|Man Without Qualities|
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Republican Rep. Ernie Fletcher took the Kentucky governor's seat, after Democrats held that office for 32 years.
Republican Haley Barbour has opened a substantial lead over Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in the race for the Mississippi governorship.
UPDATE: Haley Barbour unseated Mississippi Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.
Contrary to expectations of some media observors, the Mississippi result was not close. Barbour - who is closely identified with the national Republican Party and its former Chair - took the election by a margin of 8%.
These two elections also suggest that the Democrats' recent southern "boomlet" has seriously deflated, as the AP reports:
With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Barbour got 53 percent, or 449,041 votes, to Musgrove's 45 percent, or 384,693 votes. With 100 percent of precincts reporting in Kentucky, Fletcher, a three-term congressman, defeated Chandler, polling 55 percent, or 593,489 votes, to the Democrat's 45 percent, or 484,931 votes.
Democrats saw a few bright spots. Philadelphia's Democratic Mayor John Street handily defeated Republican businessman Sam Katz, 59 percent to 41 percent. And Democrats took control of the New Jersey Legislature, breaking a 20-20 tie in the state Senate and defeating the GOP's top Senate leader.
But in the Kentucky and Mississippi races, campaigns tried out strategies that could play out in next year's presidential race. And Republicans were already crowing.
"The Democrat strategy was negative attacks and tying Ernie Fletcher to President Bush and making this race a referendum on the president's economic policies," Republican National Chairman Ed Gillespie said. "The Democrats had their referendum and got their answer."
Mississippi Democrats criticized Barbour for his connections and years spent in Washington as Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top GOP officials came to campaign for him - and as Musgrove distanced himself from national Democrats.
In Kentucky, party activists argued that a vote for Chandler would tell the White House its economic policy is a failure.
UPDATE: These elections were not so long ago considered by the New York Times to be highly significant indicators of the national trend ... but all of a sudden they became irrelevant details.
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