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Political Parties and Primaries in Kentucky

Political Parties and Primaries in Kentucky

Penny M. Miller
Malcolm E. Jewell
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hq29
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    Political Parties and Primaries in Kentucky
    Book Description:

    This is a study of Kentucky political parties: how they are organized and how they nominate and elect candidates. Because state politics in Kentucky is dominated by the Democratic Party, a major portion of the study is devoted to the Democratic primary candidates, campaign techniques, funding, of elections, and voting patterns.

    As in other slates, campaign techniques in Kentucky are changing. During the 1950s and 1960s the Democratic Party had two dominant factions, and candidates for statewide office sought factional allies among local party organizations. Now factional alignments have disappeared, and candidates for statewide office build campaign organizations from thousands of active party workers. The characteristics, motivations, and allegiances of these party activists form one major focus of this book.

    Another focus is television, which has assumed ever greater importance in statewide primary campaigns. Because it is expensive, candidates who are wealthy or can raise large sums for television advertising enter the primaries with a substantial advantage, and those who use that medium most effectively are most likely to win. Two wealthy candidates who proved to be talented campaigners in person and on television were nominated by the Democrats in 1987: Wallace Wilkinson in the gubernatorial race and Brereton Jones in the race for lieutenant governor. The book features case studies of these two campaigns, which in many ways typify modern primary elections in Kentucky.

    Finally, since the 1950s, the Republican Party has been highly successful in campaigns for national office in Kentucky but has been unable to elect a governor since 1967. This study provides some answers to two questions: What is wrong with the Republican Party in Kentucky? And why are so many Kentuckians voting Republican in national races and Democratic in state races?

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6386-4
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. 1 KENTUCKY IN A NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
    (pp. 1-7)

    THE AMERICAN political and electoral system is characterized by diversity and change. Every state is different, with its own unique political history, traditions, leaders, and partisan loyalties. Political scientists often use the termpolitical cultureto define the dominant beliefs and attitudes in a state that are shaped by its political history (Patterson, 1968; Rosenthal and Moakley, 1984). Kentucky has its own style of politics, its own history and political culture.

    State political systems, however, are not immune from national political forces, and changes in the politics of a state cannot be understood without a knowledge of national trends. Shifts...

  7. 2 DEMOCRATIC PARTY ORGANIZATION
    (pp. 8-39)

    In Kentucky the governor is usually recognized as the most important leader in the Democratic party. The governor has traditionally been strong in Kentucky—as a legislative leader and as a politician—even though the constitution prevents his or her serving two consecutive terms. Democratic control of the governorship has been so common in the last sixty years that party leadership has not gravitated to other elected officials or to the party chairman. There is very little precedent for determining who will exercise party leadership in periods of Republican gubernatorial control (Jewell and Cunningham, 1968: 39). During the only Republican...

  8. 3 DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARIES, PAST AND PRESENT
    (pp. 40-66)

    OVER A forty-year period, from 1947 through 1987, with only one exception, the winner of the Democratic primary has been elected governor. For that reason the most interesting and important state political battles have been fought in the Democratic party. From the mid-1930s to the late 1960s, Kentucky politics was dominated by two factions, named after their dominant leaders, Earle C. Clements and A.B. “Happy” Chandler. Since 1971, however, these factions have faded away, to be replaced by a shifting pattern of personal alliances. At the same time, strategy for winning a primary election has changed, with local organizations declining...

  9. 4 THE 1987 DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY
    (pp. 67-95)

    ON MAY 26,1987, Wallace Wilkinson won the Democratic gubernatorial primary with 35 percent of the vote; he finished nine percentage points and 58,000 votes ahead of his nearest competitor, John Y. Brown. Two weeks earlier Wilkinson’s own poll had shown him trailing Brown by fourteen points; aCotlrie-Joumapoll in early March had shown Wilkinson running fifth, with only 7 percent of the vote.

    How did Wilkinson come from so far behind to win the race? How did the campaigns of the front-runners, Brown and Steve Beshear, collapse? What made the race so volatile and the voters so unpredictable? In...

  10. 5 THE 1987 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR STATEWIDE OFFICES
    (pp. 96-124)

    WHILE PUBLIC attention is focused on the gubernatorial primary, candidates are running for seven other statewide races. Most of these candidates start the race with low visibility and limited resources, but they must gain the attention of the same set of voters who participate in the gubernatorial race.

    In the past many of these campaigns have been relatively low-keyed, low-cost affairs, using traditional organizational techniques. But these campaigns have begun to acquire some of the characteristics of a gubernatorial campaign, with greater expense and greater use of television. In this chapter we describe in some detail the best example of...

