Kentucky Political News Headlines

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

KY Election Results

Below is a summary of the results, as of this evening. It is important to note that due to the additional absentee balloting procedures put in place for this election, official results may be delayed for several days. So the results we are sharing are based on unofficial results available as of this writing.


KY Election Results


Republicans had overwhelming victories this evening in Kentucky. President Trump carried the state and US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell easily defeated challenger Amy McGrath. Republicans also had a big night in state legislative races reaching a record number in the House and Senate Majorities.  Support at the top of the ticket clearly carried down the ballot and impacted state legislative races. 


State Senate 19 of the 38 seats were up this cycle - New Margin: 30-8 in favor of GOP. Senate Republicans appear to have picked up 2 seats as of this writing. The Turner vs Turner battle has Democrat incumbent and member of the minority leadership team, Sen. Johnny Ray Turner down 2000 votes with 96% of the vote counted.


GOP Flips

District 7 - Southworth (Open-Carroll)

District 29 - Johnnie Turner (R) leads Johnny Ray Turner (D - incumbent)*


Other New Faces

District 1 - Howell (R-Murray from Humphries)

District 21 - Storm (R-London from Robinson)

District 26 - Berg (D-Oldham from Harris in special election in June)

District 37 - Yates (D-Louisville from P.Clark)


State House - All 100 members were up this cycle - New Margin: Appears to be 75-25 in favor of GOP, but one race has incomplete results, so it could be as low as 74-26. Regardless, a big night for the House Republicans picking up 12 or 13 seats. It will be a big Freshman class with possibly 22 new members. 


Incomplete Results

District 10 - Calloway(R) leads incumbent Schamore (D) by nearly 1000 votes with 94% of votes counted


GOP flips

District 11 - Dixon (Wiederstein)

District 13 - Johnson (Glenn)

District 22 - McPherson (Open-Stone)

District 39 - Lockett (Open-Meyer)

District 47 - Rabourn (Open-Rand)

District 48 - Fleming (Sorolis) 

District 56 - Fister - (Open-Graviss)

District 70 - Lawrence - (Open-Sims)

District 91 - Wesley - (Open-Howard)

District 93 - Kirk-McCormick (Open-Harris)

District 96 - Flannery (Hinkle)

District 100 - Sharp - (Clark)


Other New Faces

District 5 - Imes (R-Murray Open-Elkins)

District 43 - Stevenson (D-Louisville Open Booker)

District 45 - Timoney - (R-Lexington Open Lee)

District 58 - Decker (R-Shelbyville Open Rothenburger)

District 71 - Bray (R-Mt.Vernon from Travis), 

District 73 - Dotson (R-Winchester from Yates)

District 83 - Branscum (R-Jamestown from Hoover)

District 85 - Baker (R-Somerset from Turner)

District 86 - Smith (R-Corbin from Stewart)


Congressional Races

In addition to Senator McConnell winning his 7th term in the U.S. Senate, all of Kentucky's incumbent U.S. House members were victorious.


1st District  - Comer defeats Rhodes

2nd District - Guthrie defeats Linderman

3rd District - Yarmuth defeats Palazzo

4th District - Massie defeats Owensby

5th District - Rogers defeats Best

6th District - Barr defeats Hicks


State Supreme Court

There was one Supreme Court seat up for election in the 7th District in the Eastern part of the state. The incumbent was defeated in the primary, having come in 3rd in a three way race. Tonight Greenup County Circuit Judge Robert Conley appears to have defeated former State Rep. Chris Harris by a 55-45 vote margin with 93% of the votes counted.


Constitutional Amendments

There were two proposed amendments to Kentucky's Constitution on the ballot.


Constitutional Amendment #1 - Marsy's Law, which passed two years ago but was struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court due to vague ballot language has been passed by the voters of Kentucky for the second time, following this evening's results.


Constitutional Amendment #2 - A ballot initiative to increase office terms for Kentucky's district judges as well as increase years of experience required for those judicial positions. Constitutional Amendment #2 was not approved by voters and failed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

KY Primary Election Results

Primary Election Results

Results from last Tuesday's primary election were released this afternoon. You will recall that results were delayed due to the decision to allow mail-in ballots, which were required to be postmarked by election day, because of precautions against COVID-19.

U.S. Senate
The Democratic primary for US Senate came down to the wire with Amy McGrath pulling out a victory over Rep. Charles Booker with 45.1% compared to Booker's 43%.  McGrath will face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November.

