FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) — Kentucky has a record number of candidates filed for the state’s May primary election.

A total of 694 candidates filed for the May primary election, removing some candidates that have since withdrawn. Secretary of State Michael Adams said this is the highest number of candidates he’s seen in modern times.

“Whether you’re the Democratic governor or the Republican secretary of state, or anybody, even a school board member, it’s a very challenging time to be in public office,” Adams told FOX 56. Despite the challenge, Adams said it is bringing out more participation in politics.

“The climate I think is actually contributing to public interest, people who don’t think of themselves as politicians are inspired to be active and to join,” Adams said.

A large number of candidates also comes with the timing. A midterm year means more races are on the ballot.

“You got congress every two years, you got State House every two years, you got half the senate every two years, but this is a much bigger election year because of all the judgeships,” Adams explained.

But what’s also significant, is who’s challenging who. Several races did not have a Democratic challenger file to run, leaving some to be a battle between Republicans or virtually no contest.

“I believe there’s 43 State House races where there’s no Democrat filed. That’s astounding that this was a majority party in the State House 6 years ago and they’ve fallen this far,” political analyst Tres Watson said.  

Watson said he believes the large influx of candidates is also tied to a change in political identities across many of Kentucky’s communities.

“Party registration was overwhelmingly Democrat and you were told when you went to register to vote you have to be a Democrat if you want to vote for county judge executive, you’ve got to be a Democrat, that’s changed,” Watson said.

Both Adams and Watson agree the lower number of Democratic candidates may come back to the language from the party surrounding redistricting.

“The Democratic party spent so much time attacking the maps as unfair and hostile to their candidates before the filing deadline, it may have hurt their recruitment of candidates,” Adams said.

Because of this Adams said it is possible there will be more turnout for the primary elections, which are set for May 17.