Politics & Government

Beshear: Special House election 'comes down to who turns out' Tuesday

Kentucky House's 56th District candidate Republican Lyen Crews
Kentucky House's 56th District candidate Republican Lyen Crews

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear is predicting a low turnout with high political stakes in Tuesday's special House election in Central Kentucky.

Voters in the 56th House District, which include Woodford County and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties, go to the polls Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to fill a vacancy created when DemocratCarl Rollins of Midway resigned to take a higher education post.

Three candidates — Republican Lyen Crews, independent John-Mark Hack and Democrat James Kay — are vying to fill the remainder of Rollins' term, which runs through the end of next year. All three are from Woodford County.

Democrats and Republicans are eager for a win Tuesday as they prepare to battle for control of the House next year, when all 100 seats are up for election. Democrats now hold a 54-45 majority, with the one vacant seat to be filled Tuesday.

Beshear, speaking at a rally Monday for Kay at Kentucky Democratic Party headquarters, said the hard-fought campaign "comes down to who turns out" Tuesday.

A total of 30,852 district residents are registered to vote in the election, but only 10 percent to 20 percent of registered voters are expected to cast ballots. That means the election could be decided by as few as 3,100 voters.

Many observers expect a close race, given that the three candidates are all well-known in the district and more than $500,000 has been spent by the campaigns and political action committees.

"We all know in these special elections, it's not going to be a huge turnout, and that makes it even more important to remember that every vote counts," said the Democratic governor. "With a smaller turnout, they really count."

At a rally Friday night for Crews at Gaffney Farm in Versailles, state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is thinking about running for governor in 2015, also urged voters to turn out Tuesday.

"We're so close to taking the majority in Frankfort," Comer said. "When we take the majority, this will be a better state."

All three candidates spent Monday knocking on doors and making telephone calls to get out the vote.