John Yarmuth’s campaign manager Jason Burke gave me a long list of complaints about the local paper’s coverage of the election last week. I’m not sure Burke will complain about the profile in today’s C-J, but it’s an interesting piece (by Andrew Wolfson) that paints a complex picture.
On one hand, we learn of Yarmuth’s priviledged background, of his lack of ambition for power, the way he doesn’t follow through in his life’s passions — except maybe for improving his golf game. Yet we also learn that he’s smart, compassionate and adamant about his political views. I want him to win, but in truth his resume reads like someone better suited to be a political operative or, gasp, a newspaper columnist, than a Congressman.
As a campaigner, Yarmuth’s laid-back approach leaves him open to accusations that he lacks passion, but in debates Yarmuth always comes out well thanks to a quick wit and his use of humor. At the Rotary debate I attended, it seemed that John’s body language exuded a confidence that Northup lacked. She, in fact, never looked at him and seemed to lose composure making some points. Maybe the question about Yarmuth isn’t whether he’s too liberal for Louisville, but whether he’s too smart for politics. After all, intellectuals aren’t exactly running the show in American politics or in the Third District.
I’ve heard more than once this political season that a stronger Democratic candidate, given the mood of the country, would have a comfortable lead in this race. Maybe someone like Andrew Horne would be in better position, because it’s not likely anyone would have worked harder on the campaign. Or Jack Conway, lurking as the party’s great local hopeful who gave Northup her greatest scare in 2002. If you haven’t seen him on WAVE-TV debating Republican Jim Milliman, you should.
All that said, I like Yarmuth’s chances next week. But it shouldn’t be this close.