Ag commissioner primary set for recanvass after 1,427-vote decision

05/21/2015 03:55 PM

State Rep. Richard Heath conceded that the result will likely remain, but the Mayfield Republican on Thursday asked for a recanvass in his 1,427-vote loss to Rep. Ryan Quarles in the GOP agriculture commissioner primary.

Heath’s filing marks the second recanvass request in as many days after Agriculture Commissioner James Comer wanted his 83-vote loss in the Republican gubernatorial primary double-checked.

Even though his margin of defeat is wider in terms of votes compared to Comer, Heath lost the primary by just 0.78 percent. Quarles’ 92,700 votes edged Heath’s 91,273 at the end of the primary.

“We’re not anticipating a change as far as switching who won the race,” Heath said in a phone interview with Pure Politics before he filed his recanvass request. “… My campaign manager and even my county clerk said, ‘Look, if James Comer’s going to have it done, it doesn’t cost any more time to do yours at the same time just for peace of mind.’”

Quarles, R-Georgetown, said he did not begrudge Heath for wanting another look at the vote total. Both said they discussed the matter on Election Night.

“I respect his decision to recanvass and want to congratulate him on a hard-fought race,” Quarles said in a phone interview with Pure Politics. “He ran a great campaign.”

Quarles and Heath said they will back the Republican nominee in the fall matchup with Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, who faced no primary opposition Tuesday.

“It’s important to note that we’re going to support each other,” said Quarles, who declined to speculate on the recanvass’ outcome. “… We didn’t run against each other. We both applied for the same job, and he’s an excellent candidate.”

Both also said they expect the GOP nominee to fare well against Lawson Spann in the Nov. 3 election.

Quarles noted both Republicans’ farming experience while Heath said he heard from several in the agricultural community who said they plan to vote for the GOP candidate regardless of the primary’s outcome.

“It’s not a foregone conclusion that the winner of this primary will be the winner in November, but I think the odds are very good,” Heath said. “Whoever the candidate is has got some work to do. They’re going to have to hit the campaign trail and get out there and earn it between now and November.”

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ office said the gubernatorial and agriculture commissioner recanvasses are set to begin 9 a.m. May 28.

“Integrity in our elections processes is crucial, and Kentuckians deserve to know that their votes are properly counted and tabulated,” Grimes said in a statement.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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