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'We are something different': Republicans celebrate Kentucky registration flip as governor decries partisan 'flexing'

Associated Press

Kentucky Republicans made good this week on a long-term goal of overcoming registered Democrats in the state, but the flip in registration wasn't hard to see coming.

It was yet another reminder how far Republicans have come as they've steadily chipped away at Democratic influence in the state. House Speaker David Osborne spoke at an event celebrating the new registration numbers.

"This is about the people of Kentucky standing up and saying we want something different. And not only do we want something different, but we are something different."
House Speaker David Osborne (R)

But the shift was hardly an overnight change of heart. Republicans took over the House in 2016 and the Senate in 2000. The last time the state voted for a Democrat for president was in 1996.

Kentucky's Democratic Governor, Andy Beshear, noted during his Thursday briefing that, even though the plurality shifted toward Republicans, the registration gap remains small.

"I think there's about a 3000-person difference. I think what that says is we need to get along. We shouldn't be out there flexing, talking about who's dominant. We ought to be trying to get along. I'm tired of Team Democrat or Team Republican. I just want to be a part of Team Kentucky."
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear

One other factor to note: Ahead of the May primary, Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams told KET that independents represent the fastest growing segment of the Kentucky electorate. Whether that indicates a growing appetite for compromise or lack of connection with either party remains to be seen.

For now, with Republicans remaining solidly in control of the statehouse, Gov. Beshear is hoping to steer the conversation toward economic growth and budget surpluses as the state heads into a gubernatorial contest next year. He hasn't said yet whether he will attend this year's Fancy Farm.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.