On Tuesday it will be in the voters’ hands – a national election that some observers claimed put the “ugh” in ugly and involved the “Russian government,” purloined emails and countless allegations against both major party presidential candidates.
Kentuckians also have local races up for consideration, including Bowling Green City Commission, state representative and congressional races.
Voters will decide whether they want the nation’s first woman president, Democrat Hillary Clinton, or the nation’s first billionaire businessman president, Republican Donald Trump, a political newcomer who bested 16 other GOP challengers to gain his party’s nomination.
Both flooded the airwaves with campaign commercials and faced off in three nationally televised debates. Pre-election polls indicate a close race in the nation’s popular vote; however, where the votes fall in the Electoral College will determine who wins. Many voters across America decided to vote early to avoid the predicted long lines at polling stations.
Clinton and Trump made Kentucky appearances during the Kentucky state primary races, with Clinton stopping in Bowling Green. She narrowly defeated Democratic primary challenger U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in Kentucky’s Democratic primary. Trump eased past U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in the Kentucky GOP caucus. That caucus was prompted by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s intention to run both for re-election to the Senate and for the GOP presidential nomination. Paul dropped out of the presidential race before the caucus.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes estimates 60 percent of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots Tuesday. Grimes said 60 percent would reflect the 2012 presidential election participation, when 59 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In 2008, the turnout was 64 percent.
Grimes said that as of Oct. 31, 47,000 people had cast in-person absentee ballots, up from 37,000 the same time four years ago. The state also issued 39,700 mail-in absentee ballots, of which 26,000 had been returned.
A record 3.3 million Kentuckians are registered to vote in Tuesday’s election. For president, in addition to the Democratic and Republican candidates, Kentucky voters will have 23 registered write-in candidates from which to choose. Elections are also scheduled for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislative seats.
Presidential choices also include the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson; the American Delta Party’s Rocky Roque De La Fuente; the Green Party’s Jill Stein and independent Evan McMullin.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Bowling Green, is seeking another six-year term against Democratic challenger Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. The two recently faced off in a televised debate on KET, the only one of the campaign.
Dropping down to races in the Kentucky General Assembly on the ballot, the 20th District in the state House of Representatives sees incumbent state House Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, put up his 40-year record against Republican challenger Melinda Hill, who is stepping down from the Bowling Green City Commission to run.
Incumbent state Rep. Martha Jane King, D-Lewisburg, faces 16th District challenger Jason Petrie, a Republican; and the 19th District has incumbent state Rep. Michael Lee Meredith, R-Brownville, against Democrat John Wayne Smith. In the 23rd District, Republican Steve Riley faces Democrat Danny J. Basil. The Glasgow men are running after Democrat Johnny Bell decided not to seek re-election.
Bowling Green voters will have 12 candidates to consider in a process to winnow the field to four winners in the contested city commission race.
The three incumbents, Joe Denning, Rick Williams and Sue Parragin, face nine other hopefuls.
Former City Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash wants to return to city office while Dan Rudloff seeks to become a city commissioner after having served as a county magistrate.
Three candidates – Nathan “Nate” Morguelan, Ryan Gene Fulkerson and Andrew Manley – have all campaigned extensively for the city commission to bring a fairness ordinance to the city, among other issues. At the Debate in the District political forum, Nash and candidate Jennifer Morlan also indicated support for a fairness ordinance.
The legislation would prohibit discrimination in areas such as employment and housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity, proponents say.
Other candidates on the city commissioners ballot include Mark Bradford, Matt Stephens and Derek Lee Reeder.
The polls open at 6 a.m. and will remain open until the last person in line at 6 p.m. casts a vote.
— For more information on candidates go to bgdailynews.com.
— Follow business reporter Charles A. Mason on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.
By Charles Mason