State May Look To Extend Deadline For Presidential Candidates

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Whether Democrats put up U.S. Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or someone else, their candidate for president could go unopposed in Kentucky unless the legislature changes the law.

Right now, Kentucky's filing deadline for presidential candidates is Sept. 2, 2008 - two days before the Republican National Convention is scheduled to wrap up, meaning the GOP nominee likely wouldn't be officially named until after Kentucky's deadline.

"That would be eight electoral votes that the Republicans couldn't get that they've gotten in the last two cycles," Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, said. "It can swing an election one way or another."

Grayson said he's hoping the General Assembly tweaks Kentucky's election law to move the filing deadline to Sept. 5, 2008. That should give county clerks across the state enough time to prepare the ballots.

Such a change would not be unprecedented in Kentucky, Grayson said. The filing deadline was changed in 1996 to accommodate the Democratic Party's nomination schedule.

Officials believed there were about 10 states that had deadlines earlier than the expected date of the nomination, according to Les Fugate, a spokesman for Grayson.

State Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, said moving the deadline seemed reasonable, but that it might be too late in the legislature's current session to make the change. Owens added the dilemma would likely be "one of the first things in the hopper" when the legislature convenes in 2008.

"Something needs to be done, obviously," said Owens, chairman of the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, filed a proposal late Wednesday that would allow for the deadline to be pushed up.

"Due to the late date of the Republican National Convention, it's a necessary step to ensure that we actually have someone on the ballot in November of 2008," Thayer said.

National Republican candidates have fared well in Kentucky in recent elections. President Bush won Kentucky in both of his presidential runs, taking in 59.6 percent of the vote in 2004 and 56.5 percent in 2000.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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