Senate Passes Bill Abolishing Kentucky's Runoff Election

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky's primary runoff election would be abolished without ever being tried out under a bill passed by the state Senate on Monday night.

The 31-4 vote puts the Senate at odds with the House on an issue with high political stakes in this year's crowded race for governor.

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said that repealing the runoff would reap a savings of $5 million to $8 million for taxpayers.

The proposal to do away with the runoff garnered strong bipartisan support.

"It is a significant expense that frankly doesn't seem to be warranted," said Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville.

The measure now returns to the House, which will decide whether to accept the Senate's revamped version.

Earlier Monday, a Senate committee deleted the House's language that sought to preserve the runoff and, to appease county officials, have the state pick up the entire cost of the election. The House previously passed its version on a 90-7 vote.

Under state law, a runoff election would be held if a single candidate for governor does not get at least 40 percent of the vote in the May 22 primary. The top two candidates would go into a runoff taking place 35 days after the votes are certified.

The provision has been on the books since 1992 but so far never used.

The odds of a runoff coming into play increased with the flock of candidates in this year's gubernatorial primaries. Seven Democrats and three Republicans are seeking the gubernatorial nomination from their parties.

The legislation is House Bill 476.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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