Storylines to Watch During Today’s Primary Elections

Kentuckians have been making their way to the polls this primary election day in Kentucky. While the top of the ticket is a sleeper U.S. Senate race there are some interesting storylines to follow this Tuesday.

  • Anti-Incumbent Republican Challengers: In Northern Kentucky House races and in areas across the state Republican challengers have been running against incumbent lawmakers. There is not a consistent message from the candidates running in these races outside of general frustration with elected politicians. I’ll be watching to see the margins and how deep the anti-incumbent sentiment is around Kentucky. Top Races to watch in this subset include: Rep. Samara Heavrin, R-Leitchfield, against Jacob Clark in the 18th Dist. House GOP primary. The sister of Sen. Adrienne Southworth, Courtney Gilbert, of Hodgenville, is trying to unseat Rep. Brandon Reed in the 24th Dist. House GOP primary. Rep. Kim King is defending her right flank in the 55th District House Primary. Reps Sal Santoro, Ed Massey, and Adam Koenig are all defending their seats this season in Northern KY.
  • Will GOP Redistricting Cost an Incumbent? In the 22nd Senate District Sen. Donald Douglas is attempting to fend off his first challenger since entering office just months ago in a special election. Andrew Cooperrider was seeking to run for the state Senate in the 12th District before GOP lawmakers redrew the maps for their favored candidate in the open seat race. Douglas has support from establishment Republicans, but he does not yet benefit from his short stint with incumbency. The race is reportedly neck-and-neck, and has turned ugly of late. Cooperrider is a coffee-shop owner that refused to close for in-person dining early in the pandemic, and has prominence on the Trump-portion of the GOP as he attempted to impeach Gov. Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky.
  • 50 Year Incumbent: At nearly 91 years old can Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, successfully defend a seat he has held since the 1970s? The longest-serving House member in the history of the Kentucky General Assembly again faces a primary challenge in this Louisville district. Burch was first elected to a single term in 1972 serving until 1975 and then returning to Frankfort in 1979 where he has comfortably stayed since that time. Burch faces Daniel Grossberg, who ran against him in 2020. There has been controversy surrounding mailers that some have claimed are anti-Semitic that have creeped up in the last week. Neal Turpin is also in the race. He could potentially split an anti-Burch vote, but this race was too close to call heading into Tuesday’s election.
  • Louisville Mayoral Race, Democratic Primary: There are about 160,000 more Democrats than Republicans in Louisville, meaning whoever makes their way through the Democratic primary today will likely be the next mayor of Louisville. Craig Greenberg enters primary day with a heavy fundraising advantage.
  • 4th District Republican Congressional Primary: U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie is generally the furthest to the right, but this primary season Claire Wirth from Oldham County has been trying to out Conservative the incumbent. Massie has been endorsed by Trump and holds a healthy funding advantage, but it will be a major test of his staying power in the region.