In down-ballot races as well as the high-profile ones, conservatives have reason to be happy this week. For example: In Kansas, Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been not just a state leader but a national one in the fight for voter ID and the fight against too-lenient application of laws against illegal immigrants. He won reelection.
In Arkansas, two-term U.S. representative Tim Griffin, a friend to conservatives for 20 years in various capacities, was temporarily retiring from public life in order to spend more time closer to home in Arkansas with his young family, rather than doing the D.C.–Little Rock commute. Then a ballot spot opened up for lieutenant governor, which would let him keep his political career going without the commute to D.C. Griffin ran, and he won.
In Alabama, Democratic state senator Roger Bedford has been a longtime leader of the liberal good-ol-boy network. He gave Jeff Sessions a run for his money in Sessions’s first race for the U.S. Senate in 1996 before Sessions pulled away to win by seven points. He has remained in the state senate for decades, doing everything he can first to advance liberal policies (under Democratic governor Don Siegelman) and then to frustrate conservative reforms. But on Tuesday, Bedford met his match. While the final result isn’t official, he said he has “made peace” with the likelihood that he lost his race for reelection by 60 votes to an impressive, conservative, Republican ob/gyn named Larry Stutts. Alabama conservatives are thrilled.
Also in Alabama, voters overwhelming passed (72 percent supporting) a statewide constitutional amendment protecting Alabamians from judges who would impose foreign law in contradiction of the rights of Alabama citizens.
In a race that’s not as far down-ballot, but that due to Louisiana’s unique election system hasn’t received the attention it otherwise might, several promising Bayou State Republicans were competing for the congressional seat vacated by soon-to-be U.S. senator (apparently) Bill Cassidy. But all along, the one with the longest conservative pedigree was Garret Graves, a former aide to congressman Billy Tauzin and Senator David Vitter. After his time on the Hill, he spent six years doing a great job brokering unprecedented cooperation between industry and environmental concerns while heading up the commission tasked with creating a scientifically based, politically achievable “Master Plan” for preservation and restoration of Louisiana’s dreadfully eroding coastal marshes.
Former governor and noted scoundrel Edwin Edwards, as the only main Democrat in the race, was expected to lead the balloting handily before going down hard in the December runoff. Instead, Graves finished right on Edwards’s heels, with Edwards garnering only 30 percent of the vote to Graves’s 27 percent, while other Republicans got more than 37 percent of the vote (total GOP vote: 64 percent). This strong showing by Graves in outpacing the other substantive Republicans, combined with Edwards performing probably six or seven points below expectations, should mean not just the moderately easy runoff win for Graves that any Republican would be expected to win in December, but a slam-dunk victory instead. Of course, we don’t want to count chickens early, but the signs are very good indeed. If Graves wins the runoff as expected, he almost certainly will impress people as being among the best of the “rising stars” of the freshman class, about whom I wrote earlier this week.