democrats state level comeback hits its limits

MILWAUKEE ― A few weeks before her victory, Janet Protasiewicz, the liberal ― and de facto Democratic ― nominee for Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, issued a warning about what could happen if her conservative opponent, Dan Kelly, managed to pull off a victory: It could flip the 2024 presidential election.

“Don’t you think our elections should be fair and free?” Protasiewicz asked HuffPost. “Don’t you think there should be a Supreme Court justice who wasn’t going to vote to overturn the 2024 election results? If they don’t come out the way that he wants, that’s what I think will happen.”

The idea that an off-year April election could swing control of the presidency would’ve seemed ludicrous not long ago, before the GOP’s lurch toward authoritarianism and whole-hearted embrace of former President Donald Trump’s lies about the election. But for thousands of liberals and Democrats across the country who poured cash into Protasiewicz’s campaign, the threat was a central motivator.

Protasiewicz’s eventual 11-point victory was the latest example of how Democrats have made major progress in clawing back power at the state level, with party leaders in key states effectively turning state-level elections into extensions of national political causes, tying them to the outcome of the next presidential election and hyping up the importance of state-by-state battles over abortion rights.

The strategy has fired up college-educated voters, who are more likely to vote in off-year elections, and convinced liberals around the country to pour small-dollar donations into electoral contests once considered far too obscure to merit outside investment.

The results of these tactics speak for themselves: 57% of Americans live in a state with a Democratic governor. The 17 states where Democrats have a trifecta ― meaning they control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature ― equal 41.6% of the country’s population. The 22 Republican trifectas, mostly built in smaller states, amount to just 39.6% of the country.

But as the party continues a long slog back from its 2010 wipeout ― when Republicans jumped from 9 trifectas to 22 in a single night and gained control of a redistricting process enabling them to lock Democrats out of power in states across the country ― the chances for further progress are shrinking.

“We have to be realistic,” said Mallory McMorrow, the Michigan state senator whose viral speech defending gay and transgender rights helped raise millions to power Democrats’ eventual victory in the state’s legislative elections last fall. “People asked me how it feels for everything to change overnight. But it wasn’t overnight. There has been a persistence and a dedication to down-ballot races from Republicans that Democrats simply haven’t had.”

Recent weeks have shown the promise and peril of the comeback so far. Victories in Wisconsin, and Michigan’s moves to repeal an abortion ban and right-to-work legislation, have been offset by the Wisconsin GOP’s pick up of a state Senate supermajority and the defection by a Democratic state legislator in North Carolina, both of which illustrated how stop-start the party’s progress is, and how fragile its gains can be. And the expulsion of two Democrats from the Tennessee House of Representatives shows how helpless the party remains in some states more than a decade after the 2010 wipeout.

Republicans now have supermajorities in 20 states, having picked up veto-proof majorities in three states with Democratic governors since the 2022 midterms: Wisconsin, where the GOP won a special election the same day as Protasiewicz’s victory, and in North Carolina and Louisiana, where Democratic legislators switched parties.

Many states where the party is at its weakest are in the South, with some of the largest Black populations in the country, giving the party little power to defend its most loyal voting bloc. Of the 10 states with the largest Black population share, seven have GOP governors, seven have GOP legislative supermajorities and six have both.

“We have to admit that we have a problem before we work to address a problem,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist in South Carolina and political adviser to House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). National Democratic groups should “continue to prioritize the South, the rural South and the constituencies that primarily make up the South and that’s Black folks.

A Badger State Revival

Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler brought techniques and strategies he learned running the national progressive group MoveOn to his home state, helping revitalize the state party.
Daniel Boczarski via Getty Images

Wisconsin is both a case study for Democrats’ new appreciation of the stakes of state-level fights and a reminder of how the gerrymandering that emerged from the 2010 election continues to stand in the party’s way.

When Republican Scott Walker became Wisconsin’s governor in 2010, he set out to shift state politics rightward through gerrymandering and the evisceration of the state’s once-powerful labor unions. Trump’s victory in the Badger State in 2016, just eight years after Barack Obama carried it by 14 percentage points, spoke to Walker’s success in that endeavor.

