A Kentucky lawmaker resumed his long-running effort to shift elections for governor and other statewide offices to coincide with presidential elections, winning approval from a Senate panel on Wednesday.
Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel says Kentucky’s constitution should be amended to end the tradition of holding elections for governor and other state constitutional offices in odd-numbered years. His proposal would switch those contests to presidential election years, starting in 2032.
Doing so would boost turnout for elections for governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and agriculture commissioner since more Kentuckians vote in presidential elections, McDaniel said. It would save millions of dollars in election costs, he said.
And it would spare Kentucky voters from the fatigue of having elections three out of every four years, as is now the case, he said. If ratified, his proposal would give Kentuckians more time off from campaigns.
“If you ask them, would you enjoy a year free from political ads interrupting the Kentucky basketball game, Monday night football, or whatever program they’re trying to enjoy during their time off and, most importantly, during your time with your families, I think this constitutional amendment would probably pass pretty soundly,” McDaniel said.
The measure easily cleared the Senate State and Local Government Committee and advances to the full Senate. If the proposal passes the Senate and House, it would be placed on the November ballot this year for Kentucky voters to decide whether to end odd-year elections for state constitutional offices. Republicans have supermajorities in both legislative chambers.
If voters approve the change, the state would still have one more round of statewide elections in 2027. Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, both Democrats, won reelection last year while Republicans won the other constitutional offices. This year, Kentucky’s elections include contests for president, Congress and the legislature before voters get a break from elections in 2025.
Democratic Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong opposed the bill, saying state issues would be overshadowed by national concerns if elections for statewide offices coincided with presidential contests.
“I think it’s really important that the people of Kentucky have space to focus on Kentucky issues and issues that impact us here in the commonwealth,” she said.
Republican Sen. Damon Thayer made a counterargument in supporting the bill, predicting interest in state issues would rise if campaigns for statewide offices coincided with presidential elections.
“What better way to get them focused on state issues than put the races in a year where they are already interested and already coming to vote,” said Thayer, the Senate’s majority floor leader.
Terms for governor and the other statewide offices would remain four years, though candidates elected to those offices in 2027 would get an extra year added to their terms if the proposal wins ratification. That would be necessary to bring those elections in line with the presidential election in 2032.
McDaniel has pushed for the constitutional change for a decade. His proposals passed the Senate in the past but died in the House.
“There is no time limit on a good idea,” McDaniel quipped in presenting the bill Wednesday.
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