LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The field is set for the May primary election and it's going to be a tough fight among Republicans.

For the first time in recent memory, more Republicans than Democrats are running for statewide office.

When Matt Bevin filed for governor late Tuesday afternoon, he joined an already crowded field of Republicans: former Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and ex-Supreme Court justice Will T. Scott.

They all have some level of name recognition and ability to run a strong campaign.

“It will be the most expensive GOP primary in the history of Kentucky, and it will arguably be the most active, and the most energetic, and they are going to go at it starting today,” said political consultant Larry Bisig.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Jack Conway has a clear field in the Democratic primary. His only opponent is little known Lexington engineer Geoff Young.

It means Conway can focus on the fall campaign.

“This allows him to redefine himself before the Republicans have a chance to define him,” said political consultant Bob Gunnell.

But it's not just the primary for governor.

Up and down the ticket, Republican voters will have more options -- with at least two candidates in nearly every race.

In five of six state races, a Democratic favorite is either unopposed or facing little known opposition.

“That's very unusual. Kentuckians are used to a vigorous Democratic primary, no matter where it is statewide, and somewhat of a docile Republican primary. This year, that's upended,” said Bisig.

“I think there's a lot of fear among Democrats about 2015,” said Gunnell, who works primarily with Democrats.

The reason for that fear, according to Gunnell, is the unpopularity in Kentucky of the national Democratic leadership.

“We're a state that doesn't favor Pres. Obama, even on the Democratic side, and I think a lot of people passed on this race,” he said.

Bisig -- whose clients include many Republicans -- agrees.

“The Republicans smell blood in the water. What that means is, they feel like this is going to be a Republican year no matter who the nominee on the Democratic side,” he said.

Both parties face tough questions.

For Republicans, the challenge will be unifying around one candidate after tough primary races.

For Democrats, the question is whether the lack of serious primaries will hurt candidates because they will not have a chance to rehearse and fine-tune their campaigns.

The answer will come in November.

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