2016 candidate filing update: Candidates make challenges official with deadline looming

01/17/2016 07:30 AM

With the filing deadline for May primaries soon approaching, both Democrats and Republicans are flooding into Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’s office to mount challenges to incumbents and seek open seats.

Contenders for the open 1st Congressional District race have been busy filing their candidacy paperwork, but most of the filing action has been taking place in the state House, where more primaries are developing.

U.S. representative

1st district — Candidates are beginning to submit paperwork to officially file in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield who announced in September that he would not seek another term in office.

Democrat Samuel Gaskins, a Marine and Army veteran, submitted his paperwork at the end of last year to be considered for the post.

The GOP primary is where most of the wrangling has been occurring in the 1st Congressional District. Miles Caughey of Herndon became the first of the bunch to file for office just before the New Year.

On Wednesday, former Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts filed for the Republican primary.

3rd district — Republican Robert DeVore Jr. filed on Wednesday for the primary hoping to challenge current Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth in a general election.

DeVore has run for multiple posts in the past, running for Congress in 2008 in the Republican primary against former Congresswoman Anne Northup, where he garnered 713 votes.

5th district — Longtime U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, is facing a primary challenger. Somerset Republican John Burk Jr. filed paperwork to challenge Rogers last week.

Rogers is seeking a 19th term in office, serving in Congress since 1981.

State House of Representatives

2nd district — Democrat Jesse Wright, of Mayfield, filed Dec. 22 for the western House seat. If Wright clears the primary, he will likely take on Republican Rep. Richard Heath, who has served two terms in the legislature.

Wright is an attorney and co-owner of Kemp & Wright PLLC and he has already faced Heath once in a general election, losing by nearly 3,000 votes in 2014.

The 2nd District includes all of Graves and part of McCracken County.

5th district — Democrat David Ramey, of Murray, could face off against Republican Rep. Kenny Imes in a general election. Imes returned to the state House in 2012 and most recently sought the office of state treasurer in 2015.

The 5th District is comprised of Calloway County and part of Trigg County.

6th district — Republican Paula Rush Robinson, of Benton, will seek the Republican nomination for the post. Robinson is a school teacher in Marshall County, where she’s taught for the past 23 years.

Democratic Rep. Will Coursey of Symsonia has held the seat since 2008.

The district is comprised of Lyon and Marshall counties and part of McCracken County.

8th district — Republican Walker Thomas, of Hopkinsville, has filed for the 8th House District seat. The post is currently open after former Democratic Rep. John Tilley accepted a post as secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Thomas is the GOP nominee for the March 8 special election for to replace Tilley, but whoever wins will only serve the remainder of Tilley’s term and will be up for re-election in November.

Jeff Taylor, the Democratic nominee for the special election on March 8, also filed for the seat on Friday.

The district is comprised of part of Christian County and part of Trigg County.

10th district — Republican TW Shortt, of Radcliff, is seeking the Republican nomination to take on first-term Democratic Rep. Dean Schamore, of Hardinsburg.

The 10th district encompasses part of Hardin County and all of Breckinridge and Hancock counties.

13th district — Republican DJ Johnson is hoping to be the the GOP nominee to edge out Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Glenn, of Owensboro.

Johnson is a business manager of a local car wash company, according to the Owensboro Messenger Inquirer. The GOP has thrown a bevy of well-known Owensboro candidates at Glenn in the past several cycles, but Glenn has manged to cling to political life.

The 2014 cycle marked Glenn’s largest re-election victory with a 545-vote margin. The previous two cycles had much slimmer results with a 251-vote margin in 2012 and a 206-vote margin in 2010.

16th district — Republican Ami Brooks, of Russellville, has filed for the GOP primary in the 16th district which encompasses Logan and Todd counties and part of Warren County.

Brooks is a lawyer with a license to practice in both Kentucky and Tennessee, according to the Logan County Journal.

Democratic Rep. Martha Jane King, of Lewisburg, has held the seat since 2009.

23rd district — Two Republicans have filed for the GOP primary in the district which includes Barren County and part of Warren County.

Steve Riley and Freddie Wilkerson, both of Glasgow, filed paperwork for the House seat. Riley is retired school principal, and Wilkerson is retired from the Kentucky Army National Guard as well as an ROTC instructor at Barren County High School — the same school that Riley retired from last year, according to the Glasgow Daily Times.

