Governor's Race Outcome Could Effect Other Statewide Races

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Secretary of State Trey Grayson has long
been considered a rising star in Kentucky Republican Party
But if recent polls showing Gov. Ernie Fletcher trailing
challenger Steve Beshear hold true, Grayson and other statewide
candidates could see political blow back in their own races on Nov.
6, some political scientists and insiders say.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jonathan Miller said there would
be a "huge coattail effect" in this year's election.
"We feel very confident that Steve Beshear and Daniel Mongiardo
will win and could win by a healthy margin," Miller said. "And,
if that's the case, that will certainly help the rest of the
With about six weeks until the election, recent polls have shown
Fletcher trailing Beshear by double digits in his re-election bid -
one of three governors' races in the country this year.
Fletcher campaign spokesman Jason Keller said he would not
speculate on the accuracy of the polls. Fletcher has time before
the election to convince voters he's the best candidate for the
job, Keller said.
Other constitutional races on the ballot include: Grayson facing
a challenge from Democrat Bruce Hendrickson; incumbent state
Auditor Crit Luallen, a Democrat, against Republican Linda
Greenwell; and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, a Republican
and former University of Kentucky basketball player, against
Democrat David L. Williams.
And, Democrat Jack Conway and Republican state Rep. Stan Lee are
running for attorney general, while Democrat Todd Hollenbach is
facing Republican Melinda Wheeler in the state treasurer's race.
State Republican Party chairman Steve Robertson said he thinks
Kentucky voters would consider each candidate separately and not
cast straight-party ballots.
"One thing that we've seen in Kentucky over the last decade is
that Kentucky voters pay attention to the individuals they're
voting for," Robertson said. "I think that all of our candidates
are out there running fantastic campaigns and I think voters at the
end of the day are going to sit back and make a decision on who
they think is best."
Brett Hall, a former Fletcher spokesman and now Wheeler's
campaign manager, said he didn't trust the accuracy of most polls.
Neither Fletcher or Beshear would have a victory by more than 20
percentage points, preventing a strong coattail effect for either
candidate, Hall said.
"It doesn't have an effect until you reach that landslide type
proportion," Hall said. "I don't believe it'll be a landslide one
way or the other."
Nevertheless, candidates in less publicized races can be
affected by other contests on an election ballot, said Scott
Lasley, a political scientist at Western Kentucky University. That
"coattail effect" can be magnified in Kentucky because voters can
choose to vote for all the candidates of a particular party rather
than deciding on each race individually, Lasley said.
"Any time you have straight ticket voting, it's going to
increase the potential for coattails," Lasley said.
Farmer, because of his basketball roots, is a popular candidate
that may cause Democrats to think twice about voting a straight
ticket, Lasley said.
The so-called coattail effect can also help candidates who might
benefit from the ballot presence a more popular candidate of his or
her own party, said Joe Gershtenson, director of the Center for
Kentucky History and Politics at Eastern Kentucky University.
But what happens in the governor's race can have an effect
either way on candidates in other races, he said.
"There's no doubt there's always worries for candidates farther
down the ballot when the person at the top from your party is not
faring well," Gershtenson said.
Miller, a Democrat, won a second term as treasurer in 2003 amid
a favorable political climate for Republicans. Miller said it was a
"tough race" for him, despite Fletcher winning the governor's
race by about 10 percentage points.
Nevertheless Grayson, who is seeking his second term as
secretary of state, said he's using Miller's 2003 strategy of
traveling the state, stressing his record and fundraising.
"I just think that if Kentucky voters are presented with the
case for a quality candidate they're going to give that candidate a
shot," Grayson said.

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

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