Damnedest Politics in Kentucky as 2014 Election Cycle Gears Up

Campaign Signs in the Lawn - Election 2010
Within hours of polls closing on election night 2012, political pundits on television began talk of the 2014 midterms. For a few months, only those monitoring the 24-news cycle gave much pause to the elections a year and a half away.

Now 17 months still separate us from election day and I’m sensing that the political campaigns will soon be going into full swing.

That means it is time to DVR your favorite shows so you can fast forward over all those commercials. Living in central Kentucky, we’ve been rather isolated from all the campaign commercials in recent Presidential cycles when compared to the non-stop advertising in battleground states like Ohio and Florida.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ recent announcement to challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has elevated the race to one of the cycle’s top races in the country. That means we can expect to see a lot of commercials that will do little to inform us about either candidate’s position on the issues.

When Jessamine Countians went to the polls last time, our vote was split into two Congressional districts. Voters in the Second Congressional District returned Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, to Washington while those in the Sixth District replaced incumbent Ben Chandler with Republican Andy Barr.

Challengers are already announcing their candidacies in these races and going out into their respective districts to meet voters.

Democrat Ron Leach of Brandenburg just announced his intention to run against Guthrie. In the Sixth District, a few Democrats have announced their candidacies against Barr. Even more candidates are expected.

I was asked by a friend to walk with one of the Sixth District challengers, Elisabeth Jensen, one evening last week at the county fair. I obliged and watched as she met with voters and handed out stickers and fans, all bearing her name and campaign logo.

It was then I realized that the 2014 midterms are upon us. Like wildflowers, yard signs will soon dot our lawns. And it’s one of those “lots of yard signs” years, too. That’s because we’ll also be voting for state representative, judge executive, magistrates on the fiscal court, sheriff, county clerk, mayor, city commissioners, and all the local races where people we know are asking for our support.

Yes, it’s going to be a long political season, full of all the mudslinging and attack ads that make us just shake our heads.

And while we always like to think of better years gone by, politics have been this way for generations. I always smile at Judge Mulligan’s poem, In Kentucky, first delivered to a group of state legislators in 1902 at Lexington’s Phoenix Hotel. The first and last verse read:
The moonlight falls the softest
In Kentucky;
The summer’s days come oft’est
In Kentucky;
Friendship is the strongest,
Love’s fires glow the longest;
Yet, a wrong is always wrongest
In Kentucky.

Song birds are the sweetest
In Kentucky;
The thoroughbreds the quickest
In Kentucky;
Mountains tower proudest,
Thunder peals the loudest,
The landscape is the grandest—and
Politics the damnedest
In Kentucky.
Yes, politics are the damnedest in Kentucky.

So brace yourselves. It’s going to be a long campaign cycle.

This column originally appeared in the Jessamine Journal
It should not be republished without permission.