FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky Republicans are celebrating as the number of registered republicans surpasses the number of registered Democrats in the state for the first time. The office of Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams announced Friday morning that Republicans had taken less than a 3,000 vote lead.
“I think we were always Republican, or we were for 30 or 40 years, but just didn’t know it,” Adams, who is a Republican, said. The state turning red was inevitable, he added.
He recalls how when he was growing up Democrats had a 40-point lead. Over time, that lead has faded away. “It’s a really special day,” he said.
Republicans worked hard to make this happen, including Adams, he said. Both Republicans and Democrats represent about 45% of total Kentucky voters, respectively. For Republicans, it’s a plurality, not a majority, Adams said.
Governor Andy Beshear, who has for years been outnumbered by Republicans at the Capitol, pointed out how small the Republican lead is in an interview with LEX18 Friday.
“My reaction isn’t a political reaction, it’s a human reaction,” Beshear said. “We’ve got 1.6 million registered democrats, 1.6 million registered Republicans, about (A) three thousand difference. What it means, is we got to get along, just as people, we’ve got to get along, and we’ve got to stop to try and fight to move the state right or left, but to just move it forward.”
The focus should be on things that truly impact people’s lives, Beshear said, using good jobs, education, and healthcare as examples.
“The people out there just want results, and that’s what we’re trying to give them,” Beshear said.
When asked if he feels more isolated as a Democrat, Beshear reiterated there are about 1.6 million members of each party and when he goes around the state he does not ask if people are a Democrat or a Republican. As for if he is concerned the news will hurt his electoral chances when he runs for reelection, Beshear said the election will come down to record-setting job creation.
“I respect Beshear,” Adams said. “I work well with him, but the fact is all the leadership on policy is coming from the Republicans.”
Adams says both sides will now try to win over the 10% of registered voters not with either party.
“It’s a very narrow advantage,” Adams said. “Elections will still be decided by who turns out voters and who reaches across the aisle.”
Adams said the delay in the change happening was attributed to its lower voter registration access and the number of dead voters on the rolls, two issues they have worked to rectify. In total, he said there were 120,000 dead voters on the rolls.
Adams couldn't provide the specific number of dead voters taken off the rolls that made a difference here, saying his office does not track that but said it certainly had to be a factor.