Once Again, Waves of Change
Remake NKY Political Scene

Over the last several decades, Northern Kentucky has changed its political stripes.

Anyone 50 or older remembers a time when Republican primaries in the region were nearly nonexistent and, in fact, politically meaningless. Elections for local offices were essentially held in Democratic primaries. The few neighborhoods where Democrats voted Republican were lumped together to form a couple of state legislative districts and allowed a voice in the General Assembly.

On the county level, access to county office was tightly controlled by the Democratic party apparatus. It was a stair-step operation where Republicans need not apply.

Things started to change in the late ‘70s as Republicans began to pick off legislative seats here and there. Seats in county government followed and Northern Kentucky suddenly became a two-party community. And, with each successive election, the region began to lean further and further to the right.

Today, our community is the political polar opposite of what we were in the early ‘70s.

Tea for Two

Republicans control our legislative caucus and the blocs of Democrats who still vote true to their party are lumped together for seats in Frankfort. Republicans lead all three counties — Boone, Campbell and Kenton.

To quote one of my favorite song lyrics, our center is on the right.

But, the one thing that is certain about politics is change.

Republicans still seem to control the political future of Northern Kentucky. But, as the last two elections have shown, the face of the Republican Party is itself changing.

For two straight elections, Republican primary voters have cast a jaundiced eye on “establishment” candidates in favor of those espousing Tea Party principles.

On the face of it, this is not a big surprise.

Nationwide, the electorate is in a dour mood.

The results in this year’s GOP primary, in which previously-unknown Thomas Massie captured the party’s nomination for Congress, follows a national conservative/populist trend of similar results.

The Tea Party is as strong of a movement today as the Reagan Revolution was in the ‘80s.

Still, it wasn’t that long ago when Northern Kentucky was divided between two Congressional seats and we were represented in Washington by men from Louisville and Lexington. In 1987, Jim Bunning became the first member of Congress from Northern Kentucky since Brent Spence.

There is the interesting trend developing. In the last two Northern Kentucky Republican primaries, voters turned away candidates from their hometown in favor of virtual political strangers.

Regional jingoism was tossed aside.

In essence, “hope and change” prevailed in our last two Republican primaries.

But then again, I’ve heard that line before.

One final point, let’s not forget that the people turned away on election day are our neighbors — people whom you may differ with philosophically — but who yearn for a better Northern Kentucky. Politics is a blood sport and people enter it knowingly.

But, those with the guts to enter the ring should be hailed, not demonized.

In the end, should Thomas Massie and those others similarly nominated make their way to Congress, they will begin the real point of elections – governance – a task much tougher than winning a primary.