FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Republican Party, already dominant in electing candidates, has achieved another long-sought goal, overtaking the Democratic Party in statewide voter registration.
The Kentucky State Board of Elections announced Friday that the number of registered Republican voters stands at 1,612,060, compared with 1,609,569 registered Democrats.
“After a century and a half, the birthplace of Lincoln has finally aligned with the party of Lincoln," Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams said.
U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, regarded as the main architect of the GOP's rise in Kentucky, said his party's voter registration supremacy in his home state was “a day I never thought would happen.” McConnell attributed his party's achievement to decades of “hard work and grassroots efforts,” adding that "it’s just the beginning.”
When McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984, the state had 1.3 million registered Democrats and 525,060 Republicans. Republicans have narrowed the gap for years.
Republicans hold Kentucky's two U.S. Senate seats, five of six congressional seats, supermajorities in the legislature and most of the statewide constitutional offices.
But the state's top political job — the governorship — is held by Democrat Andy Beshear. Recent polling showed the governor receiving high job-performance ratings, but Beshear faces a tough reelection fight as the state trends Republican.