  11. 6 PARTY ACTIVISTS
    (pp. 125-151)

    IN RECENT years an extensive literature has developed on the attitudes, motivations, and activities of party activists—on differences between “amateurs” (see Carney, 1958; Wilson, 1962; Hirschfield, Swanson, and Blank, 1962) and “professionals” (see Kent, 1923; Salter, 1935; Forthal, 1946) and on the reasons why convention delegates support certain presidential candidates (Abramowitz, McGlennon, and Rapoport, 1986a, 1986b). But very little attention has been paid to activists who work in statewide primary campaigns. This is unfortunate, since volunteer activists continue to play a crucial role in statewide primary elections, even in an era of professional campaign managers and media-oriented campaigns. Volunteer...

  12. 7 CANDIDATE CHOICE AMONG GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY ACTIVISTS
    (pp. 152-193)

    VERY LITTLE is known about what brings state party activists into a particular candidate’s primary campaign. Since volunteer staffers are still key actors in the nominating and campaign decision-making processes, a better understanding of what leads them into particular candidates’ camps is long overdue.

    Activists might be drawn to a particular candidate for many different reasons. Theamateurmodel assumes that active campaign workers are recruited from outside the party system to campaign for certain causes or candidates (Carney, 1958; Wilson, 1962). This model may be appropriate in certain settings, but it can be rejected out of hand for Kentucky,...

  13. 8 FUNDING POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS
    (pp. 194-224)

    IN ORDER to run a competitive, statewide campaign in Kentucky, a candidate must employ a wide variety of techniques for communicating with at least half a million voters. The candidate must travel back and forth across the state, along with members of the staff, for many months. Campaign literature must be printed and mailed to hundreds of thousands of voters; yard signs and bumper stickers must be purchased and distributed. Many of the jobs that used to be performed by volunteers are now carried out by paid workers, such as those who run the phone banks. A serious candidate for...

  14. 9 REPUBLICAN ORGANIZATION AND FRAGMENTATION
    (pp. 225-244)

    IN MANY respects, Kentucky is a competitive two-party state. The Republican party has won seven of nine presidential elections starting in 1956. It held both U.S. Senate seats from 1957 to 1972 and regained one in the 1984 election. In the U.S. House the Republicans have consistently held the mountain Republican seat; since the mid-1960s they have consistently held at least one seat in the suburbs of Louisville and northern Kentucky; and since 1978 they have held a Bluegrass seat centered in Lexington. The Republican majority exceeded 60 percent in Sen. John Sherman Cooper’s race in 1966 and in the...

  15. 10 NOMINATING AND ELECTING REPUBLICANS
    (pp. 245-272)

    In order to vote in Republican primaries, a voter must be registered as a Republican; and during the gubernatorial primaries from 1979 through 1987, the percentage of registration that was Republican remained steady at 28 percent (down from 30 percent in 1975).

    Registered Republican voters are distributed unevenly across the state, even more so than are the Democrats (chapter 3). In 1987 the largest proportion of Republican registrants (37 percent) was found in 29 counties where they constituted a majority of those registered; 29 percent were in the four major metropolitan counties, where they constituted 29 percent of registered voters;...

  16. 11 PATTERNS OF VOTER TURNOUT
    (pp. 273-283)

    The conventional wisdom is that the turnout of voters in Kentucky elections is relatively low, and that impression is accurate. In the presidential elections from 1972 through 1988, Kentucky ranked between thirty-fourth and fortieth in voter turnout. In gubernatorial elections from 1960 through 1986, Kentucky ranked thirty-second among the forty-two states electing governors in nonpresidential election years. On the other hand, in gubernatorial primaries from 1951 through 1982 (when both primaries were contested), Kentucky ranked nineteenth out of thirty-six nonsouthern states.

    It is important to understand why, and in what types of elections, voting turnout is low. Under what types...

  17. 12 PARTISANSHIP AND VOTING PATTERNS IN GENERAL ELECTIONS
    (pp. 284-314)

    Kentuckians think of their state as fundamentally Democratic, but this has not always been true in the past, and it is not an accurate description of modern politics. From the mid-1890s until 1932, Kentucky had one of the most competitive two-party systems in the country. The Democratic party had a 6 to 3 margin in presidential victories from 1896 to 1928, but its electoral margin was usually small and often less than a majority. The Republican party won five of nine gubernatorial elections from 1895 through 1927, including the disputed election of 1899. The legislature, however, with rare exceptions remained...

  18. APPENDIX. Description of Independent Variables
    (pp. 315-315)
  19. REFERENCES
    (pp. 316-321)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 322-326)