Few upsets as Kentuckians nominate candidates for November election

Republished from Kentucky Lantern

Kentucky legislators largely staved off primary challengers, although a few will be out of office, as voters on Tuesday picked candidates for the November election.

Republican Reps. Killian Timoney, of Nicholasville, and Richard Heath, of Mayfield, lost to GOP opponents. Republican Sen. Adriene Southworth, of Lawrenceburg, was defeated as well, according to unofficial results Tuesday night. 

Kentucky voters also decided party nominees for president, Congress and other local races.

Aaron Reed
Aaron Reed

Republicans in the dramatically redrawn 7th Senate District decided they wanted a change in who represented them. Southworth, a former staffer for Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton elected to the Senate in 2021, appears to have been defeated by challenger Aaron Reed although Reed was leading the other Republican, Ed Gallrein, by a little more than 100 votes with 99 percent of the votes counted.

Reed of Shelbyville is a retired Navy SEAL, farmer and has firearm-related businesses. He will face Democrat Rhonda Davis, a retired nurse and business owner, in the general election this fall. 

Adrienne Southworth (LRC Public Information)

Southworth has often been at odds with members of her caucus, either by casting a vote against bills the rest of the Republicans support or by challenging leadership in the chamber. Her corner seat is separate from the rest of the GOP and in the middle of the Democratic senators. The 7th Senate District was also redrawn to exclude most of the voters who had elected Southworth. It now includes Shelby County, part of Jefferson and Southworth’s home of Anderson County. 

Gallrein, of Shelby County and also a former Navy Seal, had the endorsement of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Senate President Robert Stivers donated $2,000 to Gallrein’s campaign. 

Races in the General Assembly

In the Kentucky House, 14 incumbent Republicans faced primary challengers. On Tuesday 12 defeated their opponents, while Heath lost to Kimberly Holloway and Timoney lost to Thomas Jefferson. Five Democratic representatives had primary challengers and all five are heading to the general election.

Kimberly Holloway

In a closely watched primary in Northern Kentucky, Rep. Kim Moser, of Taylor Mill, defeated Karen Campbell, of Independence, in the 64th House District.

Over in the Senate, four Republican senators including Southworth had primary challengers. The remaining three, Sens. Jason Howell, Stephen Meredith and Johnnie Turner, beat their opponents. On the Democratic side, Senate Minority Leader Gerald Neal defeated two primary opponents, one of whom was former state Rep. Attica Scott. 

GOP leadership seeking reelection in the General Assembly did not face any primary challengers. Some but not all will go head to head with Democrats in the fall. House Speaker David Osborne of Prospect and Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester have no opponents in their districts. 

On the Democratic side of leadership seeking reelection, Neal and Senate Minority Whip David Yates of Louisville faced primary opponents Tuesday. 

A sticker showing the correct way to fill out a ballot in Bowling Green. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Austin Anthony)

House Democratic leaders Reps. Derrick Graham, Cherlynn Steveson and Rachel Roberts congratulated primary election winners in an evening statement. 

“With each party’s legislative candidates now known, we look forward to the chance to promote a platform that focuses on building up public education and educators; relies on data-driven and fiscally responsible measures to keep us safe; helps families maintain a roof over their heads and food on the table; and keeps government out of our personal healthcare decisions.” 

The Democratic  leaders also took a swipe at Republicans, saying the majority found “the will to cut taxes on gold but sees nothing wrong in criminalizing homelessness,” referring to a recent exemption on sales and use taxes for currency and bullion sales and House Bill 5, an omnibus tough-on-crime law. 

The Kentucky Democratic Party is also looking ahead. Chairman Colmon Elridge said in a statement that the party is “committed to providing the support our candidates need to win this November, and to help lead Kentucky to a brighter future.” 

“Congratulations to tonight’s primary winners who are leading the charge in fighting for a better Kentucky,” Elridge said. “To our general election candidates, and to those who came up short this evening, we are a better Commonwealth because you have lifted your hands in service. Running for office takes serious determination and we appreciate your commitment to public service.” 

Mom and daughter at the polls at the Michael O. Buchanon Park site in Bowling Green, May 21, 2024. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Austin Anthony)

President and Congress

Heading into Kentucky’s primary, the 2024 presidential race was already unofficially between Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump. 

Biden and Trump handily won their parties’ primaries in Kentucky. The Associated Press called their races around 7 p.m. Eastern. 

Trump won 85% of the Republican vote while 71% of Democrats voted for Biden. Uncommitted came in second among Democrats, winning 18% of the primary vote, according to unofficial returns.

Last week, Trump was on the ground in Kentucky at a fundraiser in Lexington during a break in his New York trial where he is accused of paying money to cover-up an extra-marital affair. He won Kentucky’s eight electoral votes in 2016 and 2020. 

Trump also gave some endorsements on his social media site, Truth Social, to some of Kentucky’s incumbent Republican congressional members. They were Reps. Hal Rogers, Andy Barr, Brett Guthrie and James Comer. The latter is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which is investigating the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the current president’s son. 

Barr, Guthrie and Comer did not have primary challengers, but will face Democrats in the fall.

Rogers, Republican Rep. Thomas Massie and Democratic Rep. Morgan McGarvey won their primaries Tuesday. McGarvey will face a challenger in the fall. Rogers and Massie aren’t being challenged by Democrats. 

Massie, who recently joined Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in a failed attempt to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, said in a statement Tuesday night that his reelection was “a referendum on thousands of independent votes I have cast in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Kentucky’s 4th District.” 

Julia Turner of Bowling Green waves to drivers holding a sign for a local candidate in Bowling Green on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Austin Anthony)

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