This was not a good week for Democrats.

The last time Kentucky had a Republican governor, Richard Nixon (search) was president. They have a new one. He is Ernie Fletcher (search), a former fighter pilot who wanted to be an astronaut. In addition to intercepting Soviet jets attempting to test U.S. air defenses during the Cold War, Fletcher became an ordained minister and a family physician. Polls said voters found him believable and likeable.

Imagine, a political leader who is believable!

In Mississippi, Haley Barbour (search) beat incumbent Democrat Ronnie Musgrove by 8 percentage points. President Bush campaigned in Kentucky and Mississippi and can claim some credit for these wins.

Sen. Bob Graham of Florida announced he would not seek re-election. Other Senate Democrats not running include North Carolina's John Edwards, Georgia's Zell Miller. That means Republicans could expand their Senate majority, making Democrat filibusters more difficult.

Miller says he's voting for President Bush next year, though he says he's never voted for a Republican for president before. In an interview with Brit Hume on "Special Report" last Tuesday, Miller criticized his fellow Democrats for their positions on economic and foreign policy issues.

If you watched the "Rock the Vote" debate Tuesday, you saw how thin and petty the eight Democratic presidential candidates are. There isn't a leader among them who can inspire. All they do is try to appeal to their shrinking liberal base. Zell Miller virtually accused his party of abandoning its traditional principles and that's why he is ready to abandon his party, at least in the next presidential race.

If Democrats don't free themselves from narrow special interest groups, Zell Miller won't be the only Democrat voting Republican a year from now.

And that's Column One for this week.

What do you think? Send your responses to: afterhours@foxnews.com.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.