Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Is David Williams done in 2014?

A quiet election in terms of statewide notice, yesterday's 15th Senate district race could have larger implications including the ouster of Senate President David Williams not just from leadership, but from office altogether in the middle of Gov. Steve Beshear's second term.

The race featured Chris Girdler, a Hal Rogers-backed establishment candidate who spent around $200,000 to win the primary. His three tea party opponents, Mark Polston, Todd Hoskins and AC Donahue combined to spend only a small fraction of that total.

Hoskins, the only Casey Countian in the race, dropped out late and endorsed Polston. He stayed on the ballot, though, and pulled 2% of the vote though he clearly was able to transfer much of his support to Polston.

Donahue refused to fall in behind Polston and held tough to draw 7.3% of the vote. Given Polston's 9.63% loss to Girdler, it's hard not to conclude that a united insurgent effort all along may well have been successful.

Conservatives ought to resist the temptation, though, to praise Hoskins and criticize Donahue. Both were outstanding candidates and both should be encouraged to stay heavily involved. The hollowness of moral victories aside, the quality of these candidates speaks well for the movement in a more rural part of the state. It's almost all good news and portends growth in the future.

Girdler, 32, will be very interesting to watch in the Senate. Protecting his right flank will be important as tea party strength continues to grow but he also has to be wary of a challenge from the left. Senate President David Williams tried to take Pulaski and Russell counties in redistricting and started showing signs of moving to Somerset. He clearly has Girdler in his sights.

Girdler supporters executed a fairly successful whisper campaign claiming that David Williams supported Polston in this race so that he could take Pulaski and Russell in 2013 redistricting and run against Polston in 2014.

If Girdler moves to embrace and be embraced by the tea party quickly, the pieces may fall into place for squeezing Williams out of the Senate in 2014.