If, in the future, Kentucky Democrats are looking for the date and time that their party averted probable death, they can look to this past Monday around 1 p.m.
It was then that Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who was crushed by the party's arch-villain Mitch McConnell in November, announced that she was going to run for re-election as secretary of state and not for governor.
With the Democratic Party at a fragile juncture, Grimes' decision made possible a unified, largely unopposed Democratic primary election instead of a bloody civil war that might have finished off a party that at times in recent years has seemed to be on the brink of extinction in the state.
Now, with the filing deadline passed, Democrats are buzzing with optimism about the possibility that they can not only stunt the state's rightward lurch, but maybe even reverse it.
"We have seen a shift, but that doesn't mean that won't shift back," said state Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington.
The state party was spared its nightmare scenario last year when it managed to hold on to the state House even as Grimes lost to McConnell, now the U.S. Senate majority leader, by more than 15 points.
Still, a number of indicators resulting from that loss and previous elections suggested a bleak future for Democrats in Kentucky as Republicans made gains in the state Senate, appeared to have a lock on federal races and were excited about the prospect of winning back the governor's mansion.
But with Grimes deciding to run for the lower-profile office and not challenging Attorney General Jack Conway in the Democratic primary for governor, a possible fatal split has been avoided. That leaves Conway as the presumed front-runner in the governor's race given that the four Republican candidates face a ruthless battle for the GOP nomination.
"I think Jack is definitely the front-runner, and it's all setting up well for him," said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville.
Shortly after the deadline for candidates to enter the race passed Tuesday afternoon, Conway's running mate, state Rep. Sannie Overly of Paris, emailed their supporters a fundraising plea with "the big news."
"The deadline for candidates to file to be on the ballot has passed and no major Democratic candidate has filed to challenge Jack and me in the primary election," Overly wrote. "That means that we can focus on getting ready to defeat whomever comes out of the Republican primary election."
Yarmuth, an early supporter of Grimes in her Senate race and Conway in this year's race for governor, told the Herald-Leader Wednesday that had Grimes announced a run for governor, she "would've risked fracturing the party."
"That was a move toward party unity," Yarmuth said of her decision to seek re-election. "I don't think there's any question about it."
From top to bottom, the state Democratic Party appears to be in a strong position going into this year's election for state constitutional offices, in part because the factional in-fighting that has plagued the party for years seems unlikely given the lack of competition among the warring tribes.
The reversal of fortune is also a reversal of Kentucky political history. It was not long ago that Democratic primaries were standing-room only and Republicans struggled to field candidates for statewide offices.
This year, Democratic candidates face no opposition or only token opposition in all but one race, the battle for state treasurer, where five Democrats hope to replace outgoing Treasurer Todd Hollenbach. Meanwhile, Republicans are fielding multiple candidates for every office except state auditor.
"As far as I know, this is unprecedented," said Fayette County PVA David O'Neill.
O'Neill and other Democrats said their optimism is largely founded on the fact that Conway and other Democratic candidates can focus their time and energy on raising and saving money and crafting a winning message for November.
On Wednesday, Democrats were enjoying the first day of their opposition's intramural fighting, convinced that whoever does emerge from the Republican gubernatorial primary will be badly bruised with a depleted bank account.
"I'm sure it's going to be very, very nasty, and I have no idea which way that's going to come out," Yarmuth said of the Republican primary featuring Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, Louisville businessman Hal Heiner and former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott.
Yarmuth said an improving economy and improving opinions about Kynect as a successful program will also help Democrats this fall because "running against Obama isn't going to be as useful a strategy."
To that end, the congressman is optimistic about the future of the Democratic Party in Kentucky even on the federal level, mentioning that Republican U.S. Reps. Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield will have to retire someday.
And even if Democrats can't turn the state blue, Yarmuth said, they can "at least make it purple."
O'Neill echoed that sentiment, arguing that the absence of Democrat-on-Democrat bickering and backstabbing "gives us an opportunity to craft a message and to get it out there that we do offer promise and hope for working-class citizens."
"And then it's not just an inevitable march by the Republicans," O'Neill said.