Tuesday, January 30, 2007
From the Lexington Herald-Leader:
The entry of independently wealthy candidates in both parties in this year's crowded race for governor appears to be propelling a call to repeal a state law regarding primary runoff elections.
Under current state law, the top vote-getters in the May 22 primaries must receive at least 40 percent of the votes to win the Republican or Democratic nomination for governor. If no one in a primary reaches that threshold, the state must hold a runoff election a month later between the top two finishers in the primary. State Rep. Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, is backing legislation to do away with that electoral overtime period.
Both Republican and Democratic races for governor have attracted candidates with large pocketbooks, who could have a distinct advantage in a runoff election. Paducah businessman Billy Harper, a Republican, and Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford, a Democrat, are ready to spend millions of their own dollars to be Kentucky's next governor.
Former Democratic governor and current state Sen. Julian Carroll of Frankfort said that, although he thinks it would be "unfair to change" the rules, he would support eliminating the runoff "because it will save taxpayers the money it would cost for another election."
He said a runoff also would require the candidates to raise as much as $3 million within two weeks, a feat that could most likely be accomplished only by wealthy candidates who could write their campaign a big check.
Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said, "I don't think Republicans have been supportive of a runoff. It's been a Democrat proposal." Legislation to repeal the primary runoff law "would be received favorably in the Senate," he said.
House Speaker Jody Richards, a Bowling Green Democrat running for governor, said he did not know whether the primary runoff law will be repealed in this year's session. "I don't particularly like it but it makes no difference to me."
Memo to Frankfort politicians: Play the hand your dealt and shut up!