There is not a whole lot going on in Kentucky this year. The presidential race is over, but I have a feeling that President Obama will finally win Kentucky in a narrow victory over "uncommitted", though he will likely trail in much of rural Kentucky. Basically there is the 4th district open seat, and a few state legislative primaries to watch. Remember at the state legislative level, that since the new maps were thrown out by the courts, all races will be under the 2002 maps.
Another thing you may note is that Sen. Rand Paul is getting involved in many primaries.
U.S. House- 4th District GOP- Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Hebron)
Candidates: St. Rep. Alicia Webb-Edgington; Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore; Lewis County Judge-Executive Thomas Massie; 2006 State Supreme Court candidate Marcus Carey; Walter Schumm; Lynn Belcher; and Brian Oerther
Essentially, this is a three person race between Webb-Edgington, Moore, and Massie. Kentucky is a closed primary state, and Republican registration lags behind their party performance. Democrats actually outnumber Republicans in the 4th District, which was held by Rep. Ken Lucas from 1999-2005. This is essentially the election for this seat here. Here is the distribution of the Republicans in the 4th:
Boone 44,365 20.36
Boyd (p) 9,817 4.50
Bracken 1,142 0.52
Campbell 27,730 12.72
Carroll 1,048 0.48
Gallatin 1,507 0.69
Grant 5,520 2.53
Greenup 9,201 4.22
Harrison (p) 2,035 0.93
Henry 3,319 1.52
Jefferson (p) 6,889 3.16
Kenton 50,077 22.98
Lewis 7,019 3.22
Mason 3,356 1.54
Oldham 22,968 10.54
Owen 1,839 0.84
Pendleton 4,455 2.04
Shelby 10,867 4.99
Spencer (p) 3,709 1.70
Trimble 1,257 0.58
If you add the all important Kenton-Campbell-Boone numbers together, you get a little over 56%, but that number will be even higher due to important primaries in that area. Massie is clearly the Tea Party candidate. He is being backed by Sen. Rand Paul and a Super PAC, run by a 21 year old from Texas has dumped a massive amount of money here. It is spent more than all other candidates combined. That is allowed Massie to dominate the Louisville market, where about 20% of the GOP voters are. It is also important to note that Schumm is running hard in this area. Massie also dominates spending because of the Super PAC in the far eastern end of the district around Ashland and Flatwoods. Massie is hoping his being from Lewis County will help him in this part of the district, but this part of the district is less than 12% of the district.
The real fight is over Kenton-Campbell-Boone. When it is all said and done, I would suspect that 65-70% of the votes on election night will come from here. Webb-Edgington has the endorsements of former Sen. Jim Bunning and Rep. Geoff Davis. Moore has the Kentucky and Northern Kentucky Right to Life endorsements. What Massie hopes is that these two candidates will split the vote in this region, while he can get the Tea Party vote here, which is very strong in Boone County, while adding up margins in the remainder of the district to pull this off. If one candidate emerges ahead of Massie, it will likely be Webb-Edgington, who is the more establishment choice, who could be a future statewide candidate for the Republicans someday.
State Senate- 22 Republicans, 15 Democrats, 1 Independent (caucuses with GOP)
Only odd seats are up this year. Democrats have limited pickup opportunities this year as well. They should have been favored to retake Sen. Ken Winters (R-Murray)'s seat in the 1st district, but they again nominated disgraced former U.S. Rep. Carroll Hubbard. Democrats should worry about Sen. Joey Pendleton (D-Hopkinsville), given how bad President Obama will run there. Democrats may be able to make a run at the 17th district if Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) loses the primary. They also have an outside chance at the open 23rd district. A few Democrats even think they have a slim chance at Sen. Robert Stivers (R-Manchester), but I doubt that. If Democrats can steal away a seat this year, they may be able to make a run at the Senate in 2014 when they can make a run several even numbered seats, but redistricting will have taken hold under a new map to be drawn in 2013.
