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Thu, Mar 30, 2017 05:42 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
This n' That
What Election?
It will probably comes as a surprise to most people that there's an election in Kentucky next Tuesday.

An election? What election?

Well, to begin with Democratic and Republican voters will select their party nominees for governor.

Oh, yeah? Who are the candidates?

Well, on the Democratic side there's Attorney General Ben Chandler, Louisville millionaire Bruce Lunsford and House Speaker Jody Richards, the three major candidates on that party's ballot.

On the Republican ticket are U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher, state Rep. Steve Nunn, former Jefferson County Judge-Executive Rebecca Jackson and state Sen. Virgil Moore.

Who's going to win?

Political wisdom says that Chandler will pull off the win for the Democratic nomination, although it probably won't be as easy as it was first thought. Chandler's main competition, according to the polls, is Lunsford, who has put a ton of his own money in the race. Speculation that he might pull a Wallace Wilkinson has been going around lately, and it would be the first upset in a gubernatorial primary since Wilkinson proved everyone wrong and defeated former Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. and others in 1987. Lunsford could pull it off, especially if Chandler supporters take the race for granted and don't vote.

Fletcher will likely win the GOP nod. I was surprised to learn the other day that Jackson, not Nunn, is second in recent polls, but that could be because she is from the state's largest county population-wise. Nunn will probably do well in Eastern Kentucky, particularly in Johnson County, where his father, former Gov. Louie B. Nunn, is considered a political god by many veteran Republicans.

If Fletcher wins the primary, he, like all Republican gubernatorial nominees, will have an extremely tough time in November no matter who the Democratic nominee will be. He reminds me a lot of former U.S. Rep. Larry Hopkins, who was the GOP nominee in 1991. Hopkins was considered the party's strongest candidate since Louie Nunn in 1967, yet when he started campaigning many voters were surprised at his lack of charisma and his lack of addressing real issues. When all was said and done, Hopkins did as poorly as the late John Harper, who was trounced by Wilkinson in 1987. Hopkins' poor showing was one reason he decided not to seek re-election to his U.S. House seat.

There are other statewide races on next Tuesday's ballot, and probably the most-watched contest, at least here in the mountains, is for attorney general, where House Majority Leader Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg is challenging former Attorney General Chris Gorman and State Auditor Ed Hatchett in the Democratic primary. Stumbo has been criticized, especially by Gorman, for problems in his professional and personal life, and instead of addressing those issues, he has gone on the defensive and attacked his opponents.

Who will win that race?

Unless Stumbo does extremely well in his native Eastern Kentucky and fairly well in the rest of the state, don't look for Stumbo to win the Democratic nomination. Because of his powerful position in the General Assembly, Stumbo has a lot more baggage and negative publicity than his opponents, and he hasn't attempted to do much to make himself look like the good guy.

What are the other races on the ballot?

Party nominees will also be selected for secretary of state, state treasurer, agriculture commissioner and state auditor, but none of these races have seemed to generate much interest.

But just because there hasn't been much interest doesn't mean we should sit at home next Tuesday and not vote. Show everybody that you care about Kentucky's future. Get out and vote!

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