Kentucky Political News Headlines

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2012 Election Recap

Kentucky voters went to the polls on Tuesday to elect their representatives at all levels of government. Going into election day the big headlines at the state level were all tied to whether Republicans could capitalize on President Obama's lack of popularity in Kentucky, as Romney won Kentucky with 60% of the vote: 1. Could the House GOP gain a net of 10 seats to garner control of the State House, 2. Could Congressman Chandler (D-Versailles) hold onto the 6th Congressional District from a strong challenge from Andy Barr in a re-match from 2010, and would the GOP broaden their majority in the State Senate. Certainly Republicans fared well in Kentucky, but it wasn't a complete sweep, here is a quick run down on those story lines. 

1. House GOP gains a net of 4 seats - Obviously not the 10 seats they were hoping to pick up in order to gain control of the State House. Going into tonight the state House balance of power was 59-41, after tonight's results Democrats now have a 55-45 majority with the GOP picking up 4 seats. Here are the main seats in play on Tuesday night:

- 3 Incumbents Lose: Heading into this election many were speculating on whether there would be rampant anti-incumbent sentiment. Its too early to draw any solid conclusions from Tuesday's results, but the facts are that 3 State House incumbents lost: 2 Democrats and 1 Republican. Here is a rundown:

49th - Rep. Linda Belcher was defeated by Russell Webber - GOP Pickup
38th - Rep. Mike Nemes was defeated by Denny Butler - Democrat Pickup
91st - Rep. Teddy Edmonds was defeated by Gary Herald - GOP Pickup

*As of this report in the 7th district Rep. John Arnold appears to have won by 5 votes. This will likely be subject to a recanvass and/or recount.

- 6 Open Seats:  3 Currently Held by Rs (Farmer-88th, Napier-36th, Housman-3rd) & 3 Currently Held by Ds (Nesler-2nd, Henley-5th, Cherry-4th)
Here are the results: 

88th - Benvenutti (R) beat Thomas (D) - GOP Holds
36th - Shell (R) beat Montgomery (D) - GOP Holds
3rd - Watkins (D) beats Crockett (R) - Democrat Pickup
2nd - Heath (R) defeats Whitaker (D) - GOP Pickup 
4th - Bechler (R) defeats Giannini (D) - GOP Pickup
5th - Imes (R) defeats Kemp (D) - GOP Pickup

2. Barr takes down Incumbent Chandler - In a heated rematch that was settled by less than 700 votes in 2010, the biggest surprise in Kentucky may have been the win by Andy Barr, defeating incumbent Ben Chandler for the 6th district Congressional district by a margin of roughly four percent.  This was a tough battle that saw approximately $4M spent on television advertising.  While after redistricting it was assumed Congressman Chandler would have the edge, it appears that Barr received most of his votes from the districts that were assumed to be Chandler leaning, perhaps due to the President Obama being on the ballot.  Coal was a huge issue in this race and it appears that although strongly democratic, coal issues may have swayed the race leading to a win by now Congressman Andy Barr. This article covers the race.

3. GOP Gains 1 in State Senate - Heading into Election Day the Senate GOP looked to widen its 22-15-1 majority by targeting a couple of incumbents, while the Senate Democrats looked to make gains in open seats. The end result was a GOP gain of 1. Here is a rundown on the races of interest:

- Anti-Incumbent Sentiment - We saw several incumbents lose in the State House and the anti-incumbent bug bit in the Senate as well. Sen. Joey Pendleton was beat by GOP Challenger Whitney Westerfield by 200 votes. 

- GOP Holds onto Open Seats - Three Open Seats all currently held by Rs (Westwood-23rd, Winters-1st, Jensen-21st) will remain in GOP hands after Tuesday.

23rd - Chris McDaniel (R) defeated James Noll (D)
1st - Stan Humphries (R) defeated Carroll Hubbard (D)
21st - Former Senator Albert Robinson defeated Amie Hacker (D)

A full run down of the election returns is attached as of 11:30 p.m. and 98% precincts reporting. We will have more analysis in the days ahead.