Next to Augusta, Georgia’s Masters Tournament, the Kentucky Derby is perhaps the best exhibit of Southern hospitality and genteel charm in the country. The renowned twin steeples, which keep watch over the track, the mint juleps sipped by gentlemen in linen suits, and the extraordinary hats worn by Southern belles, all remind the world of the considerate contest that takes place each spring at Churchill Downs.
Yet, Kentucky’s Third District, which encompasses Louisville and the Derby, is also the site of a less reverential competition, which takes place every other fall and is certainly not respectful. The participants? Not horses, but 5 term Republican Congresswoman Anne Northup and whichever well funded Democrat attempts to topple her.
Congresswoman Anne Northup is a Republican who holds one of the most heavily Democratic seats in the country. Year in and year out, the Democrats target her district as one ripe for a takeover. Year in and year out, the Kentucky Democratic Party puts up its best candidates in the district, and year in and year out, Northup survives for another term.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by more than 2-1. And before 2004, Northup had never won more than 53% of the vote. In 2004, the Congresswoman defeated Tony Miller by than 22 percentage points.
First elected in 1996, Northup is a Republican’s dream. A teacher by trade, not only is she ladylike and articulate, but she is telegenic, a mother of six (including two adopted minority children), and able to minimize image problems that occasionally beset Republicans among minorities and single women.
Early in her Congressional career, Northup sought several leadership positions, but has since retreated from moving up in the ranks, in order to focus on winning close reelection fights. She has proven that all politics are local, as the overwhelmingly Democratic district voted 57% for John Kerry in 2004, yet continually elects Northup. Not only is she good at bringing home the bacon for local projects that stimulate the economy, she connects with voters by often beginning an argument with ‘as a mother of six…” The locals trust her, and they trust her judgment. Not only does she work hard at everything she does (and thus earn the respect of her opponents), she has raised millions for her campaigns over the years, and her campaign war chest is bursting with more than $1 million this year.