Kentucky Political News Headlines

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

KY Election Update

Last night we provided you an unofficial and timely update on Kentucky's election results. In doing so we had a couple of errors in our report on the State House races and we wanted to correct that in this update. In addition, we wanted to provide a bit more information on the state legislative candidates that won the various seats last night.

State House
Republicans in the House will maintain a super majority after last night's election. Based on unofficial results it appears the GOP will control the House 61-39, a net loss of two seats. It is worth noting that there were 4 incumbents who lost in races decided by less than 10 votes, so if there are recanvasses or recounts that lead to different outcomes then the numbers in the House could change slightly.

There were 8 incumbents defeated last night, 6 GOP and 2 Democrats. In addition, there were 24 open seats last night, with 14 won by GOP and 10 by Democrats. This means that there will be 32 new members of the 100-seat House when it convenes in January. Below is more information on last night's results:

Incumbents who lost 8 (6 GOP-2 DEM)

Jeff Greer (D) by Nancy Tate (R)
Linda Belcher (D) by Thomas Huff (R)
Toby Herald by Cluster Howard (D)
DJ Johnson (R) by Jim Glenn (D)
Phil Moffett (R) by Tina Bojanowski (D)
Ken Fleming (R) by Maria Sorolis (D)
Larry Brown (R) by Ashley Laferty (D)
Jill York (R) by Kathy Hinkle (D)

Open seats 24 (14 GOP-10 DEM)

Randy Bridges (R) (Created by Watkins (D) retirement)
Larry Elkins (R) (Created by Imes (R) retirement)
Chris Freeland (R) (Created by Coursey (D) retirement)
Scott Lewis (R) (Created by Castlen (R) running for Senate)
Steve Sheldon (R) (Created by Decesare (R) retirement)
Savannah Maddox (R) (Created by Linder (R) retirement)
Ed Massey (R) (Created by Wuchner (R) retirement)
Travis Brenda (R) (Defeated incumbent Shell (R) in Primary)
Matthew Koch (R) (Created by Overly (D) retirement)
Les Yates (R) (Created by Mayfield (R) retirement)
Deanna Frazier (R) (Defeated incumbent Morgan (R) in Primary)
Adam Bowling (R) (Created by Nelson (D) retirement)
Bobby McCool (R) (Created by Wells (R) retirement)
Derek Lewis (R) (Defeated incumbent Tim Couch (R) in Primary)
Rob Wiederstein (D) (Created by Mills (R) running for Senate)
Patti Minter (D) (Created by Richards (D) retirement)
Josie Raymond (D) (Created by Riggs (D) retirement)
Nima Kulkarni (D) (Defeated incumbent Horlander (D) in Primary)
Charles Booker (D) (Created by Owens (D) retirement)
Joe Graviss (D) (Created by Kay (D) retirement)
Buddy Wheatley (D) (Created by Simpson (D) retirement)
Cherlynn Stevenson (D) (Created by Benvenuti (R) retirement)
Terri Clark (D) (Created by Sinnette (D) retirement)
Lisa Willner (D) (Created by Wayne (D) retirement)

State Senate
Republicans in the Senate will grow their super majority after last night's election. Based on unofficial results it appears the GOP will control the Senate 28-10, a net gain of one seat after successfully defending 16 incumbents, winning an open seat, and beating one incumbent Senate Democrat Caucus Chairman Dorsey Ridley. Sen. Parrett (D) ran unopposed and Sen. Webb (D) won re-election. More details on the two changes in the Senate after last night's results:

Matt Castlen (R) (Won open seat created by Bowen (R) retirement)
Robby Mills (R) (Defeated incumbent Dorsey Ridley (D))

We will have additional analysis in the days and weeks ahead.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

KY Election Results

Edited 11/7 7:50am - To reflect Rep. Herald loss, changing House majority to 61-39

Kentuckians went to the polls today in large numbers to elect candidates to state, local and federal offices. We will be providing more analysis about the outcome of the elections in the days ahead, but wanted to get you the latest unofficial results:

State House
Republicans in the House will maintain a super majority after tonight's election. Based on unofficial results it appears the GOP will control the House 62-38 61-39, a net loss of one seat two seats after 90 contested races. Overall it was a mixed bag of results with incumbents of both parties losing and the 24 open seats being split by both parties. 

7 incumbents lost (5 R and 2 D) 8 incumbents lost (6R and 2 D):
York (R)
Greer (D)
Moffett (R)
Fleming (R)
Belcher (D)
DJ Johnson (R)
Brown (R)
Herald (R)

In the 24 open seats, GOP won 14 and Democrats won 10.  

State Senate
Republicans in the Senate will grow their super majority after tonight's election. Based on unofficial results it appears the GOP will control the Senate 28-10, a net gain of one seat after successfully defending 14 incumbents, winning an open seat, and beating one incumbent Senate Democrat Caucus Chairman Dorsey Ridley. Sen. Parrett (D) ran unopposed and Sen. Webb (D) won re-election.

