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Legislation that would allow registered independents to vote in party primaries in Kentucky is unlikely to pass this year.

The Senate has passed the bill, but it does not have enough support to clear a House committee.

The measure would let the nearly 200,000 independents in Kentucky choose a primary to vote in for each election. Senator Jimmy Higdon sponsored the measure and he says he will try to pass it again next year.

Opponents of the bill say primaries should be meant for the party faithful to choose candidates.

CFAIR, the Fairness Campaign’s political action committee, has made its endorsements for the May primary:

  • Councilman David Tandy – Mayor of Louisville, Democratic Primary
  • Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh – Metro Council District 9, Democratic Primary
  • William Cohen – Metro Council District 17, Democratic Primary
  • Mike Slaton – Kentucky House of Representatives District 41, Democratic Primary
  • Mike O’Connell – Jefferson County Attorney
  • Stephanie Pearce Burke – District Court Judge Division 14
  • Mark Abrams – County Judge Executive, Republican Primary
  • Curt Morrison – County Judge Executive, Democratic Primary

Political Reporter Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader is tweeting from the Secretary of State’s office. If a candidate files, he’ll post an update.

The filing period ends at 4:00 today.

If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a pretty nice writeup in the CJ about the SCOTUS ‘corporate personhood’ ruling and what it means for elections in Kentucky.

Craig Dilger, chairman of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, said the ruling conflicts with Kentucky’s Constitution, which prohibits corporations from giving anything of value to a candidate for office. The registry may have to change its rules or seek legislation to comply with the ruling.

Dilger said the state needs to consider requiring corporations that engage in political activity to disclose their activity and determine if it can limit the amount of money that could be spent on behalf of a candidate.

Emily Dennis, general counsel for the registry, said the decision won’t affect the state’s prohibition on corporate contributions directly to campaigns.

Indiana imposes limits on corporate and labor contributions to campaigns and campaign committees, which are not affected by the court’s decision. However, it does not restrict independent corporate expenditures on advertising during campaigns, though such commercials are rare.

[edit]

Kentucky Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said he doesn’t believe the court ruling will make much difference, since corporations and labor unions have in the past been “ignoring” the law by using PACs and “527 groups,” so named because they are organized under Section 527 of the federal tax code.

In Indiana, some expect the court’s decision to open the door to major spending on Indiana’s federal races, especially in Democrat Baron Hill’s 9th Congressional district — which has been hotly contested over the last decade. This year at least three Republicans, Including New Albany businessman Mike Sodrel, plan to seek the party’s nomination to try to unseat Hill.

“This absolutely changes the game,” said former state Democratic Party Chairman Kip Tew, who was a co-chairman of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Indiana. “This would mean that Mike Sodrel’s (trucking) company could now do whatever it wanted to help Sodrel get elected.”

State Representative Larry Clark has introduced a bill that would block candidates from spending large donations from their parents, if the donations were meant to help fund a political campaign.

The bill is a reaction to mayoral candidate and Metro Councilman Jim King‘s gift to his daughter Katie during her 2008 judicial campaign.

From the C-J:

Under the provisions of Clark’s House Bill 214, personal funds that candidates would be allowed to contribute in unlimited sums to their campaigns would include money they had before the campaign began; salary earned during the campaign; money from the sale of investments; bequests and trusts created by bequests; trusts established before the election cycle; proceeds from lotteries and other games of chance; and personal gifts that had been customarily given prior to beginning of the election cycle.

The bill was filed at the request of the Registry of Election Finance and the King’s support it.

Sheryl Snyder, the Kings’ lawyer, welcomed the legislation, saying that it would have saved his clients time, money and trouble had the law been changed before the 2008 election.

“It’s way overdue,” he said. “If the statute had been clearly written so people knew what the rules were, the Kings wouldn’t have made the gift, wouldn’t have had the ensuing litigation expenses, much less the criticism.”

We’ll link to the bill’s text when it’s posted.

I talked to George McGovern for this week’s Studio 619. He’s going to speak at the First Church Of Christ Scientist at 5:00 on Sunday. It’s part of the tour for his latest book, which is about Abraham Lincoln.

The interview started out as a discussion of the book, but it soon became a lecture (the good kind of lecture) on how the lessons of history can and should be applied to modern times. You’ll have to listen to the show (see below for the full recording or listen to the podcast) to hear all of the details, but the former senator is keen on learning from the past. At first this surprised me, given the fact that McGovern ran for president in 1984, but he made his points clearly.

On the negativism and partisanship of today, he said it’s upsetting but not a sign of impending doom. There were nattering nabobs in the press and politics on both sides in 1790, 1860, 1972 and 2008 and the national always survived. The historical precedents that worry McGovern are the kind that are ignored. Despite supporting President Obama, McGovern says putting more troops into Afghanistan is a bad idea. The English tried it and failed, the Russians tried it and failed and McGovern says the Americans are going down a dangerous path. He says it’s not a militarist mindset on the part of Westerners that leads to failures, it’s the culture and structure of Afghanistan. A nation that has historically favored regional leaders over national government can’t be fought the same way a country with a strong central state can. But McGovern isn’t without hope for the country. After all, Russia and the U.K still exist.

I closed the interview by asking McGovern about  Hunter S. Thompson‘s book Fear And Loathing On the Campaign Trail 1972, which covers (in true Gonzo fashion) the infamous Nixon-McGovern election and the primary campaigns that led up to it. McGovern pointed out that Thompson was the first national reporter to predict a McGovern primary victory. He said it’s Thompson’s most important book and said, “I love the guy. He was brilliant about three or four days a week and he was slightly crazy the other three or four days…I suspect drugs or booze had something to do with that.”

Listen to the interview

Stats wizard Nate Silver at 538.com has weighed in on Senator Jim Bunning’s chances for re-election now that Secretary of State Trey Grayson has formed an exploratory committee. From Silver:

Kentucky, while being a somewhat conservative state, is also still a rather Democratic state, at least in terms of is voters’ declared party preferences. Gallup gives Democrats a 13-point party identification advantage in Kentucky (counting “leaners”), which places it roughly in the middle of the pack nationally. No, Kentucky is not going to vote for certain types of Democrats — particularly liberal, northern Democrats named “Barack Obama” who gave the state the cold shoulder. But it elects plenty of moderate-to-conservative Democrats to statewide and national offices, like its Governor Steve Beshear, as well as [Lt. Governor] Mongiardo, [Attorney General] Conway and [Congressman] Chandler. Democrats also have a 65-35 advantage in the Kentucky State House, although Republicans control the State Senate.

Do you think Silver’s analysis holds up? Will Conway or Mongiardo’s party affiliation help them beat Grayson if Bunning drops out, or does Grayson appeal to the so-called leaners? Do you vote along party lines for state and local elections?

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