Amid public outrage over Trump that helped Democrats make inroads in the suburbs, the party ousted Walker in 2018. But in April 2019, conservatives narrowly triumphed in a statewide supreme court race that liberals had hoped to win.

Witnessing that defeat was one of the reasons that Ben Wikler, a Madison native then serving as Washington director of, decided to jump back into politics in his home state. He was elected chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in June 2019.

Leveraging skills and contacts, he had acquired in the world of national grassroots organizing, Wikler turned the state party into a fighting force. Among other techniques, he used his growing social media following to raise funds for the party, which he plowed into a hiring spree, prioritizing field organizing as well as communications. The latter ignited a virtuous cycle in which the party got more press coverage and thus generated more fundraising that enabled it to continue hiring.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin now boasts 118 paid staffers, including some interns and part-time workers ― up from 24 employees when Wikler took over.

“The Republican infrastructure in the state of Wisconsin used to be far superior to the Democratic infrastructure,” said a Milwaukee-area Republican strategist who requested anonymity to speak freely. “[Wikler] has built a finely tuned, fast-moving, well-oiled machine. And so they are playing better on the field than they used to.”

The party’s advances under Wikler, and a concurrent shift toward Democrats among highly educated voters who are more likely to show up in off-season elections, helped a liberal justice win a state supreme court race in April 2020 and subsequently flip the state for Biden that November.

This year, presented with the chance to shift control of the state supreme court from conservatives to liberals, Wikler didn’t hesitate to mobilize the party’s resources to their fullest. Ironically, thanks to a set of campaign-finance reforms that Walker oversaw in 2015, there were no restrictions on how much the Democratic Party of Wisconsin was able to transfer to liberal Justice-elect Janet Protasiewicz. The party ended up giving Protasiewicz more than $9 million in her bid for the officially nonpartisan office.

Democrats’ involvement in Protasiewicz’s bid sparked allegations from conservatives that she would serve as a partisan activist rather than an impartial judge ― a charge she sought to defuse by promising to recuse herself from cases involving the state party.

For Wikler, though, the net benefits of electing Protasiewicz, including the possibility of obtaining less Republican-leaning congressional and state legislative maps, made campaigning for Protasiewicz an easy decision.

“Republicans are not shy about doing everything in their power to elect far-right judges,” he told HuffPost in late March. “And Democrats have a choice: Either they can roll over and let the extreme right dominate the courts, or they can fight back with everything they’ve got.”

That bet paid off. But Protasiewicz’s coattails were not quite enough to carry Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin, an attorney, across the finish line in a special state Senate election in the same Milwaukee suburbs that have been trending more Democratic in recent years. Habush Sinykin’s narrow defeat gave Republicans a two-thirds majority in the state Senate, enabling them to impeach and expel Democratic elected officials on a party-line vote. That could theoretically endanger everyone from liberal judges and prosecutors to Protasiewicz and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D).

Wikler isn’t too worried, though. If Republicans target Protasiewicz or other liberal judges, Evers would have the power to name those officials’ replacements. Wikler also called Habush Sinykin, the unsuccessful Democratic contender for state Senate, a “dynamite candidate” who had suffered from the gerrymandered nature of her district.

“What’s happened in Wisconsin can be a playbook for Democrats across the country,” Wikler said.

Officials in other state parties are already trying to learn from the strides made in Wisconsin. Following the dramatic expulsion of two Black Democratic lawmakers in Tennessee, Wikler spoke to the Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Hendrell Remus about “what the channels are to fight back.” The Democratic Party of Wisconsin also sent out an email fundraiser for its Tennessee counterpart and matched the first $25,000 of the $38,000 the email raised.

“Republicans are abusing supermajority powers that they haven’t earned,” Wikler said. “Tennessee Democrats have a chance to make that backfire.”

Money And Media In Michigan

Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow’s speech defending herself against GOP attacks went viral a year ago this week, enabling her to tap into a national donor base that has become invested in previously obscure state legislative contests.

Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow’s speech defending herself against GOP attacks went viral a year ago this week, enabling her to tap into a national donor base that has become invested in previously obscure state legislative contests.
via Associated Press

McMorrow’s speech, delivered a year ago on Wednesday, came after a GOP colleague implied she was a “groomer” for supporting transgender rights and opposing Republican-led efforts to block discussion of gay rights and racism in public schools.

The speech went viral, attracting millions of views and helping McMorrow soon raise $1.2 million, 85% of it from outside the state. Much of that money was sent to help state legislative candidates. She said the key was airing television ads turning those candidates into actual people rather than just ballot lines with a D or R next to their names, noting that surveys have shown that 80% of Americans can’t identify their state legislator.

“We connect to stories of people,” McMorrow said. “Trying to sell the story that we’re just trying to flip a state legislature is not relatable.”

McMorrow said that keeping the money coming in relied on repeatedly connecting to national audiences by emphasizing national battles happening on the ground in Michigan.

“Something that we really tried to do intentionally was to continue to seek out national media opportunities, to tell the story of what’s happening in Michigan, but making that connection to national politics because that’s the only way to break through to people,” McMorrow said.

Helping McMorrow and others out was a liberal media ecosystem fully ready to talk about state-level contests. After her speech, McMorrow was twice a guest on “Pod Save America,” the liberal podcast founded by former staffers for President Barack Obama. The podcast also held a special episode in Madison to draw attention to Protasiewicz’s campaign.

The way Democrats have been able to tap into national small-dollar donors to fund state races was visible in Wisconsin. In providing Protasiewicz with $8 million of the $14 million she raised, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin counted on a surge in grassroots donations that complemented the big checks that came in. In the nearly four years since Wikler took over as chair, the state party took in more than 777,000 donations, compared with just under 65,000 over the same period preceding Wikler’s arrival.

“It takes resources to run your own operation, but when you do, it means that every individual candidate will have a political network and a volunteer network that takes years to build,” Wikler said.

Protasiewicz also outperformed her conservative opponent, Dan Kelly, in direct fundraising from small-dollar donors, raising nearly 25,000 donations of $50 or less, compared with Kelly’s 3,800.

The big picture gap is most evident from how the Democratic Governors’ Association (DGA) has been able to develop a small-dollar fundraising program the Republican Governors’ Association (RGA) has so not been able to match, enabling the former group to come close to matching the GOP dollar-for-dollar in key races for the first time in decades. (Both the DGA and RGA take extensive sums directly from corporations and wealthy donors, but the RGA has long had more success in that area.)

Laura Clawson, the DGA’s digital director, said the committee was able to build its online donor base by drawing people in with e-mails touching on national issues and figures, then explaining how giving to governors can matter, even if it increased the digital difference between opening an initial email and making a donation.

“A lot of people’s goal is to just get someone onto that contribution page with as little friction as possible,” Clawson said. “Implementing that flow allowed us to do donor education about why this matters. And we’ve seen a huge, huge increase in our donations.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, the chair of the DGA in the 2022 cycle, said the committee was able to spend three times the amount it did in 2018. The party picked up governorships in Maryland and Massachusetts while losing Nevada, marking only the second time since 1934 the president’s party has increased its governorships during a midterm.

“Who your governor is matters more than ever,” Cooper said, citing pandemic response and fights over abortion rights. “Democratic governors demonstrated we will protect your pocketbook, your freedoms and the foundations of our democracy.”

Problems Money Can’t Solve

Tennessee State Rep. Justin Pearson, expelled from the state legislature and then reinstated, has shown Democrats do not always need electoral power to push for change.

Tennessee State Rep. Justin Pearson, expelled from the state legislature and then reinstated, has shown Democrats do not always need electoral power to push for change.
via Associated Press

The expulsion ― and lighting-fast reappointment ― of Tennessee Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones was, like McMorrow’s speech, a singular moment for Tennessee Democrats to seize the advantage. Pearson and Jones became instant superstars, with national leaders like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) raising money for them online.

