What to watch in Ky. this fall: the Obama effect, Beshear's involvement and GOP efforts in House

05/31/2012 03:07 PM

Kentucky has few marquee match-ups on the November ballot. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t key story lines to watch. For instance:

  • The net change in the state House, where Democrats hold a nine-seat advantage and Republicans hope to pick up enough seats to convince a few Democrats to switch parties to give them control.
  • Whether Gov. Steve Beshear gets involved in races, particularly state Senate contests, and how he does it.
  • And the spillover effect President Barack Obama might have on other races — for better and for worse.

Trey Grayson, director of the Harvard Institute of Politics, said Republicans in western Kentucky have been eager to link Democratic candidates to national Democrats over the last few presidential races.

“They wanted to put John Kerry signs next to all the Democratic candidates because they thought that would help. And I suspect those same folks will want to put Obama signs next to the Democratic signs out west,” Grayson said. (0:30)

In the state Senate races, Grayson handicapped the open 1st state Senate district to replace retiring Republican Sen. Ken Winters of Murray. (3:15)

And he said it wouldn’t be wise for Beshear and Democrats to target the Republican incumbents with Democratic opposition — Sens. Robert Stivers of Manchester and Damon Thayer of Georgetown — because both been willing to work across the aisle on certain issues.

“Maybe it would be different if it were a one-seat margin, but the Republicans are going to keep control of the Senate. So it would be really foolish for them,” he said. (4:20)

Grayson said the biggest race is likely the 6th Congressional District — a rematch between Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles and Andy Barr, a Republican and lawyer from Lexington. Chandler perhaps didn’t have as much respect for Barr’s chances in 2010 and Barr came within 648 votes of beating him.

“He’s not going to make that same mistake again,” Grayson said of Chandler. “I just don’t think just because you’re having a rematch and Andy will be a stronger candidate, the environment might be a little weaker.”


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