State Senate- 9th District GOP- Sen. David Givens (R-Greensburg)
Challenger- Former Metcalfe County Judge-Executive Don Butler
Counties: Allen, Barren, Edmondson, Green, Metcalfe, Simpson
This is a Tea Party vs. establishment race. Givens was elected in 2008 and has been a fairly establishment member, who some have touted for a future leadership role in the Senate. Specifically, Givens is being hit for a vote on the gas tax and a refusal to sign the Norquist pledge. Strangely, the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) is backing Butler, who is the clear Tea Party candidate. Democrats did not file a candidate here, so this is the election. What threw this race wide open is that Butler shelled out $100,000 of his own money here. Then add that Givens won a very split primary in 2008, and that both candidates come from the two smallest counties in the district, and you have for an interesting primary battle.
State Senate- 15th District GOP- Sen. Vernie McGaha (R-Russell Springs) retiring
Candidates- A.C. Donahue, Chris Girdler, Todd Hoskins, Mark Polston
Counties- Adair, Casey, Pulaski, Russell
This is a race that was never supposed to happen. McGaha announced his retirement, which allowed Sen. David Williams to pick away parts of this district and at the same time help to strengthen other Republicans. The adopted map had the 15th district in Nelson and Bullitt counties. But, there is a primary here, and it is the election (no Democrats filed). There are more registered Republicans in the 15th than any other Senate district. The person expected to dominate here is Girdler, who is a former aide to popular GOP Rep. Hal Rogers, who still has a great deal of control over Pulaski County (Somerset), where he was the Commonwealth Attorney in the 1970s. Polston has tried to run as the Tea Party favorite, but these are Republicans in this part of the state that actually like the pork that Hal Rogers brings them. Girdler also has a giant money advantage.
State Senate- 17th District GOP- Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown)
Challenger- Rick Hostettler (R)
Democrat- David Holcomb
Counties- Grant, Kenton (part), Owen, Scott
Sen. Damon Thayer is someone that does not care for Sen. David Williams and could be a challenger for the Senate Presidency of Williams next year. But first he must survive this primary. Thayer does have the backing of Sen. Rand Paul and other important endorsements, but Hostettler has the backing of former Governor candidate and crazy person Larry Forgy and many Tea Party organizers. Perhaps the biggest issue Hostettler has with Thayer is his strong support of casino gambling and is trying to show a conflict of interest on Thayer's part on this issue. He has the support of several important ministers who have taken Thayer to task on the issue. Here is the other potential problem for Thayer- while he should do well in his home Scott County, due to the gerrymandering to create this seat in 2002, the majority of primary voters are in southern Kenton County, and then factor in 4th district turnout, the number goes even higher. Thayer has an enormous financial edge here. If Hostettler does pull off an upset here, this seat becomes a battleground in the fall.
State Senate- 19th District Democrats- Sen. Tim Shaunessy (D-Louisville) retiring
Candidates- Sarah Cunningham, Gary Demling, Morgan McGarvey, Amy Shoemaker
Counties- part of Jefferson
This is a primary that was not supposed to happen either. Republicans shifted this seat into more favorable parts of eastern Jefferson County, and the seat was ripe for the pickings of Rep. Julie Raque Adams (R). However, the map got thrown out and we return to a seat with a 26 point Democratic registration advantage. This district takes in parts of Germantown, Old Louisville, Audubon Park, St. Matthews, and Jeffersontown. Republicans tried to pack Democrats into only two districts, and make this seat centered on areas around and to the east of St. Matthews, all the way to the Oldham County line. Now, no Republican filed here, making this the election. All four Democrats have well-known names in the Louisville area. The leading candidate appears to be McGarvey, who has raised the most money. He worked for Attorney General Jack Conway, his father is a prominent lawyer, and Shaunessy has endorsed him, as has the Courier-Journal, Ben Chandler, Jack Conway, Crit Luallen, former Sen. David Karem, and nearly all the most important unions in Louisville. His closest rival in money is Cunningham, an environmental activist, who is the more liberal candidate in the race. Demling also has a lot of name recognition from his father, a well-known professional golfer in the area. Shoemaker is the lowest fundraiser. Essentially, this race is likely between McGarvey and Cunningham, but with an edge to McGarvey.
State Senate- 23rd District Republicans- Sen. Jack Westwood (R-Erlanger) retiring
Candidates- Chris McDaniel; Will Terwort
Democrat- James Noll
Counties- part of Kenton
Westwood, who has faced several tough races, decided to retire this year. The GOP nominee will not get to take advantage of some of the new strongly Republican precincts added in redistricting due to this seat losing so much population. Democrats have a strong base in Covington, but this seat still clearly leans Republican. The leading candidate is businessman Chris McDaniel, who has raised the most money and every important GOP endorsement, including former Sen. Jim Bunning. Terwort is a Ft. Mitchell city councilman, who badly lost a State House race in 2008 to Rep. Alicia Webb-Edgington. This one should not be close. It will be interesting to see in the fall how much Democrats try to make a play here. If McDaniel does win, there will be two St. Sen. named Chris McDaniel. The other is in Mississippi.
