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Friends and Family Election on May 19th
Ag Commissioner James Comer running second to Heiner in GOP primary .

May 19, 2015 is Primary Election Day in Kentucky. It is shaping up to be a day that most poll workers dread - a long boring one. At this writing, predictions of a 20% turnout sound optimistic.

It is the perfect low turnout storm. Kentucky is one of twelve states that uses a closed primary system. Voters must stay in their lanes. No crossing over to vote for the other Party's guy or gal. Independents and smaller parties can take the day off. No national candidates on the ballot.

In my head, I am calling this the "Friends and Family Election." A group as small as a cell phone calling circle may be enough to propel a candidate into office. For those on the ballot in May, vote totals will be all about getting their nearest and dearest to the polls. Recruiting the faithful is taking the lead over converting the unwilling. This may be the first Kentucky election where winners are judged by the number of Facebook friends they have.

There just isn't the snap, crackle, pop that attracts voters to a primary election. This is the year that those wanting to go to the White House stayed away.

No presidential primaries until May 2016? Say whaaaatt????

That's hard to believe if one listens to the 24 hour a day news cycle. The fervor, the concentration, the tech toys, all focused on who's in now. Candidate announcements are greeted with endless rounds of analysis until the next one. Hillary Rodham Clinton's announcement is even accompanied by a map showing her driving route to that most sacred of political shrines - Iowa. As candidates throw their fedoras in the ring, the cable monster that must be fed chews them up, swallows and digests them. Satiated for the moment. Until the next one. Rand Paul. Ted Cruse. Marco Rubio, Lincoln Chaffee. Anticipated - Martin O'Malley, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and Ben Carson. At this writing, it appears Vice President Biden is backing away from the gaping maw of presidential politics.

THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY - Getting excited about a race for State Treasurer?

On the Democratic side, there are few serious contests. In the governor's race, Jack Conway and his running mate Sanny Overly are unopposed. Alison Lundergan Grimes, shown at right with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has less than serious opposition in Charles Lovett of Louisville. Adam Edelen and two newcomers with familiar names Andy Beshear, son of Governor Steve Beshear and radio personality Jean-Marie Lawson Spann are also unopposed.

In the race for state treasurer, an open seat because two term Treasurer Todd Hollenbach is term limited, friends and family will be key for Democratic candidates. Two candidates from Louisville -Daniel Grossberg, a realtor and Neville Blakemore, chairman of Great Northern Building Products face off against three Kentucky House members - Rep. Jim Glenn of Owensboro, Rep. Richard Henderson of Mt. Sterling and Rep. Rick Nelson of Middlesboro. Because there are no legislative races in 2015, running for a full time government job is a safe bet for legislators - losing means going back to their district to run for another term.

THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY - A lively race to face Jack Conway in November is best draw.

Republicans are hungry for another round in the Governor's Mansion. Four men are competing to be the candidate to take on Jack Conway in November.

Matt Bevin of Louisville ran an unsuccessful campaign against Senator Mitch McConnell. Known as a Tea Party favorite, the McConnell campaign painted Bevin as a carpetbagger on the government dole. That was a less than accurate portrayal of Bevin, but enough voters bought it for McConnell to roll over Bevin in the primary.

Bevin must be having flashbacks because similar ads are being run against him in the governor's race. According to campaign watch website, Ballotopia:

"The emergence of ads criticizing James Comer, Jr. and Matt Bevin turned up the temperature on the April 8 debate in Louisville. Comer and Bevin were targeted in TV ads aired the previous day by Citizens for a Sound Government, a group funded by political operative Alan Philp. Philp has prior connections to billionaires Charles and David Koch and also serves as the chairman of the pro-Heiner Bluegrass Action Fund. In one ad, one of Bevin's companies was criticized for failure to pay taxes."

Fellow Louisvillian Hal Heiner is a real estate developer and former member of the Jefferson County Metro Council. In 2010, Heiner was beaten for the job of Jefferson County Judge by Democrat Greg Fischer. In that race, Heiner received 125,000 votes. Heiner has more money than all of his primary opponents combined at last report with a balance of $3 million dollars on hand. He has been running television advertisements advertising himself as the true conservative and job creator.

Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, being the only statewide office holder among the GOP hopefuls, was the early money favorite. But Comer has trailed Heiner in recent polling. A March Bluegrass Poll had Heiner up by 33% to Comer's 19%. Comer's most recent ad seeks to bring that most hated name among Republicans to the forefront - President Barack Obama. "Comer will stand up to Obama."