State Legislative Elections
Additionally, there were a handful of close legislative races with unknown outcomes until final vote counts were submitted to the Board of Elections this afternoon. Several incumbent legislators were defeated and for the first time in roughly 10 years a Democrat won a seat which had been held by a Republican in the state Senate. Karen Berg defeated Bill Ferko in the special election called to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Ernie Harris. Other state legislative results of interest:

Incumbents Beaten in Primary

- Sen. Albert Robinson was beaten by Brandon Storm, an attorney from London, in a three way race. Storm faces Walter Trebolo in November.

- Rep. Travis Brenda lost by less than 100 votes to Josh Bray, a City Administrator. Bray has no opponent in November.

- Rep. Les Yates was beaten by Ryan Dotson, a local pastor in the GOP primary. Dotson faces Kenny Blair who won the Democrat primary.

New State Legislators & Re-Elected Legislators
These folks were elected to new terms in the General Assembly joining the 28 legislators unopposed this election cycle that don't have a general election opponent in November. *Incumbents in Italics

Karen Berg
Rick Girdler
David Yates

Steven Rudy
Josh Branscum
Nima Kulkarni
Charlie Miller
Tom Burch

Pamela Stevenson
David Osborne
Ken Upchurch

Josh Bray
Regina Huff
Shane Baker
Tom Smith

Supreme Court
Incumbent Justice Sam Wright won't be returning to the Supreme Court in 2021, as he ran third in the primary for the 7th District Supreme Court seat, and only the top two vote getters move on to the general election in November. It will be Robert Conley vs Chris Harris in November.

Attached is an updated spreadsheet denoting House and Senate primary winners. More analysis to come in the days ahead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

KY Primary Election Results

Historic, Incomplete and Inconclusive

Today will be marked in the history books as one of Kentucky's oddest primary elections. The primary was held after being moved from the original May date, in response to concerns related to COVID-19 and spurred further - and also historic - changes to Kentucky's voting process. Voters were allowed and encouraged to vote via mail-in ballots which it appears many chose to do. In-person voting was available in all 120 counties today, but the number of polling locations was significantly limited including only one polling location for Jefferson and Fayette counties. 

The most significant impact of these historic changes is that it will slow the tabulation of votes and delay official results until June 30th.  

Some county clerks did report results this evening from today's in-person voting, however not from all counties including Jefferson County. With so many voters using mail-in voting these results are unofficial and very preliminary. Here's what we think we know so far:

- It's reported that there's been historic voter turnout. Secretary of State Michael Adams estimated this evening that 1.1 million Kentuckians cast a vote which is roughly 32%, breaking the 2008 record for highest voter turnout in a primary election.

- The United State Senate Democratic primary became the race to watch as Charles Booker gained tremendous momentum the past several weeks over once-assumed front runner, Amy McGrath. Based on results from today's in-person voting as of this writing McGrath has a (45-36 margin). The winner takes on US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. McConnell appears to be easily defeating his primary challenge with more than 80% of the in-person votes as of this writing.

- State House: There were 28 contested primary races with 11 incumbents facing a primary challenge. The highlight here is that three incumbents are trailing in their primaries based on today's in-person votes. Those incumbents trailing after in-person voting are: McCoy (R), Yates (R), and Brenda (R). 

- State Senate: There were 6 contested races with 2 incumbents facing a challenge. Additionally, a special election was held to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Ernie Harris following the legislative session. The highlight here is that Republican Bill Ferko has a large lead (79-21) over Democrat Karen Berg based on today's in-person voting results in the special election to replace Ernie Harris. It is important to note that no Jefferson County in-person votes in this race were reported as of this writing.

- State Supreme Court: Incumbent Sam Wright is running to keep his 7th district seat. The race is nonpartisan with the two top vote getters moving on to November. Retiring State Rep. Chris Harris is also running for this seat. Based on today's in-person voting both Harris and Wright trail Robert Conley who has 45% of the in-person votes reported in roughly 50% of the precincts as of this writing.

We will update you as more information is available with official results expected next week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Budget Update - CFG Meeting

Budget Update - CFG Meeting

The Consensus Forecasting Group (CFG) met this afternoon to revise the official revenue estimate for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The group of nonpartisan economists were asked to revise the estimates in today's special meeting due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on state revenues. It is highly unusual for the CFG to meet outside of what state law requires and the group can only provide revised official estimates at the request of the Legislative Research Commission or the Office of the State Budget Director.

The CFG members were presented with two scenarios - control and pessimistic models. Both the control and pessimistic forecasts assume that the pandemic peaks in the fourth quarter of FY20 and also assumes an identical fiscal and monetary policy response. 

After several hours of discussion and debate, the CFG chose to adopt the pessimistic forecasts for both the General Fund and Road Fund. Under these revisions, the General Fund is estimated to be 4% below the official enacted budget, while the Road Fund shortfall will be 10.4% based on today's actions. 
The 4% shortfall in the General Fund reflects a decrease of $456.7 Million and the 10.4% shortfall in the Road Fund reflects $161.8 Million less than expected.

