Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Silence is Appropriate

Silence should suffice as the decision. The runoff should remain. The pending election is vital. Kentuckians deserve thorough, vigorous, and robust debate. However, the discussion should not cease on May 22. Those whose candidate is not amongst the top two deserve a voice in the nomination process.

Obviously, Governor Fletcher is “inclined to sign the runoff repeal.” Given his fundraising difficulty, poll position, and Anne Northup’s continual mistakes, Fletcher’s lone concern is position preservation. Those campaigning should not establish the campaign’s rules.

The runoff has never been utilized. However, the provision is necessary. This year, Kentuckians have a decision. This decision should not be arbitrarily, unfairly, and politically limited.

From the Kentucky Post:

Lawmakers adjourned Monday night without reaching a decision on whether to abolish the state's runoff election. The Senate had proposed eliminating the runoff, which would follow the May 22 primary if none of the candidates for governor received at least 40 percent of the vote. The House favored keeping the election.

The issue carries big political stakes in this year's crowded race for governor, which has attracted seven Democrats and three Republicans. Uncertainty about the runoff's fate will linger for a couple of weeks. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on March 26 for the final two days of the 2007 session, leaving the gubernatorial candidates in suspense until then. The proposed repeal drew bipartisan support Monday night in the Senate.

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said the repeal would avoid an unnecessary election that would cost taxpayers $5 million to $8 million. Democratic Sen. Tim Shaughnessy of Louisville called it a "significant expense that frankly doesn't seem to be warranted."

Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who is running for re-election, later said he would be "inclined" to sign the runoff repeal if the bill reaches his desk. The measure passed the Senate on a 31-4 vote and returned to the House, which voted 90-7 last week to preserve the runoff and, to appease county officials, have the state pick up the entire cost of a runoff election. House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins said Monday night that the House would likely reject the Senate version and send the matter to a House-Senate conference committee. "Most of our members, I believe, feel more comfortable with keeping the runoff, but putting in the money to pay for it," Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said in an interview.

He said the House might consider repealing the runoff for future elections. But Adkins said there appeared to an unwillingness among House Democrats to alter the dynamics of a governor's race that's already under way. "We're already in an election cycle, the rules are in place," he said.

Under state law, a runoff election would be held if a single candidate for governor does not get at least 40 percent of the vote in the primary. The top two candidates would go into a runoff taking place 35 days after the votes are certified. The provision has been on the books since 1992 but so far never used. The odds of a runoff coming into play increased this year with the flock of candidates running in the gubernatorial primaries.

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