Kentucky Political News Headlines

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2010 Election Overview

The 2010 Primary Election is just over a week away and will be held on Tuesday, May 18. This year will be a big election year particularly for the Kentucky General Assembly as all 100 House Members and half of the state Senate Members, 19 of 38, are up for re-election. As we shared back in January after the candidate filing deadline there was a large number of candidate filings this year as 232 people filed to run for these 119 seats. Now with the primary deadline approaching we wanted to give you on overview of these primary races and the dynamics that are at play.

Federal races normally don't play into local legislative races in Kentucky.  This year could be different with the darling of the tea party movement, Rand Paul currently leading in the Republican US Senate primary against the establishment candidate, Secretary of State Trey Grayson.  If Rand Paul wins the primary, his support will strengthen and the money will flow in from around the country.  It could mean tough times ahead for incumbents in the general election in November. It could also mean attacks on the upstart from more moderate Republican corners.

For a breakdown on all of the legislative races download our notes HERE

We hope this helps set the stage for election day on Tuesday and then also looking ahead to November.  We will send a break-down with the outcomes of Tuesday's election and will keep you updated through the summer and fall, leading up to the general election.

State Senate

The Senate Republicans hold a 20-17-1 majority. The one independent caucuses with the Republicans and serves as Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, so it is essentially a 21-17 margin.

Last summer the Democrats made a run at taking the Senate back after the resignation of Senator Charlie Borders (R) and subsequent special election of Senator Robin Webb (D). Then Senate Majority Floor leader Dan Kelly was poised to resign and accept a judgeship and if the special election to replace him produced a Democrat, the margin would have gone to 19-18-1. Some Frankfort pundits predicted that if Kelly's seat went Democratic there would be more resignations or defections and Senator Williams could be in danger of losing his Republican majority and position as President.

Kelly did resign, but Jimmy Higdon, now Senator Higdon, won easily and boosted the Senate Republican majority and stymied the Democrats efforts to take the Senate and remove President Williams. Now with a full slate of legislative elections in the Senate this year, the balance of power is once again up for grabs.

This election cycle there are 19 senate races up with 17 being contested in either the primary, general or both. Only Senator Higdon's and Senator Dorsey Ridley's seats are uncontested. Of the 17 contested seats, currently the Republicans hold 10 and the Democrats hold 6 and the 1 independent Bob Leeper. Two of the 17 seats are open seats, (Worley (D) and Tapp (R) retired). In the 15 seats that are currently occupied by an Incumbent, 6 of the incumbents have a primary election, 5 Republicans (Kerr, Harris, Denton, Buford,Williams) and one Democrat (Palmer).

State House

The Democrats hold a substantial 65-35 majority in the House, but their substantial majority also means they have more at risk in the fall elections. There are 58 of 100 State House seats contested in either the primary or general elections, incumbents occupy 54 of those seats. There are 5 open seats created by retirements, but only 4 of those are contested, Sara Gregory (R) replacing Rep. Upchurch did not draw an opponent. 14 of the incumbents have a primary election, 5 Republicans (Napier, Koenig, Siler, York, Turner) & 9 Democrats (Gooch, J.Lee, Riner, Henderson, Edmonds, A.Smith, Combs, Overly, R.Adams).

The real story in the House is that of the 58 contested seats, currently the Republicans hold 13 and the Democrats hold 45. This is a large number of seats for the House Democrats to protect, particularly if any or all of these factors are at play this Fall: the national political scene leans conservative, the tea party movement gains momentum, or the anti-incumbent sentiment is high. In nearly any scenario it is unlikely the Republicans could pick up enough seats to gain control of the House. But it is feasible to see them making some gains and commanding a larger role in policy making decisions.