Politics
12:00 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

It's Primary Election Day in Kentucky: Here Are State Legislature Primaries to Watch

Kentucky's primary election is Tuesday, May 20.

With an expected 30 percent (or less) voter turnout in Tuesday's primary elections, about 930,000 Kentuckians will take to the polls to determine which candidates will appear on the ballot during this fall's general election.

Kentucky political observers will be looking to see what impact the election's outcome will have on the Kentucky Democratic Party's bid to retain control of the state House against a Republican challenge.

With 23 seats contested in the House, here's a quick look at some of the races that will add clarity to that question:

District 10. Western Kentucky state Rep. Ben Waide, a Republican, has announced he'll be seeking Hopkins County judge-executive post, leaving the field wide open to three Republicans and a lone Democrat vying for a chance to replace him. Waide replaced longtime Democratic incumbent Eddie Ballard in 2010, besting Democratic opponent Michael Duncan by 1,596 votes. Democrats will be eager to win this seat back despite its newfound Republican leanings.

District 13. Incumbent Democrat state Rep. Jim Glenn has held the seat since 2007. But each year he has won re-election, his margin of victory has dwindled. Sensing weakness, Democratic challenger J.D. Warfield will attempt to provide fresh blood to a race in a district that appears just narrowly Democratic-leaning. The winner of that race will square off against Owensboro financial services consultant J. Alan Braden, a Republican, in the fall.

District 25. State Rep. Jimmie Lee, an incumbent Democrat, has held the District 25 seat for more than 20 years. He is being challenged by Glenn Fonda, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2012, garnering just under 4 percent of the vote against Lee's 77 percent—albeit via a three-way primary battle. If past is prologue, Lee may be able easily trump Fonda, but his margin of victory could provide a preview to his battle against Jim DuPlessis, a chemical engineer running unopposed as a Republican, this fall. 

District 26. Two Republicans will engage in electoral combat to determine who will replace state Rep. Tim Moore, an incumbent Republican who's held the seat since 2006. Because of redistricting, Moore is running in the 18th against Republican challenger Stephen Meredith, and incumbent GOP state Rep. Russell Webber, previously of the 49th District, was drawn in. Webber will face Republican challenger Alex Wimsatt, with the winner taking on Democratic opponent J. Scott Wantland, a Bullitt County lawyer, in the fall.

District 32. One of the most-talked about races this season, the GOP primary in Louisville's 32nd is being viewed as a possible bellwether for the political direction that state Republicans might take in the future, as Tea Party challenger and former gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett will face establishment pick Shellie May, a former chairwoman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. The seat is being vacated by incumbent GOP Rep. Julie Raque Adams, who is running for the 36th Senate District to replace outgoing Sen. Julie Denton, a Republican seeking a spot on Louisville's Metro Council.

District 49. As aforementioned, state Rep. Russell Webber has been redistricted into a fight for the 26th, creating a vacuum in his old district wherein Democratic challengers Jonathan Cacciatore and Linda Belcher will square off. Belcher likely has the edge in both name recognition and experience, having served in the seat from 2009 to 2013. The winner will face Republican Michael Nemes in November.

District 53. Three Democrats will vie for the chance to fill incumbent Republican state Rep. Bart Rowland's seat. (Rowland is running in the 21st due to redistricting.) Democrats Donna Drury, Stewart Gritton and Kent Stevens will face off, with the winner running against Republican James Tipton.

District 74. An incumbent since 2006, Democrat Richard Henderson recently stepped into hot water over his attendance (and later quasi-mea culpa) at a cockfighting rally. He's running unopposed in the primary, so the effect (if any) the scandal may have on his reelection chances won't be known until November. In the meantime, Republicans David Hale and Woody Wells will face on another in the primary.

District 89. Longtime incumbent Republican state Rep. Mary Rader is fending off a primary attack from two challengers. GOP candidates Gerardo Serrano and Michael Bryant will contend with Rader, and the winner will face Democrat Joey Jayson Taylor II in the general election.

District 93. The ethical foibles of incumbent Democrat state Rep. Keith Hall have been the centerpiece in the campaign of Democratic challenger Chris Harris, a Pike County magistrate, who is seeking to unseat Hall. The outcome of this race could portend the mood of voters toward various ethics scandals that have embroiled Democratic lawmakers in the past year.