The retirement announcement of four-term Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) two weeks ago caught many in Washington and Kentucky by surprise. West Point graduate and solid conservative Davis had not had a difficult race since ’06 (when he defeated former TV anchorman Nick Clooney, father of George) and his re-elections since were taken for granted.
In becoming the 8th Republican in the House to either step down for retirement or pursuit of another office in 2012, Davis serves as yet another case-in-point for Republicans being more than likely to retain their majority in the House next year.
Of the seventeen Democratic House Members who are calling it quits, nearly half come from districts which are marginal or are at least better-than-even money to flip to the Republicans. Some good examples are the seats of retiring Democratic Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.). In both of their districts, Republicans are the favorites to win the open House seats come November.
In striking contrast, the districts of all eight House Republicans who are headed for the exit sign from Congress are solidly Republican turf. Davis’ 4th District in the Bluegrass State is no exception. From 1962-64, and then from 1966-86, it was held by conservative GOPer Gene Snyder, one of ten Republican House Members to back Ronald Reagan over Gerald Ford for President in 1976. For the next ten years, the seat was held by fellow Republican (and onetime Major League baseball great) Jim Bunning. When Bunning went to the Senate in 1996, “Blue Dog” Democrat Ken Lucas won the 4th and clung to it for eight years.
But Ken Lucas was a conservative Democrat who fiercely supported tobacco farmers and was pro-life. Even that was not enough to save him from Davis, who put the seat in the GOP column in ’04.
State Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington is so far the most-talked-of candidate for the GOP nod, but there is also talk of State Sen. Damon Thayer and State Senate President Katie Kratz Stine—all considered conservatives in varying degrees.
“It’s a good, solid Republican district and Republicans should hold it,” Daniel Groves, onetime top aide to former Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher, told HUMAN EVENTS, “The only cautionary note I would make is that in a year when folks are very distrustful of Congress in general, one can’t take anything for granted.”
True, but one can come pretty close to taking for granted a district in which Davis won re-election with 69% of the vote in 2010 and which John McCain carried with 60% of the vote in 2008.