The front page of the Lexington Herald Leader on Saturday exclaimed in large letters that Kentucky tea partiers didn't accept blame for GOP losses this week. And we don't, but that will not deter the establishment types eager to hang K.C. Crosbie's narrow loss in the Treasurer's race around the Tea Party's neck.
The issue first came up earlier in the year when Tea Party Republican candidates Phil Moffett and John Kemper signed Libertarian candidate Ken Moellman's ballot petition. Changing Kentucky's ballot access laws to end the artificial GOP/Democrat duopoly will be a great Republican issue when the party grasps the idea that the real enemy is a system that limits voters' voices by limiting their choices. If you need a refresher on the concept, watch the movie Miracle on 34th Street.
The bottom line is 843,028 people voted in Kentucky's latest election and only 806,590 cast a ballot in the Treasurer's race. That's more than enough apathy to have made up K.C.'s 17,497 vote deficit in the race.
That's also not as far-fetched as the assumption all of Moellman's 37,261 votes would have gone to Crosbie. Moellman campaigned on shutting down the Treasurer's office, just as GOP nominee Melinda Wheeler did four years ago. Crosbie campaigned on doing more with the office.
If the Crosbie loss turns into another excuse for the GOP establishment to flog tea partiers for holding onto their principles, then nothing good will come of this. If, instead, Republicans show openness to ideas (and, more importantly, confidence in their own) by championing the repeal of bogus ballot access hurdles for people who are not Republicans or Democrats, a step toward solidifying support for the small government ideals we claim to support will have been made.
I'm not holding my breath. Are you?