Searching for Uncommitted

Rick Robinson Author, Writ of Mandamus
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While covering Kentucky’s primary for a local media outlet last night, I was given the assignment of covering the victory party for “Uncommitted.”

Uncommitted had just won 42 percent of the Democratic presidential primary vote in Kentucky, winning more than half the Commonwealth’s 120 counties. The media outlet wanted coverage of the political gurus who had orchestrated the effort to drive nearly 87,000 Democratic voters to the polls to vote for Uncommitted.

It took a while, but I found the Uncommitted victory party at Marlo’s Country Palace in Pikeville, Kentucky. Uncommitted won 65% of the vote in Pike County, a Democratic and union stronghold located in the eastern tip of the state.

As I arrived, Paul Eeyore, the chairman of the Uncommitted in 2012 super PAC, had just taken the stage. He spoke in a low, dull monotone and was obviously tired from the whistle-stop tour of the Bluegrass State that he had just completed.

“I want to personally thank the thousands of volunteers and poll workers who helped us in this Herculean effort,” Eeyore said gloomily. “It was a great moral victory, if there are moral victories, which I doubt.”

The crowd responded with uninspired applause. “Yeah,” they replied in unison.

Eeyore’s speech was interrupted by a Skype call from Keith Judd (a.k.a. Federal Inmate No. 11593-051), who was still giddy about getting 41% of the vote in last week’s West Virginia Democratic presidential primary. “I have to speak quickly,” Judd said. “It’s ‘lights out’ in five minutes.”

Judd was thanking all the contributors who had donated millions of dollars to turn out voters for him and Uncommitted when his call was cut short by a prison guard shooting him with a Taser.

Democratic discontent

Of course, there was no coordinated effort to get Kentucky Democrats to cast their ballots for “Uncommitted” in yesterday’s primary. No 527 money was spent in the effort. No robo-calls were dialed and no shoe leather was expended walking door to door.

Kentucky allows voters to send delegates to their respective presidential nominating conventions as “uncommitted” regardless of incumbency. In recent presidential re-election primaries, no candidate has garnered 100% of his party’s vote — George H.W. Bush got 75% in 1992; Bill Clinton got 77% in 1996. George W. Bush came the closest to complete party support by garnering 92% of the Republican primary vote in 2004.

While no top-of-the-ticket candidate has gone unscathed in Kentucky’s recent primaries, President Obama getting only 58% of his party’s base vote is symbolic of the growing discontent of Democratic core voters with his administration.

Naysayers will be quick to discount the results in Kentucky (as well as the results in West Virginia and Arkansas) as the racially motivated actions of knuckle-dragging, Southern rednecks. However, peeling back the onion on Kentucky’s election results reveals that 11,000 Democrats in Louisville and Lexington — two cities represented by liberal Democrats in Congress — also repudiated President Obama in the primary.

Something much larger is afoot in Kentucky and elsewhere. You can bet that polls are being drafted to identify what is under the results and messages are being crafted to try to address the dour mood of the Democratic base.

Republicans beware

Before Republicans get all misty-eyed over yesterday’s results in Kentucky’s Democratic primary, they would do well to study the election returns on the GOP side.

In Kentucky’s open Fourth Congressional District race, Thomas Massie won the right to represent Republicans in the fall election. Before entering the race, Massie was a relatively unknown elected official from a county located a long way from the Fourth District’s population base.

With a political and personal story custom-made for tea party support, Massie ran with the backing of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and a large media buy from a Texas-based super PAC. His baggage was largely ignored.

Massie’s main opponents were two elected officials from the southern suburbs of Cincinnati, where most people in the Fourth District live. One, a female state representative and former GOP chairwoman of the district, ran with the backing of the retiring congressman, Rep. Geoff Davis. The other was the top elected official in the district’s most prosperous county.

In any other election, either might have cruised to victory and likely served in Congress for many terms to come.

Instead, Republicans voted against people they have been electing to office for years.

Maybe, like their “uncommitted” brethren casting Democratic primary votes, Republican voters are expressing their desire for hope and change. It will be interesting to see how that sentiment plays out in November.

Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny, has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.