Lessons From Kentucky

Updated: Jan 6

As most of you know, Democrat, Andy Beshear, won election this week to the governorship of Kentucky. What you might not know is that President Trump won Kentucky in 2016 by an even greater majority than he did in Nebraska, and both he and Vice President Pence pulled out all the stops in campaigning for Beshear’s opponent. What do you know? Democrats can win in dark Red States.


The hugely important thing to take away from this race is how Governor-elect Beshear won. His three-pronged strategy was simple, timeless and terribly effective – keep the message positive; keep the message local; and keep the message reasonable.


Beshear started with a foundation of what was once a standard rule for campaigns – Run Your Own Race. It is common sense for candidates to focus on their own campaign and not tie themselves too their Party’s choices up or down the ticket. The reasoning is simple – Why take on the baggage of race in which you have absolutely no control? Succeed on your own accomplishment. Coattails can be helpful, but they’ll be there whether you connect yourself to another campaign or not.


Andy Beshear went out of his way not to attack President Trump, or more importantly, belittle his supporters. Instead he focused on his personal and family faith. He talked about the “lost, lonely and left behind.” In other words, the little guy that I like to talk about. He championed the unions. He talked about working across the aisle to provide health care to those in need, and he talked about treating everyone with “dignity and respect.” He did not live-down to our current Democratic Party narrative. He lived-up to the traditional standards of mainstream America.


He made a conscious choice not to get dragged down into Establishment interest group fights. Instead, he talked about people in his state and his community. He talked about a common history and a shared heritage. He connected with his voters and ran as far away as he could get from AOC, the Squad and the absurdities of presidential politics. He focused purely on what his voters believed was reasonable, and left hate and dreamy utopias to those back in the Cloud City of Washington.


Just for fun, let’s compare the Beshear Model with the strategies suggested in the IBEW Media Handbook. Our Union brothers and sisters have learned a few things in the last 100 years, and what-da-ya-know, the two strategies are in perfect harmony. “Do stay positive and uplifting; Do use stories to illustrate your message; Do Not use an angry or confrontational tone; Do Not get defensive; Do Not focus on just people with whom you agree; and Do Not go tit-for-tat with your opponents.”


So now, let’s look at how the Beshear/IBEW strategy compares with the approach currently being used by almost every Democratic campaign for national office in Nebraska. Take a good look at how they use their social and earned media, and how they routinely violate almost every rule along the way. What do they know that Andy Beshear and the IBEW don’t? In my estimation, they know a lot less.


I'm not a school girl. Campaigns can be tough and sometimes have to hit hard, but campaigns that begin and perpetuate a constant negative drone are almost never successful. People quit listening. Throw in a dishonest argument or two and all credibility is lost. If we want to win again in Nebraska, we need to learn from people who know how to win – stay honest, stay positive, stay local and stay reasonable.


CMB

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