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KY-03: Local v. National Defines Race

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Back to back press conferences here in Kentucky's 3rd district today typify the two parties' approaches in the coming midterm elections.

Ohio River Ramble

Chris Cillizza

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For Rep. Anne Northup (R) and her national party, this election will be decided on local issues. In a new television ad released today, Northup takes Democrat John Yarmuth to task for allegedly changing his mind on the construction of a bridge across the Ohio River in the city's eastern reaches.

"I'll be glad to have a referendum on whether the evidence is there that he supported the bridge for the last ten years or the last two years," Northup said at a press conference at her campaign headquarters today.

Click on the player below to watch Northup's statements over the bridge controversy.

(Video by's Chet Rhodes).

Yarmuth and national Democrats, on the other hand, argue that widespread voter discontent with President Bush and the war in Iraq ensures that national issues will trump local concerns this fall. "There aren't five percent of the people out there thinking about bridges," Yarmuth said in an interview. He said Northup is focusing on the bridge issue out of necessity because "she is part of a failed Administration and has supported failed policies."

Click on the player below to watch Yarmuth's comments tying opponent Anne Northup to the Bush Administration.

(Video by's Chet Rhodes).

The words of the two candidates in this Louisville-area district echo those of their national party leaders who have been fighting for months over what will matter more: local or national concerns? If local issues triumph, Republicans will likely be able to hold their House majority -- albeit narrowly. If, on the other hand, voters turn out to send a message to Bush on the war in Iraq, candidates like Yarmuth could well be swept into Congress.

While Democrats carry a two-to-one registration edge in the 3rd district, Northup has used a combination of herculean fundraising and savvy campaign skills to beat back highly-touted Democratic challengers since winning the seat in 1996. Republicans see no reason why 2006 will be any different. Democrats say that the dismal national environment changes the ground on which the election is being fought.

Who's right? We won't know the answer to that until election day. But what's clear is that both sides are locked into their strategies and have no intention of giving ground.

-- Chris Cillizza

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 22, 2006; 2:56 PM ET
Categories:  Ohio River Ramble  
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So long as 80% of the votes are counted by Diebold, the Democrats haven't a prayer of winning either house.

Posted by: It doesn't matter | October 14, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I see yet again why Northup is going to win this race, and why Chuck Todd has it ranked only #34 among House races.

If Yarmuth thinks no one in his district cares about bridges, he's really naive. (Calling Tip O'Neill??)

If he thinks denying his past columns is a remotely smart way to handle the issue, he's a horrible student of politics. I support the legalization of marijuana (not just decriminalization as he advocated) and the total abolition of the drinking age. But you only give credence to your opponent's premises when you run from your positions rather than come out charging defending them. Does this guy have no memory of Michael Dukakis??

I'd put my money on Ken Lucas before Yarmuth.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | September 24, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

anon, I wonder if Yarmuth's campaign is aware of the specifics of this:

' Bill Allison of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based watchdog group, said the matter represents a clear conflict of interest.

"I don't know how you could get any more of a clear-cut breach of ethics than this one," Mr. Allison said. "... She should not be in a position of helping out her husband's business interests."

"The fact that she hid her ties with her husband shows that she herself thought that this was not an above-board thing to do," said director Gary Ruskin of the Congressional Accountability Project.'

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:54 PM | Report abuse

No questioning about Anne Northup's ties to Tom DeLay and the investigations on her impropriety in asking the FCC to give favors to her husband's company Radio Sound:

Posted by: anon | September 22, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

The Dems need to pay attention to local issues that matter. If they are as tuned into the Ky constituency as they say they are, ....they should know which local issues matter, and which don't. Otherwise, continue with the very real fear that the neo-cons will take solace in the retention of both House and Senate majorities. Then we truly will have the grounds for an unfettered attack on Iran, and anywhere else that doesn't please the "cowpoke".

By the way, ...where are the internationalists that will speak up for nations like Iran developing nuclear energy and against the rabid, scaremongering neo-cons that use "Israel" and "stability" to sell the most outrageous pretexts??

Posted by: L.Sterling | September 22, 2006 3:42 PM | Report abuse

President Bush portrays Musharraf as an ally in the war on terror and he recently praised Pakistan's cooperation with the U.S.

"They know the stakes about dealing with a violent form of ideological extremists," Mr. Bush said. "I view President Musharraf as somebody who would like to bring al Qaeda to justice."

But a veteran U.S. diplomat says "a more realistic position" is needed.

Former Ambassador Peter Thomsen, Special Envoy to Afghanistan during the first Bush administration, told CBS News the U.S. should put more pressure on Musharraf. He says Pakistan is "playing fireman and arsonist as it tries to have it both ways in Afghanistan and in the war on terror."

Another veteran U.S. diplomat, Teresita C. Schaffer, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, says the meetings could send a firm message to Pakistan.

Musharraf must "make clear within his own system that it is not acceptable for the intelligence services to continue in close relations with their old friends in the Taliban," Schaffer, Director of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CBS News.

Musharraf has disputed U.S. and Afghan government complaints that he is not doing enough to crack down on militants operating in the rugged border area.

The search for Osama bin Laden is also expected to be a prime topic for the meetings. Former Ambassador Thomsen is convinced Musharraf and his intelligence and military commanders know where bin Laden is hiding.

"The Pakistani military intelligence and the generals know exactly where he (bin Laden) is and they could inform us and we could do the job," Thomsen said. Yet Musharraf is very sensitive about any foreign military activity in his country.

Thomsen also blames elements in Pakistan for the resurgence in Taliban-inspired violence in Afghanistan. He says Pakistani intelligence "fosters the Islamist jihadist infrastructure" along the Afghan-Pakistan border."

As NATO dispatches more troops to Afghanistan, Thomsen warns, "war is going to continue to tear Afghanistan" as long as jihadists "spew out unlimited manpower" from Pakistan.

Thomsen suggests the U.S. put pressure on Pakistan. He says the administration should "be less complimentary of Pakistan" and by threatening to put Pakistan on the State Department's list of terror-sponsoring nations, we would get the attention of Musharraf and his commanders.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

It's nonsense to say that Republicans are only concentrating on local issues, when Rove and the media are drumming up another war and trying to convince people how dangerous Iran is and how we 'must' bomb them -- and terrifying people with the 'we can't trust THEM with national security' crap. That's a very major national campaign, it doesn't get much bigger.

But local Dems should be running on local issues, too--as a double-pronged strategy. The ones who aren't are foolish.

Posted by: drindl | September 22, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

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