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Election 2012: Presidential race leaves gap atop primary ballot

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Republicans hope for good turnout for congressional race

By Todd Martin

When Kentucky’s primary election rolls around on Tuesday, many of you may wonder if there’s any reason to go vote at all.

With 38 states having already held their primary elections, Kentucky is largely left out of the presidential discussion.

Of the four Republicans on the presidential ballot in Kentucky, even a vote for front-runner Mitt Romney won’t mean much.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have pulled out of the race for the Republican nomination, and Ron Paul announced Monday that he is effectively suspending his campaign.

Although he said he will continue to speak and collect delegates for the Republican National Convention, which will be in Tampa on Aug. 27-30, Paul said he will not spend any more money while he continues to campaign, admitting that Romney basically has an insurmountable lead.

Shelby County Clerk Sue Carole Perry said that many times, in national elections, when candidates withdraw from elections they may not follow the exact protocol for the states remaining.

“The state didn’t send us anything on [on Gingrich or Santorum] withdrawing,” she said. “Usually when a candidate in a statewide election withdraws, they notify us so even if they do get votes, we don’t count them.”

Perry said she expects a “very, very, very” low turnout on Tuesday, and she chalks that up to Kentucky’s late primary date.

“For some time now that people in Kentucky feel like their vote doesn’t really matter [in the presidential primary],” she said. “That’s why they [candidates] never campaign here for the primary.”

Shelby County Republican Party Chair Jennifer Decker said she doesn’t really know how Kentucky’s Republicans feel about their primary being so late that it rarely, if ever, matters, but she does encourage Republicans to turn out and vote, exercising their right of choice.

“We’re so late in the process that maybe people don’t really feel like their vote counts as much in the presidential race as it definitely does in the congressional race,” she said. “We have a lot of strong supporters for the congressional races.”

Decker, who also is the field representative in this area for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, said that historically the turnout for this primary election would be very low, but with such a wide variety of choices for the 4th Congressional District, she thinks this year could buck that trend.

“That could make this year different,” she said. “Voters, especially Republicans, like to have a primary, they like to have choices in their candidates.

“Once we started having more candidates and more primaries, that’s when more and more people started registering as Republicans.”

There are seven Republican and two Democratic candidates running for the 4th District seat being vacated by 4-term Republican Geoff Davis.

Perry said that the congressional race could be the one thing that gets voters to turn out. Shelby County had been in the 2nd District until the 2010 Census required new districts be drawn.

Perry said in talking with some Republicans, she has heard that there are three groups that are very passionate about their candidates.

“That could be the only thing that gets people out for this race,” she said. “That, and the percentage of Republicans that votes is always higher.”