I’ve covered Kentucky elections for over 40 years and I can’t think of one that was a greater shocker than this week’s primary; on all levels and for all parties.
Let me take them one by one:
CONGRESS: Oh how I wish Jim Gray had run again for mayor, as I said before he announced he wouldn’t. Oh how I wish Amy McGrath had run for congress against another incumbent from her old home town.
Did the Emmons family of political consultants stub their toes badly with their last minute TV ad questioning Mrs. McGrath’s lack of residence??? That will be debated for years, or at least until the next race (I think Yes)
Did I hear Andy Barr say he was “eager for debates?” That will be a change. I felt his lack of debating in two races was enough to cost him his job—as it did Ben Chandler once upon a time. We will see if he finally follows through.
STATE HOUSE: The Jonathan Shell loss to a first time candidate is the shocker-in-chief. His opponent, a teacher, is NOT a KEA member, and may even be more conservative than Shell. No matter. As House majority leader, and rising GOP star, this is a real blow to GOP control of each chamber, no matter what happens in November. And while it does show the current political muscle of teachers, the real question is: how long can they flex that muscle? Stay tuned.
MAYOR: The real winner here was the Lexington Herald-Leader, which endorsed the 2 winning candidates out of a much larger field. Seeing that the losers included a former mayor and a veteran councilman (who had the best and earliest TV ads) that’s a bit surprising (and probably puzzling to political scientists and reporters such as myself. Kevin Stinnett's ads were the ONLY ones that really spelled out a platform; these are the issues, here is what I would do.) The others were: I’m experienced, trust me. While Linda Gorton and Ronnie Bastin have experience, both have been out of the public eye for some time. I was surprised, but it will be a good race in the fall; and civil, and in the end voters will win.
(To my friends at the Herald-Leader, just remember all the past times when your recommendations weren’t followed by the voters.)
THE PARTIES: When are you going to either allow Kentucky to have open primaries (that is, allowing we who would prefer to register independent to vote in either party’s primary) or REQUIRE that candidates MUST show their party ID in their ads?? When Shell ran his TV ads without listing himself as a Republican he was in good company (most candidates of any party didn’t) and this is a FRAUD upon voters. How can these 2 major parties maintain that fiction if they won’t require party ID?
THE PRIMARY: I believe most years this is the more important race of the two. I also believe we should be allowed to vote in either party’s race regardless of how we are registered. I believe party ID should be required in campaign ads. I believe we should vote for as many people in the primary as go forward to November – if 2 go to the fall, we should be allowed to vote for 2 if the field be larger.
A FINAL WORD: The Grand OLD Party should re-evaluate its positions on a number of issues; remembering that once upon a time, not so long ago, Kentucky had 70 years of one party rule (MUCH too long)—so consider some changes, or...
And to the Democrats, temper your enthusiasm. It was a lousy turnout—23%. You & the GOP need to consider bi-partisan measures to get more voters to the polls. Finally, your party failed to put up candidates for CONGRESS in 3 of our 6 districts, that’s half, and may not in a fourth. Some statewide party, that.
I'm just sayin'...