- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The White House and its allies say there were several bright spots for President Trump and the GOP in state elections Tuesday, despite the apparent loss in the Kentucky governor’s race and Democrats capturing both chambers of Virginia’s legislature.

White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway noted that Republicans won 13 of 14 statewide races in Kentucky, despite Republican Gov. Matt Bevin trailing Democrat Andy Beshear by about 5,000 votes out of more than 1.4 million votes cast.

“This was always going to be a tough race,” Mrs. Conway said, noting that Mr. Bevin was trailing the Democrat by nine percentage points in late August, when Mr. Trump got involved in the race. “I think the president made that governor’s race competitive.”

Republican Daniel Cameron, also supported by Mr. Trump, became the first black elected statewide in Kentucky’s history, winning the attorney general’s post.

In Mississippi, Republican Tate Reeves captured the governor’s office and Republican Lynn Fitch became the first woman elected attorney general in state history.

Kentucky and Mississippi are traditionally red states, and Mr. Trump is in no danger of losing them in 2020. But GOP insiders say some of the best news for the president on Tuesday came from places such as solidly blue New Jersey, where Republicans did better than expected in state Assembly races, picking up at least two and possibly as many as four seats on the strength of a simmering tax revolt against Democrats.

“People are rising up in some areas and saying, ‘I’ve had enough of the taxes and regulation,’” said Mrs. Conway, a native of southern New Jersey.

A Republican operative who confers with the White House said the New Jersey results were especially encouraging because Republicans in the state were heavily outspent.

“Democrats had a ton of money, yet the Republicans still did well,” he said. “We were getting hit on Trump, guns and [former Republican Gov.] Chris Christie. We went back at them on taxes. We obviously won the fight.”

The GOP strategist also said he believes the election showed that impeachment is backfiring on Democrats.

“In New Jersey, it looks like turnout was significantly higher than four years ago,” he said. “New Jersey, where all these races were fought that mattered, is one big suburb. The Republicans still did well there by running on the tax issue. Their governor [Democrat Phil Murphy] was running around raising taxes and bragging about it. A lot of the Democrats’ hits on us on Trump and guns backfired on them, in a union-friendly place like New Jersey.”

Mrs. Conway also pointed to a ballot measure in swing-state Colorado, where voters “rejected weakening the taxpayer Bill of Rights.”

The ballot measure would have allowed state government to permanently keep instead of refund excess tax revenue. The measure was sent to the ballot by the Democrat-led Legislature.

The GOP operative said both parties are claiming victory from what he called a “mixed bag” of an off-year election.

But he sees it as a positive for Mr. Trump that all three Democratic candidates for governor this year — in Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana — were running essentially as conservatives shunning impeachment.

“All three Democratic candidates for governor all were trying to distance themselves from impeachment. They were all running away from the national Democrats,” he said. “You have this Democratic Party that really doesn’t know what their identity is. All three of the Democrats running for governor were running as ‘Republican Lite.’ But in the Democratic presidential primary, they’re all running like socialists. The old-fashioned Democratic Party is almost extinct.”

The Democratic National Committee said the elections this week showed that a “revolt” is still ongoing against Mr. Trump by independent, suburban voters. Democrats pointed to examples such as Delaware County, Pennsylvania, a traditionally Republican suburb of Philadelphia, where Democrats won control of the City Council for the first time since the Civil War.

Democrats also took control of the board of commissioners in Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, and swept the Chester County Commissioner races west of the city.

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