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Welcome to the MML&K Government Solutions blog where we try to keep you informed about the actions of the General Assembly, political updates, and more news from Frankfort and around the Commonwealth.
KY Primary Election Results
Tuesday’s primary elections in Kentucky have now set the stage for legislative battles in November. House Republicans are setting their sights on trying to win control of that chamber from the Democrats who hold slim 53-47 majority. Meanwhile Senate Republicans are easily poised to maintain their strong majority. The following is a roundup of key legislative primaries from around the Commonwealth.
11th House District
Henderson City Commissioner Robby Mills won Tuesday's Republican primary, defeating Henderson physician James Buckmaster by nearly 11 points. Mills will face another physician, Democratic Rep. David Watkins, in November.
23rd House District (Open)
Two Republicans and two Democrats squared off in primary races Tuesday for a chance to succeed retiring House Democratic Majority Caucus Chair Johnny Bell of Glasgow. Glasgow attorney Danny Basil overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary with nearly 65 percent of the vote, defeating Glasgow City Councilman Joe Trigg. Meanwhile, retired educator Steve Riley easily won the Republican nomination with more than 71 percent, defeating Freddie Joe Wilkerson.
33rd House District
Republican Rep. Ron Crimm of Louisville, an 19-year incumbent, will not be returning to Frankfort next session after succumbing to Louisville lawyer Jason Nemes. Nemes handed the 81-year-old Crimm a 17-point defeat in a three-way Republican primary. Louisville accountant Andrew Schachtner finished third with 430 votes.
Nemes is the former director of the Administrative Office of the Courts and chief of staff for the Kentucky Supreme Court. His father, Mike Nemes, is a former state legislator and currently the deputy secretary of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet under Gov. Matt Bevin. Nemes will face Democratic candidate Rob Walker, an attorney, in the heavily Republican district which covers parts of northeastern Jefferson County and southwestern Oldham County. Walker is a conservative Democrat in a Republican district, and touts himself as being a member of Governor Bevin’s transition team when the governor took office last year.
38th House District
First-time candidate McKenzie Cantrell, a Louisville attorney for the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, soundly defeated longtime Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson in the Democratic primary. Cantrell will face incumbent Republican Rep. Denny Butler. Butler was twice elected in the district as a Democrat, but he switched to the GOP last year after disagreements with House Speaker Greg Stumbo and after Republican Matt Bevin's victory in the race for governor.
41st House District
Former Democratic Metro Council member Attica Scott soundly defeated Rep. Tom Riner, a 34-year veteran Democrat in the state House. Scott, an Emerge Kentucky graduate, finished with 54 percent of the vote to Riner’s 34 percent. A third candidate, Phil Baker, received about 19 percent of the vote. Riner, a Baptist minister noted for his independent streak, opted to not fundraise for the race and has been mired in controversy after recruiting the Liberty Counsel to assist with Rowan Co. Clerk Kim Davis’ legal defense when she opted to stop issuing marriage licenses. A current Democratic state representative and a former state legislator both endorsed Scott in the race, citing the Kim Davis controversy.
Scott has no Republican challengers in the general election and will be the likely winner unless an Independent candidate files for the race by August. Scott is the first African-American woman elected to the General Assembly since Eleanor Jordan, who left office in 2000.
64th House District (Open)
Democrat Lucas Deaton and Republican Kimberly Moser each received their party’s nomination to replace retiring Republican state Rep. Thomas Kerr.
Democrat Lucas Deaton handily dispatched Larry Varney with 77 percent of the vote. Deaton, 30, currently serves on Independence City Council. He was elected to that office in 2014. He started his own private law practice in 2015 in Independence, providing free legal counsel to a nonprofit group that is dedicated to raising awareness of military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Deaton previously worked as a pretrial officer for the state. He is a graduate of Valparaiso School of Law and has a bachelor of arts from Georgetown College in Kentucky.
