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Quiet Governor’s Race Could Mean Low Turnout This Year

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentuckians will head to the polls in about two months to choose their next governor. And one political expert believes there will be an unusually small number of voters making that choice.

“I think voter turnout is likely to be at a historic low for a governor’s race because there really is just not that much excitement for either candidate and not much prospect that there will be excitement,”said veteran political commentator Al Cross.

Voter turnout for the gubernatorial primaries in May was a mere 12.5 percent statewide.

The contest between Democratic nominee Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin is a statistical dead heat. Cross, the director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, said that hasn’t been enough to make this race more interesting.

Cross also said this has been an unusual political season because the presidential race has been getting so much attention and has overshadowed the Kentucky gubernatorial campaigns.

“Neither Conway nor Bevin has excited their parties, and a lot of the political oxygen is being sucked up by Donald Trump,” he said. “There is more talk about the presidential race than the governor’s race by far.”

In addition to Trump, Sen. Rand Paul has drawn attention among Republicans for his efforts to persuade the state party to adopt a caucus system. The party's central committee recently approved that plan. It will allow him to appear on Kentucky ballots twice: as a candidate for president and the U.S. Senate.

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