Kentucky Politics & Government: Do We Stand United?

By Penny M. Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
Electoral Politics: Primaries, Participation, and Money

In a typical traditionalistic political culture like Kentucky's, one expects to find elite domination, and widespread apathy or ignorance among the general citizenry. In fact, the historic, political, geographic, economic, and cultural divisions in Kentucky discussed in earlier chapters have made a more complex reality, but have combined with apathy to hamper periodic attempts at reform.

Traditionally, the governorship is won in the Democratic primary. Those primaries are the grist of Kentucky's political history. The definitive study of Democratic primaries in southern states from the late 1920s through the 1940s is V. O. Key Southern Politics, which focuses on various patterns of factionalism.1 Utilizing Key's model to analyze southern primaries, Earl and Merle Black conclude that traditional Democratic factionalism has declined and that there has been a slow growth of competition in Republican primaries.2 The trend toward the Republican party that has swept through most southern and border states has been felt in Kentucky elections, except at the gubernatorial level; Kentucky is similar to other southern and border states, though slower than most, as discussed in chapter 9, to build a state and local Republican base.3

Before analyzing Kentucky's predominant voter apathy--and before describing electoral politics in a broader sense--it is useful to sketch the course of postfactional Democratic gubernatorial politics.4 The "lessons" of Kentucky's recent gubernatorial primaries are still with us.


PATTERNS OF COMPETITION IN RECENT DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARIES

Contests from 1971 through 1983

The two leading candidates in the 1971 Democratic primary had much in common and disagreed about little except who would make the better gover

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