2012 elections preview: Kentucky voters to select primary winners in congressional, legislative races

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May 21, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The fast-moving primary season of May and June continues tomorrow with elections in Arkansas and Kentucky.

Here's what to watch for in Kentucky, where polling places will be open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. When the polls close, any voter in line will be permitted to vote.

Voter turnout in Kentucky is expected to be low, with some saying turnout as low as ten percent.[1]

Contested Primaries in Kentucky -- May 22, 2012
U.S. House
(6 seats)
State Legislature
(119 seats)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 4 (66.66%) 15 (12.61%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 2 (33.33%) 24 (20.17%)


United States House of Representatives elections in Kentucky, 2012

Kentucky has a total of 6 seats on the ballot in 2012. A total of 24 candidates have filed to run, made up of 8 Democratic challengers, 11 Republican challengers, and 5 incumbents. Including the two states with primaries tomorrow, a total of 117 U.S. House seats have held primaries. Thus far, 57.26% of possible primaries have been contested. Kentucky's contested figure of 50.00% (6 of 12 possible party primaries) is less competitive than the national average.

In the 6 congressional districts, there are 4 Democratic races contested, with two or more candidates running, and 2 Republican contested races. The Democratic races with a single candidate running unopposed include candidate David Lynn Williams in the 1st District and incumbent Ben Chandler in the 6th District.

The Republican races with a single candidate running unopposed are incumbent Ed Whitfield in the 1st District, incumbent Brett Guthrie in the 2nd District, candidate Brooks Wicker in the 3rd District, and incumbent Hal Rogers in the 5th District.

The open seat in Kentucky’s 4th District from retiring Republican incumbent Geoff Davis has created a primary battle on the Republican ticket, with seven candidates filing to battle for the nomination in the primary.

In the 1st District candidates Charles Kendall Hatchett and James Buckmaster are running for the Democratic nomination and the chance to run against incumbent Ed Whitfield in the general election.

The Democratic primary in the 3rd District between incumbent John Yarmuth and Burrel Charles Farnsley will decide the general election competition for Republican candidate Brooks Wicker.

Candidates Kenneth Stepp and Michael Ackerman are running in the 5th District for the chance to win the Democratic nomination and the opportunity to face off against incumbent Hal Rogers in the general election.

Likewise, the Republican primary in the 6th District will decide the challenger for Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler in the general election. Candidates Andy Barr, Curtis Kenimer and Patrick J. Kelly II will battle each other for the nomination in the primary tomorrow. Barr narrowly lost to Chandler in the 2010 election.[1]

Members of the U.S. House from Kentucky -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 2 1
     Republican Party 4 5
Total 6 6

State legislature

Kentucky State Senate elections, 2012 and Kentucky House of Representatives elections, 2012

There are 119 total legislative seats with elections in 2012 -- 19 Senate seats and 100 House seats.

There are 15 (12.61%) contested Democratic primaries and 24 (20.17%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there will be 39 races tomorrow with at least two candidates on the ballot. The 16.39% figure of contested primaries in Kentucky is lower than the current national contested average of 23.42% for states that have had filing deadlines.

The tea party is playing an active role in the elections, targeting at least eight incumbents for defeat in the primaries.

Kentucky State Senate

In the Senate, all three Republican incumbents facing a primary are going up against tea party supporters.

  • David P. Givens was first elected to the 9th District in 2008. He faces a challenge from Don M. Butler, II, a former Metcalf County Judge-Executive who has outraised Givens by nearly double.[2]
  • 11th District incumbent John Schickel is facing Joshua Turner, a young aerospace worker who said the tea party movement encouraged him to get more involved in politics.[3]
  • In the 17th District, incumbent Damon Thayer is being challenged by tea party supporter Rick Hostetler.[2]

Kentucky House of Representatives

At least five House incumbents - 4 Republicans and 1 Democrat - are being targeted by tea party candidates. They are as follows:

Kentucky State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 14 14
     Republican Party 21 22
     Independent 1 1
     Vacancy 2 1
Total 38 38

Kentucky House of Representatives
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 58 55
     Republican Party 41 45
     Vacancy 1 0
Total 100 100

See also

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