Why is the president like a pumpkin?

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

If you missed the Donald Trump Halloween joke, don’t worry. Gleeful Democrats are retelling it:

“What do Donald Trump and a pumpkin have in common?”

“They’re both orange on the outside, hollow on the inside and should be tossed out in early November.”

The country won't get a chance to dump Trump until Nov. 3, 2020. But Trumpism got trashed yesterday.

“Tonight, Democrats won HUGE elections in Virginia and New Jersey, and more votes are still being counted in states across the country,” crowed a Kentucky Democratic Party fund-raising email. 

"While Virginia may have different demographics than Kentucky, last night's election results should make every Democrat hopeful," said KDP Communications Director Brad Bowman in today's Democratic Insider email newsletter. "....By recruiting good candidates, speaking to local political issues, there's no reason we can't have similar results in Kentucky."

Bowman's not the only Kentucky Democrat suggesting that  the Virginia election bodes well for the Bluegrass State party next November when the whole state House and half the Senate have to face the voters.

The governor's race, won by Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, was the headline grabber. We won't have a governor's election until 2019.

So, here's what is making Kentucky Democrats jubilant and Republicans jumpy: the Democrats have at least pulled even with the GOP in the Virginia House of Delegates, the legislature's lower chamber. So far, the Democrats have claimed 50 seats with one race headed for a recount.  The Republicans have been enjoying a 66-34 advantage. 

Republicans outnumber Democrats by an almost identical spread in the Kentucky House: 64-36. 

Before Tuesday, even optimistic Democrats conceded that taking back the House in one election cycle was mission impossible. The ones I talked to said they'd be satisfied with a six- to nine-seat pickup.

I haven't talked to any of them since last night's Democratic blowout in Virginia.  

Anyway, polls were still open in the Old Dominion when President Bill Londrigan closed the Kentucky State AFL-CIO convention in Lexington Tuesday afternoon. Doubtless, the election news cheered the 150 or so delegates who were home or on the way home. 

Delegate Jeff Wiggins of Reidland couldn't be happier over the Virginia election. “People learned their lesson,” said Wiggins, president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and a Democrat. “They said, ‘We’ve had enough.’” 

A year ago today, the Trump tsunami sweep away the last levee against a "right to work" law in Kentucky. The House, where many a GOP Senate-passed RTW bill went to die, flipped from a narrow 53-47 Democratic edge to a deep deficit.

No sooner did the legislature meet last January than the Republican-majority Senate and House passed, rapid fire, RTW and a measure repealing the prevailing wage. Gov. Matt Bevin, a tea party Republican, lost no time in inking the bills. 

Every Democrat but one opposed the anti-labor legislation. The sole defector joined the Republicans on PW repeal.

Fewer than a half-dozen Republicans broke ranks and sided with the Democrats. Two of the them, Sen. C.B. Embry of Morgantown and Rep. Jill York of Grayson, spoke at the convention. They said they were proud to back unions. 

Democratic legislators who addressed the delegates included Sen. Reggie Thomas of Lexington, State Reps. George Brown Jr. and Susan Westrom, both of Lexington, and James Kay of Versailles. Thomas is challenging retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath of Georgetown for the Sixth Congressional District Democratic nomination next year. She also spoke. 

Brown, Embry, Kay, Thomas, Westrom and York are listed on the "Wall of Fame" side of USW District 8's "Wall of Fame" and "Wall of Shame." It's a big banner that shows how legislators voted on RTW, PW repeal and a "paycheck deception" measure that unions managed to soften.

Convention-goers learned that the USW is out with more banners, which are available for display in union halls across the state.

"Which side are you on?" is an old union song. The USW banners spell it out.