House Majority Whip Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, has represented the seat since 2007.

24th district — There’s another GOP primary brewing in the 24th House District, where two members of the Republican Party are set to fight it out to take on a Democratic incumbent.

Richard Treitz, of Greensburg, and William Reed, of Hodgenville, filed for the seat this week. Treitz ran for the post in a GOP primary in 2014, losing to J. Alex Larue by 234 votes.

Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon, has represented the district which is comprised of Green,
Larue and Marion counties since 2010.

31st district — Republican Sarah Provancher of Louisville has filed for the seat which has been held by Democratic Rep. Steve Riggs since 1991.

Provancher is the president of a Louisville public relations and marketing firm.

37th district — Republican Mark Wilson has again filed to take on Rep. Jeff Donohue. Wilson filed in 2014 but ended up dropping out of the race before the general election because he was called into active duty.

Wilson is now retired from the Kentucky National Guard, where he served for 22 years.

38th district — Democrat McKenzie Cantrell, an attorney with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center and an Emerge Kentucky member, has filed to take on former Democrat and now Republican Rep. Denny Butler in the southwestern Louisville district.

In a phone interview, Cantrell said she was honored to be considered for the post, saying she would advocate for working families in Frankfort if elected.

Earlier this year Butler told Pure Politics that he has some “very disappointed” constituents in the district after he changed his registration from Democrat to Republican, but he says he’s tried to explain the decision to them.

45th district — Democrat Pam Sigler has filed to take on House Minority Caucus Chairman Stan Lee in the Lexington based district.

Lee, R-Lexington, has served in the House since 2001.

46th district — Republican Eric Crump has joined the GOP primary for the soon-to-be-open House seat. As Pure Politics has previously reported Louisville Republican Bill Dudley filed paperwork to seek the seat that has been held by retiring lawmaker Rep. Larry Clark.

Clark endorsed Democrat Alan Gentry, a self-employed businessman and entrepreneur, in the race to replace him. Clark, D-Louisville, has represented the district for 31 years.

47th district — Republican Shawn Mertz, of Pleasureville, filed for the GOP primary. Mertz is an EMT and Firefighter.

According to a story by the Frankfort State Journal, Mertz met with Rep. Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, who chairs the House GOP’s campaign committee, and Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown about filing for the seat.

The district includes Carroll, Gallatin, Henry and Trimble counties and is represented by Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford.

48th district — Former Louisville Metro Councilman Ken Fleming has filed for the Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Bob DeWeese of Louisville.

“Being away from representing people in government has helped deepen my desire to make a difference,” Fleming said in a statement. “With Representative Dr. DeWeese’s retirement, this opportunity has presented itself to allow me to get back to what I truly enjoy, serving people and all of Kentuckians.”

54th district — Democrat Bill Noelker has filled for the post he is currently seeking as the Democratic nominee in a simultaneous special election to be held March 8. Republican special election nominee Daniel Elliott has also officially filed for the fall election.

Previously, Danville Republican Steve Evans had filed for the open seat held by Auditor Mike Harmon. Evans is the Madison County Schools’ district assessment coordinator.

The district includes Boyle and Casey counties.

58th district — Democrat Cyndi Powell Skellie, of Shelbyville, has filed to run for the soon-to-be-open House seat. Skellie is a Shelby County school teacher.

Republican Rob Rothenburger, of Shelbyville, previously filed to run in the GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, who will complete his seventh term in office in 2016.

Rothenburger has served as the Shelby County judge-executive since 2003 — the same year Montell began representing the district in Frankfort.

61st district — Democrat Kevin Napier, of Georgetown, has filed to enter the Democratic primary. If Napier moves on he could challenge incumbent Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge.

The district features part of Boone, Kenton and Scott counties and all of Grant County.

62nd district — This race is another spill over from the series of four March 8 special elections. Candidates have been tapped to run in the special election, but they will have to run again to hold the seat after November.

Vying to replace Ryan Quarles, who is now the agriculture commissioner, will be Democratic nominee in the special election Chuck Tackett, who ran against Quarles in 2014. Tackett is a lifelong farmer who was handpicked to enter the 2014 race by former Gov. Steve Beshear.

Republican special election nominee Phillip Pratt has also filed for the November election. However, at the same time Pratt vies to represent the district for the remainder of Quarles’ term, he will also have to face a May primary against Mike Bradley.

The 62nd House District encompasses part of Fayette, Owen, and part of Scott counties.

64th district — Democrat Larry Varney, of Cold Springs, has submitted his paperwork to enter the race this week.

If he clears the Democratic primary, Varney could take on Rep. Tom Kerr, of Taylor Mill, who has held the seat since 1985.

The district feature parts of Campbell and Kenton counties.

69th district — Incumbent Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, has drawn a GOP primary from Danny Seifried, of Florence.

Seifried is relatively unknown to politics, but his brother Matthew Seifried worked on the campaign of Gov. Matt Bevin as a scheduler. Danny Seifried currently sits on the board of Notre Dame Urban Education Center, a non-profit organization that acts as an after-school program for the inner-city children in Covington.

Koenig has held the seat since 2007. The district is comprised of part of Boone and Kenton counties.

70th district — In the 70th House District, two Republicans have filed to pick up the seat that will soon come open after Rep. Mike Denham, D-Maysville, retires at the end of this term.

Republicans James Johnson, of Brooksville, and John VanMeter, of Maysville, have filed for the GOP primary to pick up the seat that has been held by the Democrat since 2001.

The district is comprised of all of Bracken, Fleming, Mason and Robertson counties.

73rd district — There will now be a primary for both Democrats and Republicans to represent the district.

Democrat John Hendricks has filed to face off against Kenneth Blair in the Democratic primary in the 73rd House District that includes Clark County and portion of Madison County.

Winchester Republican Les Yates has also filed in a primary challenge to Rep. Donna Mayfield, of Winchester. Yates formerly hosted “Les Talk Radio” on WSKV radio and is the owner of a local business.

79th district — Lexington Republican Ken Kearns has filed to enter the GOP primary. If Kearns can move on to the general election, he could face incumbent Rep. Susan Westrom a second time.

Kearns previously challenged Westrom, D-Lexington, in 2014 in the general election losing by more than 3,000 votes.

84th district — Democratic Rep. Fitz Steele, of Hazard, will face a Democratic primary and potentially a GOP opponent if he can move on to the general election.

Democrat Kenneth Hall of Hazard filed for the post. Hall is known in law enforcement and education circles in the area and tells the Hazard Herald that it’s his love of the region that made him file for the post.

Republican Johnnie Turner, of Harlan, has also filed for the seat. The district includes all of Perry County and part of Harlan County.

93rd district — First-term incumbent Chris Harris will be facing a challenger in 2016. Republican Norma Kirk-McCormick, of Inez, is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Harris, who knocked off former Rep. Keith Hall in a Democratic primary in 2014.

The district includes all of Martin County and part of Pike County.

94th district — Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs will also face a challenger in 2016.

Republican Wesley Doughman, of Isom, has filed to enter the race this week. Doughman is a former probation and parole officer.

The district encompasses all of Letcher County and part of Pike County.

98th district — The 98th House District will also be holding a March 8 special election to replace former Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore, who accepted a position as an administrative law judge.

Democratic special election nominee Lew Nichols of Greenup has filed for the November election. Her GOP special election counterpart Tony Quillen, of Greenup, has not yet filed for the fall election.

99th district — Two Republicans have filed for the GOP primary to take on House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, of Sandy Hook.

Wynetta “Wendy” Fletcher, who is a nurse practitioner who serves as president of the Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwives, recently took part in the Kentucky Strong program, an effort aimed at training Republican women to run for public office.

Republican Randy Smith, a Clearfield pastor, will face Fletcher in the GOP primary.

The district include Elliott, Lewis and Rowan counties.

State Senate

15th district — There are now three candidates filed for the GOP primary for the 15th Senate District.

Joshua Nichols, of Somerset, joined, Michael Keck, Rick Girdler and Don Moss in the primary to replace outgoing Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset. The district encompasses Boyle, Lincoln and Pulaski counties.

Previous filing updates can be found here, here, and here.

Candidates have until 4 p.m. Jan. 26 to file for this year’s elections.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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