Republican Kimberly Poore Moser also easily defeated her opponent, Sean FitzGerald, garnering 77 percent of the vote. Moser, 53, is a political newcomer from Taylor Mill and serves as director of the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. She has served on Kentucky Physicians PAC board, as well as the coordinating council of the Northern KY Heroin Impact Response Task Force as legislative liaison for the past two years, and helped write the legislation created to combat the heroin epidemic during the 2015 legislative session. Moser, who graduated from Spaulding University with a bachelor of science in nursing, has 14 years of experience as a registered nurse in neonatal intensive care units and as a flight nurse for the UK Neonatal Transport Team.
91st House District
Former Republican state Rep. Toby Herald, who narrowly lost his seat in 2014 to Democratic Rep. Cluster Howard by a mere 14 votes , will have a chance to retake his Eastern Kentucky seat after edging fellow Republican Randall Christopher by 72 votes. Herald won by a scant 2.6 points, carrying Lee and Owsley counties while Christopher bested him in Breathitt, Estill and Madison counties. Herald will face Howard, of Jackson, in the November election.
94th House District (Open)
The race to replace outgoing Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville will be between former Pikeville Mayor Frankie Justice and Assistant Letcher County Attorney Angie Hatton.
Justice won a four-way Democratic primary with 39 percent of the vote, besting his closest competitor, Charles Wheeler, by 190 votes. Justice carried Pike County while the third-place finisher, Colin Fultz, won Letcher County. Hatton won her Republican primary against Joel Thornbury by more than 21 points, overwhelmingly winning Letcher County by 1,607 votes while Thornbury carried Pike County by 504.
95th House District
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg held off Democratic challenger Jimmy Rose by more than 8 points in his primary Tuesday. Stumbo carried Floyd and Pike counties, and he’ll face Republican Larry Brown in the November election.
11th Senate District
Northern Kentucky Republican Sen. John Schickel crushed his Republican challenger Josh L. Turner with 81 percent of the vote. Schickel was first elected in 2008 and now serves as chairman of the Senate Licensing & Occupations Committee. This is the second time he has defeated Turner. No Democrat filed in the race, which means Schickel will likely be returning to Frankfort if no Independent candidate files to run by August.
15th Senate District (Open)
In one of the most civil contests of the primary, outgoing Sen. Chris Girdler’s uncle, Rick Girdler, edged fellow Republicans with nearly 32 percent of the vote in a four-way primary. Rick Girdler, 60, touted his nearly four decades of experience in the insurance business and his social and fiscal conservatism. Insurance agent Don Moss finished second with 25 percent, followed by Michael Keck with 23 percent and Joshua Nichols with 21 percent. No Democrats are competing in the general election, making Rick Girdler the next senator for the region if no Independent candidate files in the race.
21st Senate District
Republican Sen. Albert Robinson of turned back a primary challenge from London businessman Michael Bryant. Robinson, a staunch social conservative with higher name recognition from nearly 30 years in the state House and Senate, topped Bryant by about 11 percentage points. Robinson will face Democrat Janice Odom of Clay City in the fall. Odom, 48, is a business consultant and operator of a publishing company. The district is made up of Laurel, Jackson, Estill, Powell, Menifee and Bath counties.
31st Senate District
In what turned out to be one of the most contentious primaries this cycle, Senate Democratic Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones cruised to a 42-point victory over Democratic challenger Glenn Martin Hammond. Jones and Hammond had accused one another of supporting anti-coal efforts in television ads before turning to more personal material, with Hammond questioning Jones’ relationship with a local utility manager, while Jones countered that Hammond bounced checks intended to cover his law firm’s occupational taxes. Jones has no Republican opposition this fall and carried all five counties in the district.
33rd Senate District
Senate Democratic Minority Caucus Chair Gerald Neal fended off two challengers to win by more than 16 points. Neal, a Louisville attorney who has served 28 years in the Legislature, bested retired Jefferson District Judge Toni Stringer and his one-time aide Charles Booker in the three-way race, taking 48.4 percent of the vote. Neal will face Republican Shenita Rickman in the November election after she edged John Yuen in the Republican primary by 37 votes. Rickman runs a Louisville non-profit agency. This is a heavily Democratic district.