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One third of Kentucky state legislative races uncontested

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April 30, 2012

Frankfort, Kentucky: This year, 45 Kentucky lawmakers will face no opposition in their 2012 re-election bids. Another 38 will not be challenged in the primary.[1]

This year, all 100 Kentucky House of Representatives seats are up for re-election, along with 19 seats in the Kentucky Senate. Out of the 119 total Kentucky General Assembly seats up for a vote this year, only 36 will see a contest in the May 22 primary -- 28 in the House and 8 in the Senate.[1]

This reluctance to challenge incumbents is not unique this year; Kentucky has seen even lower rates of opposition in previous elections.[2]

Commentators offer several explanations for the large number of unchallenged races. Laurie Rhodebeck, a University of Louisville political scientist, suggests that Kentuckians have "given up" hope of changing things on the state level, and says bitter fights in the Kentucky General Assembly also may have discouraged potential candidates.[2] Democratic strategist Dale Emmons adds that many are deterred by the high cost of running, both in terms of time and in terms of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a campaign.[2]

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