Religion Could Play Silent Role in Gubernatorial Race

Candidates in the 2011 Kentucky gubernatorial race all agree religion shouldn’t play a role in the campaign, but that doesn’t mean former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson’s Jewish heritage won’t be an issue in rural parts of the commonwealth.

With Kentucky’s Jewish population less than one percent, anti-Semitic sentiments in the state have been whispered behind the scenes as a potential handicap for the lieutenant governor candidate, who is running with Democratic Governor Steve Beshear in the fall election.

And while political optimists are downplaying religion as a factor, a former GOP gubernatorial candidate said to hell with the dog whistles.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Lexington attorney Larry Forgy, a Republican who lost the 1995 governor’s race against Democrat Paul Patton, said the only reason Beshear picked Abramson to be his running mate was “to attract New York and Hollywood Jewish money” for the campaign.

“There’s no other reason why to pick a big-city, liberal mayor to run for lieutenant governor in a rural, conservative state like this,” Forgy said.

The comments were quickly slammed as “bigoted” and “offensive”, and Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams has said it is inappropriate to campaign against someones religion. It’s hard to tell how or if Abramson’s Jewish heritage will play among voters, but Forgy’s beliefs aren’t completely his own.