|Nickname||The Bluegrass State|
|Governor||Steve Beshear, D|
|Senator||Mitch McConnell, R |
|Senator||Rand Paul, R |
|Ratification of Constitution/or statehood||June 1, 1792 (15th)|
Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, entered the Union in 1792, making it the fifteenth state. Kentucky's capital is Frankfort, and the largest city is Louisville, with a Metro population surpassing 1,000,000. Kentucky is famous for many things, including the Kentucky Derby, bourbon, Kentucky Fried Chicken, coal, bluegrass music, boxing great Muhammad Ali, and the basketball program at the University of Kentucky.
Kentucky was founded as a county of the state of Virginia in 1776. Kentucky County was divided into three counties in 1780, and the three became a state in their own right in 1792. Kentucky was the fifteenth state to enter the Union, after Vermont the previous year. During the Civil War, Kentucky's government remained loyal to the Union, though a Confederate government based itself in Bowling Green, in the south of the state. The state was invaded in September 1861, and its capital, Frankfort, was captured by Confederate forces in 1862, the only Union capital to fall into Confederate hands during the war.
Kentucky is best-known for its men's college basketball teams, most notably the University of Kentucky Wildcats and University of Louisville Cardinals. The University of Kentucky (UK) traditionally has been the dominant of the two, having won seven NCAA titles. According to Sagarin ratings, the 1996 UK team is the highest-ranked college basketball team in NCAA history. Many UK basketball players have gone on to play in the NBA. The UK basketball team has recently lost its dominance, and the in-state rivalry between the two universities has become less one-sided.
Football has become increasingly associated with Kentucky as well, due to the University of Louisville's team's growth under the coaching of Bobby Petrino. In 2007, the Cardinals competed in and won at the Orange Bowl. During the 2007 football season, the University of Kentucky has been extremely successful compared to the past, having beaten several ranked teams, including Louisville and #1 (at the time) LSU.
Kentucky is generally considered a conservative state. Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are their U.S. Senators. Senator McConnell is Minority Leader of the Senate. McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, was United States Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush. However, Democrat Steve Beshear is the current Governor. Since World War II, Kentucky has elected only two Republican governors, Louie B. Nunn, the chief executive from 1967 to 1971, and Ernie Fletcher, who served from 2003 to 2007, until he was unseated by Beshear. Beshear handily won reelection in 2011 over the challenged waged by the Republican State Senate President David L. Williams.
Kentucky is allowed to seat six representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives, and these seats are held by Republicans Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie, Geoff Davis, and Hal Rogers, and Democrats John Yarmuth and Ben Chandler, a grandson of the late baseball commissioner and Democratic Governor Happy Chandler.
The Kentucky State Senate has 22 Republicans, 15 Democrats, and one Independent. The Kentucky House, however, has 59 Democrats and 41 Republicans.
- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R)
- Sen. Rand Paul (R)
- Rep. Ed Whitfield [R, KY-01]
- Rep. Brett Guthrie [R, KY-02]
- Rep. John Yarmuth [D, KY-03]
- Rep. Geoff Davis [R, KY-04]
- Rep. Hal Rogers [R, KY-05]
- Rep. Ben Chandler [D, KY-06]
- Governor Steve Beshear (D)
- Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson (D)
- Attorney General Jack Conway (D)
- Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D)
- Agriculture Commissioner James R. Comer (R)
- State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach (D)
Kentucky borders several other states: to the north Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, to the south Tennessee, to the east Virginia and West Virginia, and to the west Missouri. The Ohio River makes up the northern border of Kentucky.