State Senate- 37th District Republicans- Sen. Perry Clark (D)
Challengers- Doug Hawkins; Chris Thieneman; John Yeon
District- part of Jefferson
Three Democrats- Kathy Stein of Lexington, Walter Blevins of Eastern Kentucky, and Perry Clark of Louisville all got crewed by Republicans in redistricting. Clark, who is a LaRouche supporter, had his home placed in a district with Denise Harper-Angel, and had decided to not run. Then the maps were thrown out and his old bizarrely shaped district that runs along the south part of the Watterson Expressway was back. Republicans had tried to add more GOP voters in Valley Station. Conway would have only defeated Rand Paul by 7 points. This seat now returns to its 2 to 1 Democratic voter advantage. Despite that, this is a very pro-labor, but fairly socially conservative district. Clark won this seat in a special election in 2006 after the debacle of the 2004 election where the GOP candidate was declared ineligible because of residency. Doug Hawkins was on the Metro council and has ran before. Thieneman got his start as opposing a library tax but has lost GOP primaries to establishment figures. Yeon is rather unknown. However wins will be at a distinct disadvantage to Clark though.
State House- 60 Democrats, 40 Republicans
I am not going to labor over that many races here, but Democrats can lose the House. If they do, the seeds of this will be sown in Western Kentucky, where Democrats face open seats from Rep. Fred Nesler (Graves/Southern McCracken), Mike Cherry (Caldwell, Crittenden, Livingston, Eastern McCracken), and Melvin Henley (Calloway, Western Trigg). Then they plan to go after Democrats in seats that President Obama will do very badly in and have drifted to the GOP. Here is a short list- Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville), Terry Mills (D-Lebanon), Linda Belcher (D-Shepherdsville), Carl Rollins (D-Midway), Dennis Keene (D-Wilder), Rick Nelson (D-Middlesboro), Ted Edmonds (D-Jackson), and Hubert Collins (D-Wittensville). Republicans hope that if they can get 48 or 49 seats that they could get a few Democrats to switch parties. However, the GOP must defend an open seat in Paducah held by Rep. Brent Housman. There are a few vulnerable GOP incumbents as well- Rep. Ben Waide (R-Madisonville), Michael Meredith (R-Brownsville), Mike Nemes (R-Louisville), Kim King (R-Harrodsburg), Ryan Quarles (R-Georgetown), and Donna Mayfield (R-Winchester).
State House- District 37- Democrats- Rep. Wade Hurt (D-Louisville)
Challenger: Jeffrey Donohue
Counties- Part of Jefferson
This race is interesting because Jeffrey Donohue should have won the race here in 2010, but he did not submit enough valid signatures to get on the ballot. And the requirement was a grand total of TWO signatures. Then Wade Hurt ran unopposed for the seat. Seeing that this seat in SW Jefferson County was unlikely to elect a Republican, Hurt switched parties and is now running as a Democrat. The labor endorsements here are split as are the other endorsements from prominent Democrats. Donohue is running as the "genuine Democrat" in the race, painting Hurt as a fair weather politician.
State House- District 66 Republicans- Rep. Addia Wuchner (R-Burlington)
Challengers- Cathy Flaig, William Woods
Counties- Part of Boone
This may very well be the most Republican State House district in the entire state. It is also one of the strongest Tea Party area in the state as well. Wuchner, who is no moderate is being challenged by Cathy Flaig, who was the President of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party, a former Boone County Commissioner, and pro-life activist. She also challenged Gary Moore for County Judge-Executive in 2010. She is hitting Wuchner for voting for taxes. She has also been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul. This will probably be the highest turnout seat in Kentucky this year. A big vote for Flaig could be a good sign for Thomas Massie. Wuchner is not moderate at all though- she is being backed by former Sen. Jim Bunning, the NRA, and Kentucky Right to Life. This may be more of a race of style rather than substance.