State drops presidential primary

Quietly and with little controversy, Kentucky has become the first state to abolish its presidential primary.

And judging by the reaction in political circles here - or more precisely the lack of it - the presidential sweepstakes won't even be missed, Monitor contributor Richard L. Walker writes.

It was during the heyday of party reform in 1972 that the Kentucky General Assembly added a presidential ballot to the state's primary. But it never received the attention its sponsors hoped for. This was not surprising, since five other states also chose the fourth Tuesday in May for their presidential primaries.

''The way it was set up here, the primary didn't have much impact,'' observes Dorothy S. Ridings, editor of a Louisville business journal, who doubles as national president of the League of Women Voters.

''Kentucky's primary was so late it was not meaningful,'' she added. ''In fact, it was originally set up to attract campaign spending to Kentucky, and the size of the state and the late date were never conducive to that.''

Party officials indicate that with the abolition of the presidential primary, the old caucus or convention used to choose national delegates would be the battleground for contending presidential aspirants in 1984, just as it was before the primary made its brief appearance.

Ironically, the abolition of the Kentucky presidential primary had nothing to do with presidential politics. The postponing of the regular state primary from May to late August was inspired instead by Kentucky legislators' wish to allow themselves more campaigning time after their General Assembly session ended in mid-April.

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