Party leaders bracing for 2nd time in a row that a contested presidential primary could come to Ky.

03/19/2012 08:30 AM

The mixed victories over the last week in the Republican presidential primary only underscore the growing likelihood that Kentucky’s primary still will matter by May 22.

Once an afterthought with its relatively late primary, Kentucky Democrats got to weigh in on that party’s contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008. And now Republicans Mitt Romney and at least Rick Santorum look to be still slugging it out two months from now, observers and Kentucky party officials say.

Romney has raised the most money of the Republican candidates so far in Kentucky, but observers say that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to win this state in the May primary — especially with a Paul in the mix.

Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Steve Robertson said the competitive primary has ratcheted up the interest among Republicans. Kentucky Democratic party spokesman Matt Erwin said the ongoing uncertainty in the Republican primary only helps President Barack Obama’s re-election prospects nationally. However, it’s nearly a certainty that the Republican presidential nominee will win in Kentucky.

And Al Cross, former political writer for the Courier-Journal and now director of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, said the continuing primary has shown the weaknesses of Romney and Santorum.

Republican consultant Scott Jennings, who is volunteering for Romney’s campaign in Kentucky, told “Pure Politics” that he expects Romney to campaign in Kentucky in the coming weeks.

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