In a different state, the momentum could carry Democrats to a modicum of power. But after losing control of both legislative chambers in 2010, the party has only spiraled downward in the Volunteer States. Heavily gerrymandered maps mean Democrats only have one congressman left in the state, and Republicans hold more than three-quarters of the seats in the state House and the state Senate.

And most of those seats are deep red: Only four of the 75 Republicans in the state House received less than 60% of the vote in their most recent election. While strategists in the state hope the party can use gun violence as an issue to potentially flip a handful of seats in the growing suburbs of Nashville, it shows how if the Democratic comeback is built on maps, money and media, the latter two can’t matter much without the first.

“Republican extreme gerrymandering really locked Democrats out of power artificially for the last decade and created artificial barriers that you can’t overcome with a standard campaign,” said Kelly Burton, the former president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

The NDRC, chaired by former Attorney General Eric Holder, was founded in 2016 as a counterpoint to longstanding GOP efforts to shape legislative and congressional maps. It spent millions pushing for referenda to block partisan gerrymanders, challenging GOP-drawn maps and backing candidates in judicial, legislative and governor’s races.

But gerrymandering does not explain away all of the Democrats’ struggles in Tennessee. Trump’s margin of victory in 2020 was 23 percentage points, and the state is heavy on white working-class voters and evangelical Christians.

While Democrats have progressed in many states, most deep red states remain firmly in control of the GOP. In places like the Dakotas and the deep South, Republicans don’t need to gerrymander to maintain a firm grip on power.

When Pearson talked to HuffPost’s Phil Lewis earlier this month, he encouraged Tennesseans to do more than just vote to make a change in the state: “We need people who are actively, consistently, consistently engaged in democracy. [People] who protest, who make phone calls, who show up to hearings, who stay engaged, all the time, all year round.”

Of course, Pearson and Jones have shown you do not necessarily need electoral power to create change. Their protest, and the subsequent GOP overreaction, shined a brighter light on a legislature riven with problems but largely ignored by the public. It also created momentum for Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, to push for a red flag law.

Tennessee’s legislative session ended on Friday without any actions on guns and with many Republican legislators still deeply opposed. But Lee said he would soon call for a special session on gun reform, citing the “broad agreement that dangerous, unstable individuals who intend to harm themselves or others should not have access to weapons.”

It’s a reflection of the public pressure Pearson and Jones brought.

“Throughout history ― Southern history and Black history ― it has always taken some sort of shockwave event for folks to tune into our issues and our communities in a very intentional way,” Seawright said. “What happened in Tennessee was another of those shockwave events in history.”