Congressional Races
All 6 of Kentucky's congressional seats were up for re-election and all six incumbents were re-elected. Kentucky's congressional delegation remains 5 GOP & 1 Democrat. The race with the most national interest was the 6th congressional district held by Rep. Andy Barr who faced a stiff challenge from Amy McGrath, but Barr held on to win by 10,000 votes.

Supreme Court
Kentucky had one vacancy on its Supreme Court with the retirement of 3rd district Justice Daniel Venters. Debra Lambert was elected to serve the 3rd Supreme Court district. 

Early Analysis
It was a very active election cycle, particularly in the state legislative races after a volatile 2018 Session and a record number of contested races. However, at the end of the night things appear much as they did before the candidate filing deadline in January with GOP super majorities in each chamber. More analysis to come in the days ahead. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Election Preview

Tomorrow, Kentuckians will go to the polls bringing a close to the 2018 election season. This election cycle includes not only a hotly contested congressional race in Kentucky's 6th district in Central KY, but also more contested state legislative races than we've seen in years. Judicial and local government candidates will round out lengthy ballots across the Commonwealth. With that in mind, we hope this short analysis will be helpful as tomorrow night's results begin to pour in. As always, we'll provide an update tomorrow evening and a more detailed analysis shortly thereafter.

State Legislative Races

House of Representatives

All 100 state house seats are up for re-election. Of the 100 seats, 90 are contested and there are 23 open seats, where the incumbent either chose not to run for re-election or was defeated in the May primary. Here's the breakdown:

Of the 90 contested races – 60 are currently GOP seats and 30 are currently DEM seats.

With 23 "open" seats we are guaranteed at least 23 new members of the House when the legislature gavels in session in January. Of the 23, 12 are currently held by the Democrats and 11 by the Republicans.

The following ten House members don't have opposition  - Rep. Charlie Miller (D – Louisville), Rep. Russ Meyer (D – Nicholasville), Rep. Attica Scott (D – Louisville), Rep. John Sims (D – Flemingsburg), Rep. Kelly Flood (D – Lexington), Rep. David Meade (R – Stanford), Rep. Jeff Hoover (R – Jamestown), Derek Lewis (R – London), Rep. Angie Hatton (D – Whitesburg), and Rep. Rocky Adkins (D – Sandy Hook)

The current make-up of the House is 62-37, with the Republicans holding a super majority. There's one vacant seat, which was created when Governor Bevin appointed Rep. Kenny Imes as the County Judge Executive in Calloway County. Having at least 60 seats allows the majority party to pass certain measures, like constitutional amendment legislation, revenue bills, and procedure and rule changes without seeking support from members of the minority.


Nineteen, or half of the Senate's 38 seats are up for re-election tomorrow. Here's the breakdown:

There are 18 contested races. Of those, 16 are GOP seats and 2 are DEM seats.

Senator Dennis Parrett (D-Elizabethtown) is the sole member without a contested race.

There is one open seat, with incumbent Senator Joe Bowen not running for re-election

Two current state House members are running for seats in the Senate. Rep. Matt Castlen is running for the open seat, while Rep. Robby Mills is running against incumbent Senator Dorsey Ridley.

Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones is running for County Judge Executive in Pike County. If he wins, a special election will be called to fill his Senate seat.

The current make-up of the Senate is 27 to 11, with the Republicans – like in the House – holding a supermajority of the votes. A supermajority in the Senate is considered to be 23 seats.

What To Watch For

Following a contentious and controversial debate and vote on pension reform legislation during the session, teacher and state employee organizers began a "Remember in November" campaign focusing on members who voted for the pension changes. While there was some impact in the May primary races, it remains to be seen whether the effort will produce any significant amount of change in the general election.

Will the Republicans maintain super majorities in the House and Senate? Legislative leaders have indicated they want to tackle "tax reform 2.0" during the 2019 session, but 60 votes in the House and 23 in the Senate will be needed to pass any revenue-raising measure. Without super majorities, a bi-partisan effort will be needed to move forward with these changes.

There are a handful of "rematches" in the House worth keeping an eye on. In the 8th, Rep. Walker Thomas (R) is running against Jeff Taylor (D), who he beat for the seat two years ago. In the 13th, former member Jim Glenn (D) is challenging Rep. DJ Johnson (R) in hopes of winning the seat back.  Brent Yonts (D), a longtime representative in the 15th, is running against current incumbent Rep. Melinda Prunty (R) who beat Yonts in 2016. The 24th has Terry Mills (D) challenging incumbent Brandon Reed (R) and in the 91st Cluster Howard (D) and Rep. Toby Herald (R) face-off for the third time.

President Trump remains very popular in rural areas of the state and recorded autodial phone calls, which were turned into radio ads, supporting several House Republican candidates. Trump's popularity declines, though, in the state's population centers, like Louisville and Lexington, which could be areas where Democrats make gains.

There continues to be heavy third-party spending in Kentucky legislative races, although maybe not quite as much as in 2016. Groups like Kentucky Tomorrow, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership and Kentucky Family Values have spent significant amounts.

Will the 6th District Congressional race between Congressman Andy Barr and Amy McGrath impact legislative races in the Central Kentucky area? This race is expected to be close and record amounts have been spent on both sides. Due to the increased interest in this race, it could possibly impact the legislative races down the ballot.