Former Kentucky Supreme Court Judge Will T. Scott is a native of Pike County. Scott is running on a platform to fix the state retirement system, charter schools and support for the coal industry. Scott is presently polling in the single digits and is a longshot to be the GOP nominee.

The Republican Party has two candidates running unopposed - Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville will face Auditor Adam Edelen in the fall. Facing Alison Lundergan Grimes in the fall for the job of Secretary of State will be Stephen Knipper of Independence.

Two candidates are vying to face Andy Beshear for Attorney General: Lawrence County Attorney Michael Hogan of Louisa and Kentucky State Senator Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville. Hogan jabbed at other candidates by saying his race for AG is not a stepping stone. Westerfield, a 2006 UK Law School graduate, told CN/2 that people are surprised to see a young man with the first name of Whitney.

In the GOP primary race for state treasurer, House member Kenneth Imes, shown at left, of Murray will face attorney Allison Ball of Prestonsburg and Lexington's Jon Larson, who thinks the office should be abolished. In a March Bluegrass Poll, Ball was ahead of her two opponents with 62% undecided.

Commissioner of Agriculture candidates are Rep. Richard Heath of Mayfield and Rep. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown. Quarles leads his opponent in fundraising and polling. But there remains a 66% undecided group far exceeding both candidates' numbers.

SUMMARY - Y'all come out now, ya' hear?

The statewide ballot on Tuesday, May 19th is not one that strikes fire into the casual political observer's heart. It's one that only kinfolk and friends can get too excited about.

In the Purchase region of far western Kentucky, Democrats on paper outnumber Republicans by a ratio of 4 :1 by registration, a nonexistent Democratic contest means a ho-hum for 75% of the electorate. Registration on paper doesn't mean that the general election is a shoe in for Democratic candidates, as past elections have clearly shown.

But closed primaries mean small turnouts when the races are all on the GOP side of the aisle. If the Bluegrass polls are accurate and the predicted 20% turnout holds true, then in McCracken County, only 3500 voters of 17,000+ registered Republicans will show up to vote.

Professional politicos emphasize that name recognition is the name of the game in a low interest, low turnout primary. For this Friends and Family Election Day, candidates should be chanting to supporters -

"Bring the kinfolk. They will be all we need to win."

Who's on the ballot on May 19th? Chart extracted from KY Board of Elections

Last Name

First Name

Party

Office

City

Conway

Jack

Democratic Party

Governor / Lt. Governor

Louisville

Bevin

Matt

Republican Party

Governor / Lt. Governor

Louisville

Comer

James

Republican Party

Governor / Lt. Governor

Frankfort

Heiner

Hal

Republican Party

Governor / Lt. Governor

Louisville

Scott

Will

Republican Party

Governor / Lt. Governor

Pikeville

Grimes

Alison

Democratic Party

Secretary of State

Lexington

Lovett

Charles

Democratic Party

Secretary of State

Louisville

Knipper

Stephen

Republican Party

Secretary of State

Independence

Pitzer

Michael

Republican Party

Secretary of State

Louisville

Beshear

Andy

Democratic Party

Attorney General

Louisville

Hogan

Michael

Republican Party

Attorney General

Louisa

Westerfield

Whitney

Republican Party

Attorney General

Hopkinsville

Edelen

Adam

Democratic Party

Auditor of Public Accounts

Lexington

Harmon

Mike

Republican Party

Auditor of Public Accounts

Danville

Blakemore

Neville

Democratic Party

State Treasurer

Louisville

Glenn

Jim

Democratic Party

State Treasurer

Owensboro

Grossberg

Daniel

Democratic Party

State Treasurer

Louisville

Henderson

Richard

Democratic Party

State Treasurer

Mt. Sterling

Nelson

Rick

Democratic Party

State Treasurer

Middlesboro

Ball

Allison

Republican Party

State Treasurer

Prestonsburg

Imes

Kenneth

Republican Party

State Treasurer

Louisville

Larson

Jon

Republican Party

State Treasurer

Lexington

Lawson Spann

Jean-Marie

Democratic Party

Commissioner of Agriculture

Union

Heath

Richard

Republican Party

Commissioner of Agriculture

Mayfield

Quarles

Ryan

Republican Party

Commissioner of Agriculture

Georgetown

Ovey-Wiggins

Carrie

Democratic Party

Commonwealth's Attorney

Eddyville

Lewis

John

Nonpartisan

Justice of the Supreme Court

Sandy Hook

Stumbo

Janet

Nonpartisan

Justice of the Supreme Court

Prestonsburg

Wright

Sam

Nonpartisan

Justice of the Supreme Court

Whitesburg


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