<div class="js-react-hydrator" data-component-name="RelatedArticles" data-component-id="730" data-component-props="{"index":73,"contentListType":"relatedArticles","blockTitle":"Related…","articlesList":[{"id":"6435818ae4b0a9d64e7a64d4","editionId":"us","headline":"Expelled Tennessee House Democrat Justin Pearson Reinstated","url":"","dek":"Two Democrats were expelled by the Republican-led state House for protesting with gun control advocates. They've both been reinstated.","defaultImage":{"type":"hector","url":"","queryParams":{},"width":4000,"height":2667,"credit":"George Walker IV/Associated Press"},"section":{"Id":"5576fe88e4b00a64381c1325","title":"Politics","url":"politics"},"lastPublished":"2023-04-12T19:02:38Z"},{"id":"64388d69e4b066950599a3e4","editionId":"us","headline":"Reinstated Tennessee Lawmaker Goes Viral For Smacking Down Colleague's 'Bigotry'","url":"","dek":"\"Stop using God to justify your bigotry. Stop using God to justify hatred and racism,\" state Rep. Justin Jones told his Republican colleague.","defaultImage":{"type":"hector","url":"","queryParams":{"cache":"8B4WNpdDov"},"width":2242,"height":3363,"credit":"via Associated Press"},"section":{"Id":"5576fe88e4b00a64381c1325","title":"Politics","url":"politics"},"lastPublished":"2023-04-14T02:10:02Z"},{"id":"64424f48e4b011a819c0b530","editionId":"us","headline":"Michigan Republicans Vote To Keep Law Barring Unwed Couples From Living Together","url":"","dek":"“What year are they living in?” asked Michigan Democratic state Sen. Mallory McMorrow in response to Republicans voting against repeal, which passed 29-9.","defaultImage":{"type":"hector","url":"","queryParams":{"cache":"DXEm4hMgDX"},"width":7223,"height":4816,"credit":"Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images"},"section":{"Id":"5576fe88e4b00a64381c1325","title":"Politics","url":"politics"},"lastPublished":"2023-04-21T19:00:43Z"},{"id":"642daef2e4b0c2da15047a40","editionId":"us","headline":"Wisconsin Republicans Gain Impeachment Power In State Senate","url":"","dek":"Republican Dan Knodle’s victory over Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin ensure the GOP a two-thirds majority in the upper legislative chamber.","defaultImage":{"type":"hector","url":"","queryParams":{},"width":3751,"height":2801,"credit":"Andy Manis/Associated Press"},"section":{"Id":"5576fe88e4b00a64381c1325","title":"Politics","url":"politics"},"lastPublished":"2023-04-05T18:29:07Z"}],"showArticlesPics":true,"specialLayout":"","flags":[],"fullBleed":false,"options":{"theme":"featured","device":"desktop","editionInfo":{"id":"us","name":"U.S.","link":"","locale":"en_US"},"slideshowAd":{"scriptTags":[],"otherHtml":""},"slideshowEndCard":{"scriptTags":[],"otherHtml":""},"isMapi":false,"isAmp":false,"isVideoEntry":false,"isMt":false,"entryId":"6444373fe4b03c1b88c76342","entryPermalink":"","entryTagsList":"democratic-party,michigan,wisconsin,tennessee","sectionSlug":"politics","deptSlug":"politics-news","sectionRedirectUrl":null,"subcategories":"","isWide":true,"headerOverride":null,"noVideoAds":false,"disableFloat":false,"isNative":false,"commercialVideo":{"provider":"custom","site_and_category":"us.politics","package":null},"isHighline":false,"vidibleConfigValues":{"cid":"60afc111dcf87c2cd2f5d8bf","overrides":{"front_page_top_videos":{"desktop":"60b64354b171b7444beaff4d","mobileweb":"60b64354b171b7444beaff4d"},"top_media":{"desktop":"60b8e6bdc5449357a7ada147","mobile":"60b8e701c5449357a7ada2ee","iphone":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","ipad":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","androidphone":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c","androidtablet":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c"},"anthology":{"desktop":"60b8e616cdd90620331bb0ba","mobile":"60b8e671c5449357a7ad9f66","iphone":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","ipad":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","androidphone":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c","androidtablet":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c"},"content":{"desktop":"60b8e616cdd90620331bb0ba","mobile":"60b8e671c5449357a7ad9f66","iphone":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