Kentucky law allows the Governor to implement budget reduction orders for shortfalls less than 5%. For shortfalls over that, legislative action is required. With these new official estimates, the Governor will be able to adjust spending in the General Fund. It has been reported that state agencies have already been asked to provide information on the impacts of a 12.5% cut to close out the fiscal year June 30. The Road Fund, however, will require legislative action which could trigger a special session. We will update you as additional information is made available.

Documents from today's meeting can be accessed HERE.

Today's actions only impact the remaining days of FY 20, which will end on June 30th. It is likely that revisions to FY 21 will also be needed, but at this time that request has not been issued. 

2020 Election Preview

2020 Election Preview

Legislative elections take place this year, with all 100 House seats and half (19) of Senate seats up for re-election in November. The COVID-19 pandemic has required many changes, including how and when Kentuckians will cast their vote in the primary election. Originally scheduled for May 19, the primary election will now be held on June 23. Given the primary is just over a month away we wanted to provide a preview of the races and some additional dynamics impacting them. We have prepared this multi-tabbed spreadsheet, which is also attached, based on records from the Secretary of State's office as of May 13, which provides a listing of the candidate filings for the primary and general elections.  

- The Senate is controlled by GOP 28-9 with 1 vacancy (Sen. Harris) heading into this election cycle.
- The Senate spreadsheet shows that of 19 Senate seats up for election in November, 5 are uncontested (3 Dem & 2 GOP). Of the remaining 14 contested seats they are currently controlled (4 Dem & 10 GOP). 
- 3 GOP incumbents face Libertarian party candidates (Meredith, Westerfield, and West) and Sen. Reggie Thomas (D-Fayette) faces a write-in candidate.  
- Looking at the Senate primary races, 6 seats will have contested primaries. In 2 of those races the winner will hold the seat, because there is no challenger in the general election.
- Two incumbents have primary challengers, Sen. Albert Robinson (R-Laurel) and Sen. Rick Girdler (R-Pulaski). In Sen. Girdler's race, the winner takes all as there is no general election challenger. 
- There is one special election being held on primary day to replace Sen. Ernie Harris (R-Oldham) who retired on April 15. The winner of the special election will serve Harris' unexpired term, until 2022. Democrats nominated Kathy Berg, a physician who Sen. Harris beat in November 2018. Republicans nominated Bill Ferko, an executive and local GOP activist. The winner of the June 23 special election will take the seat, which has been held by Republicans for more than 20 years.   

- The House is controlled by GOP 62-38 heading into this election cycle.
- The House spreadsheet shows 100 House seats are up for election in November, 23 are uncontested (11 Dem & 12 GOP). Of the remaining 77 contested seats they are currently controlled (27 Dem & 50 GOP).
- Looking at the House primary races, 28 seats will have contested primaries with two of the seats having contested primaries for both parties bringing the total number of House primary races to 30. In 12 of those races the winner will hold the seat, because there is no challenger in the general election.
- 11 Incumbents have primary challengers: 3 Democrats - Miller, Burch, Kulkarni & 8 GOP - Rudy, Webber, McCoy, Upchurch, Osborne, Brenda, Yates, & R. Huff. 8 of these primary races featuring incumbents will be winner take all elections as there are no general election challengers.
- 9 of the 11 GOP incumbents with a primary challenger serve in Leadership or as a Committee Chair, including Speaker Osborne, Majority Floor Leader Rudy, and Majority Whip McCoy. 

Supreme Court
- Kentucky has one Supreme Court seat on the ballot this election cycle. It is currently held by Justice Sam Wright and the district is located in Eastern Kentucky.
- Justice Wright is running for re-election and has drawn two challengers. State Representative Chris Harris (D-Pikeville) is leaving the legislature to run for this seat. Judge Bob Conley from the northeastern part of the state has also filed to run.  
- This is a nonpartisan race, and since there are three candidates, the top two vote getters in the primary will advance to the general election in November.  

Additional Dynamics
Due to COVID-19, Governor Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams by executive order have approved and are encouraging the use of mail-in ballots through an expanded absentee program. The State Board of Elections will mail a postcard to every voter informing them of their options. Voters will have to request an actual mail-in ballot. Counties will not staff normal polling precincts but will offer the option for in-person ballots both before and on Election Day at a smaller number of locations. 

It's not clear what impact all of these changes will have on voter turnout although when implemented in other states, there is some evidence of an increase in first-time voters and voters who do not usually participate in primary elections. The pandemic may have a significant impact on the primary election due to the lack of in-person fundraisers and the change in voting procedures.