A dozen races to be watching Tuesday night

05/18/2010 08:54 AM

More than 2.85 million Kentucky voters are eligible to go to the polls Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to vote.  The Secretary of State’s office, however, has predicted only about 30 percent of those will show up to decide the party nominations for candidates running from local offices up to U.S. Senate.

Here are 12 contests to keep an eye on tonight when the returns start rolling in:

  • The U.S. Senate primaries: The national media has rediscovered Kentucky lately through this primary. The Republican race, in which Rand Paul and Trey Grayson are slugging it out, has attracted the most attention. The Herald-Leader’s Jack Brammer has a good piece today highlighting the media interest. But the Democratic contest featuring front-runners Daniel Mongiardo and Jack Conway looks to be tight. And don’t underestimate the effect that Democratic candidates Darlene Price, Maurice Sweeney and James Buckmaster could have by siphoning votes away from the other two.
  • Congressional races: Only three of the six districts feature primaries. The two hardest being fought are the Republican side in the 3rd congressional district covering Louisville and the 6th congressional district of Central Kentucky. (Third race is the Democratic primary in the 5th congressional district, which has been low-key). In Louisville, four Republicans are vying for the nomination to take on two-term Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth. In Central Kentucky, attorney Andy Barr has raised the most money and run the most ads in a six-way primary there for the right to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler.
  • State Senate races: Both the Republican and Democratic primaries for the 34th state Senate seat, which is being vacated by retiring Democratic minority leader Sen. Ed Worley of Richmond, are wide open. Three candidates are running in each of them. The Herald-Leader’s Greg Kocher provided insight on both those races.  In the 22nd state Senate district’s Republican primary, long-time Sen. Tom Buford of Nicholasville is trying to fend off a challenge from Chad Crouch of Wilmore, who has criticized Buford for a campaign contribution to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and voting for a measure that would expand gambling. And in the 12th District, Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr has drawn a challenge from horse farm owner Andrew Roberts, who has criticized Kerr for not supporting measures that would allow slots at the race track.
  • State House races: In the Republican primaries, a handful of races have developed Tea Party movement vs. establishment candidate feels. One example is in Northern Kentucky’s 69th District, where Brett Gaspard has gotten the endorsement of U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul in his bid to unseat Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger. Koenig finds himself in a primary battle every year and each time ends up out-working his opponent. On the Democratic side, several incumbents have drawn tough races, including Rep. Ancel Smith in the 92nd District and Rep. Keith Hall in the 93rd District — both in Eastern Kentucky.
  • Mayoral races: Two Jims from Barren County are going all out to make it to general election in this non-partisan primary in Lexington. Mayor Jim Newberry and Vice Mayor Jim Gray, who grew up in the same southern Kentucky county, are vying for the two spots on the fall ballot with a former mayor, Teresa Isaac, and businessman Skip Horine. The Herald-Leader’s Andy Mead had a great overview piece on the race last week. In Louisville, Greg Fischer in the Democratic primary and Hal Heiner in the Republican primary had strong leads in the most recent poll. The Courier-Journal’s Dan Klepal had a complete look at how all the candidates spent the last weekend of the race.
  • Judge-Executive races: All three of the Republican primaries in the Northern Kentucky races have garnered a lot of attention. In Boone County, incumbent Gary Moore is challenged by County Commissioner Cathy Flaig. In Kenton County, the race between Scott Kimmich and Steve Arlinghaus has gotten rough. And in Campbell County’s also has been divisive between incumbent Steve Pendery and Kevin Sell, as the Kentucky Enquirer’s Amanda Van Benschoten reported last week.

– Ryan Alessi


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