","ipad":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","androidphone":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c","androidtablet":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c"}},"playerUpdates":{"5668ae6ee4b0b5e26955d6a6":"60d2472d9340d7032ad7e443","56aa41bae4b091744c0440d8":"60e869dc7c5f3b17b6741b81","5841b2b5cc52c716ec6e5a7f":"60b8e355cdd90620331ba185","58b5e2b8d85a10302feee895":"60b64316b171b7444beafdb2","58b74698f78ced31417819ae":"60b8e5bec5449357a7ad9b52","58b74ccecebcea57e2c3a3d1":"60b8e5eac5449357a7ad9ca5","58cff690d85a100b9992bc39":"60b8e616cdd90620331bb0ba","58cffb3fb6d9b972a49a3c9d":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","58cffdd74d96935d7d6ec180":"60b8e671c5449357a7ad9f66","58d03a84f78ced6518eb2fa7":"60b643c82e76be41f112735c","592edf20e0fa177b0c26f7fd":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c","5b35266b158f855373e28256":"60b64354b171b7444beaff4d","5c116f29f79c4171d82b7c2a":"60b64440b171b7444beb040b","5c1170fc600c9a697bf0c6b9":"60b646102e76be41f1127ffc","5c47791afa1b317df8ae0c4f":"60b8e6bdc5449357a7ada147","5c477987a6b48b35f164773d":"60b8e701c5449357a7ada2ee","5c4779ee943c3c2a64f28371":"60b8e747cdd90620331bb861","5c477a26fcd67b26879bc7c2":"60b8e788c5449357a7ada67b","5d8921a78c3ae845f366c9b6":"60ae7be5f3a7c13a30417ff9","58b98b00ba82aa39a6534321":"60d0de7c9340d7032ad1146c","58b9d14cb6d9b96c9ec32af3":"60d0dec19340d7032ad115a0","58cff8eccebcea42931e0436":"60d0e005b627221e9d819d44","592edf5de0fa177b0c26f95b":"60d0e38fb627221e9d81adcf","58cff72fd85a100b9992c112":"60d0e447b627221e9d81b0da","56b4d34fe4b022697697c400":"60d2472d9340d7032ad7e443","60b8e4c0c5449357a7ad957d":"60e869dc7c5f3b17b6741b81"}},"connatixConfigValues":{"defaultPlayer":"ff7fdddc-5441-4253-abc4-f12a33fad58b","clickToPlayPlayer":"d014396e-b366-4c17-aeac-3ce906fa3fd0","videoPagePlayer":"f010447b-d244-4111-a314-7b4542ae4145","verticalPlayer":"e58cb05a-0bc8-4210-9108-fea82726c065"},"customAmpComponents":[],"ampAssetsUrl":"","videoTraits":null,"positionInUnitCounts":{"buzz_head":{"count":0},"buzz_body":{"count":0},"buzz_bottom":{"count":0}},"positionInSubUnitCounts":{"article_body":{"count":7},"blog_summary":{"count":0},"before_you_go_slideshow":{"count":0}},"connatixCountsHelper":{"count":0},"buzzfeedTracking":{"context_page_id":"6444373fe4b03c1b88c76342","context_page_type":"buzz","destination":"huffpost","mode":"desktop","page_edition":"en-us"},"tags":[{"name":"Democratic Party","slug":"democratic-party","links":{"relativeLink":"topic/democratic-party","permalink":"","mobileWebLink":""},"department":{"name":"Latest News","slug":"politics-news"},"section":{"title":"Politics","slug":"politics"},"topic":{"title":"Democratic Party","slug":"democratic-party","overridesSectionLabel":false},"url":""},{"name":"Michigan","slug":"michigan","links":{"relativeLink":"topic/michigan","permalink":"","mobileWebLink":""},"department":{"name":"Latest News","slug":"politics-news"},"section":{"title":"U.S. News","slug":"us-news"},"topic":{"title":"Michigan","slug":"michigan","overridesSectionLabel":false},"url":""},{"name":"Wisconsin","slug":"wisconsin","links":{"relativeLink":"topic/wisconsin","permalink":"","mobileWebLink":""},"department":{"name":"Latest News","slug":"politics-news"},"section":{"title":"U.S. News","slug":"us-news"},"topic":{"title":"Wisconsin","slug":"wisconsin","overridesSectionLabel":false},"url":""},{"name":"Tennessee","slug":"tennessee","links":{"relativeLink":"topic/tennessee","permalink":"","mobileWebLink":""},"department":{"name":"Latest News","slug":"politics-news"},"section":{"title":"U.S. News","slug":"us-news"},"topic":{"title":"Tennessee","slug":"tennessee","overridesSectionLabel":false},"url":""}],"isLiveblogLive":null,"cetUnit":"buzz_body","bodyAds":["

\r\n\r\n HPGam.cmd.push(function(){\r\n\t\treturn HPGam.render(\"inline-1\", \"entry_paragraph_1\", false);\r\n });\r\n\r\n","

\r\n\r\n HPGam.cmd.push(function(){\r\n\t\treturn HPGam.render(\"inline-2\", \"entry_paragraph_3\", false);\r\n });\r\n\r\n","

\r\n\r\n HPGam.cmd.push(function(){\r\n\t\treturn HPGam.render(\"inline-infinite\", \"repeating_dynamic_display\", false);\r\n });\r\n\r\n"],"adCount":0}}”>

Go To Homepage

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *