Senate Republicans to Engage in Berg / Peden Race

Republicans in the state Senate say they have a shot to take a Democratic seat in Louisville this fall and increase their majority.

New polling suggests state Sen. Karen Berg, D-Louisville, is vulnerable this election cycle to Republican Louisville councilman James Peden.

“We did a poll and surprisingly it came back where it looks like it could be pretty competitive,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer.

Berg, a physician and professor, holds a lead in the polling conducted by Senate Republicans, but Thayer says the race is close to the margin of error – which could be as few as three percentage points.

The Democratic state Senator won a special election in June of 2020 to represent the 26th Senate District and Republicans have shifted the district in the redistricting process, which could lead to a lack of name id for Berg in the district.

James Peden, who is challenging Berg for the seat, has served in the Louisville city council since 2003. Polling shows that respondents like that he has “pushed back” against Mayor Greg Fischer on tax increases, and he stands up for the police.

“One thing we found in polling in Louisville, in particular, and statewide in general, is the increase level of crime is really at the top of voter’s minds and is a big concern,” Thayer said.

Thayer said he expects Senate leadership will engage in the race with a fundraiser for Peden, and if things stay on track they could open up their campaign funds and help Peden closer to election day.

“I admit to being surprised,” Thayer said of the polling. “It came back better than we thought.”

With redistricting, retirements, and the possibility of the pick-up in Louisville, Republicans could hold as many as 32 of the 38 Kentucky Senate seats after the November election.