Storylines to Watch On Election Day in Kentucky

This year’s elections have been a bit anti-climatic as the Democrats did not field enough candidates to put state House or Senate up for grabs, still, there are interesting storylines to watch that will likely inform and could shift races in the future, including Louisville’s Mayoral election and the U.S. Senate race.

The race for the United States Senate could have implications in the future. Democratic nominee Charles Booker has been running for two years and has raised $8 million. He is among the first to try a different statewide strategy of speaking primarily to the more liberal portion of Democrats, ignoring the middle, and not running television ads. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has run 12 campaign ads this cycle and Booker has not responded on television. Paul is sticking to his bread-and-butter issues of freedom and the economy.

If Booker loses the election many will look at the margins and where his votes come from, to see if he will be a viable candidate in the future. I’ll be curious about what the demographics look like for Booker, and if he has the ability to shift votes away from other Democratic candidates in future races.

Some speculate Booker could become a “poison pill” that seeks to disrupt the next election cycle of Gov. Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky. Booker has had a somewhat contentious relationship with Beshear, according to sources. Earlier this year he threatened to leave the Democratic Party if the incumbent governor did not endorse his candidacy. One thing is clear, after several campaign reboots, if he loses it’s because he failed to make a compelling case to voters.

The Louisville Mayors’ race is interesting as the race tightens in some polling, though what that margin is could be hard to tell as none of the polling is public. Greenberg is definitely in the lead, the question is by how much. The specter of Greg Fischer is probably the largest factor in this race since people in Louisville can’t vote against Fischer will they vote against Greenberg as a proxy? Or will Greenberg rally the highly Democratic city. Republican Bill Dieruf, the Mayor of Jeffersonville, has been trying to stunt Greenberg’s performance with Black voters and has attempted to run as a moderate.

Dieruf’s latest ad attacks Greenberg over debit cards issued to NRA members at a bank where he served on the board. The bank pulled the cards years ago. Dieruf’s campaign did not respond to questions from KFP on whether he supports the NRA, and if that was the correct move from the bank. What does this Republican believe? And do voters in Louisville buy it?

Public files show Greenberg purchased another $45,000 in television in the market through Election Day.

The margins in this race likely will show just how frustrated Louisville is at the moment, and is not indicative of a larger story. If that were the case we’d be talking about the 3rd District Congressional race, between Democrat Morgan McGarvey and Republican Stuart Ray, but there’s not much to say for that race – McGarvey holds a significant lead.

For many smaller communities the major races will be for positions like mayor, magistrate, judge-executive, circuit judge, city council, and school board. There are so many we won’t be able to cover, but these races truly drive the vote. The balance of power in the House and Senate won’t swing but Republicans could add to their super majorities which come with another set of problems – infighting. Some in the GOP are predicting they will hit 82 of 100 members in the House (Republicans currently hold 75 seats to Democrats 25). If Republicans are able to make those pick ups it lead to factions of the GOP that are competing. And with several more outsider candidates winning in the primaries this year it could set up interesting internal leadership elections.

If Democrats in suburban areas like Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson, Rep. Angie Hatton, Sen. Karen Berg, etc hang on in areas redrawn by Republicans, it could provide a bit of a map for Gov. Andy Beshear’s chances next year as he seeks re-election.

There are also a couple of court seats to watch, including the Northern Kentucky Supreme Court and Franklin Co. Circuit Court that are also major battles, and a sign the GOP are seeking to take over Kentucky’s courts after taking over the legislature. 

Here’s my list of races to watch this year: You can catch my analysis of the races on Spectrum News during their live coverage on Tuesday.