Could new legislative district maps spark an outbreak of primary fever?

08/19/2013 10:52 PM

Much of the political buzz over the newly proposed state House district map has been about the four districts that would pit pairs of incumbents against each other in the 2014 primaries if all of them decide to run again.

The spectacle of incumbent versus incumbent is about as rare as a comet sighting, happening only every decade or so after redistricting.

But those four districts might not be the only ones that could spell trouble for an incumbent in the next primary election.

For instance, here are other lawmakers whose districts are redrawn in such a way that could leave them vulnerable to an intra-party challenge from another part of the district:

Rep. Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster: 71st District (Garrard and Rockcastle and northern Laurel counties) — Shell is a freshman lawmaker who would avoid getting pitted against another incumbent as previous drafts of the map called for. Plus, he now has a solid Republican House district in which to run. But Shell hails from Garrard County, which has about 1,800 fewer voters than Rockcastle County. And he lives an hour drive from the Laurel County precincts that would be put into the district.

Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown: 18th District (Grayson County and part of Hardin County) — While Moore has been in the legislature since 2007, he would have to introduce himself to voters of Grayson County for the first time. And that county boasts more than 10,000 Republican voters — a solid base for a primary challenger.

*Rep. Mike Harmon*i, a Boyle County Republican: 54th District (Boyle and Casey counties). Harmon might be one of the big winners in redistricting if he wins the primary. Casey County actually boasts slightly more Republicans than in Boyle County.

“Those and some others on the map certainly look like they could be open to primary challenges,” said Republican Rep. Bam Carney, the GOP whip. “I’m sure there’s some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle — the Democratic side of the aisle — who may very well have districts that may be a little more open to primaries, too.”

Among Democrats, aside from the four incumbents pitted against each other, most districts changed along the margins. They maybe added additional precincts in counties or new precincts in adjacent counties. Very few switched full counties.

For that party, the drama will be over how the two pairs of incumbents who are put together handle it.

For now, Rep. Hubie Collins of Johnson County and Rep. John Will Stacy of Morgan County say they plan to go against each other in the Democratic primary for a 97th District that would encompass Johnson, Morgan and Wolfe counties. Collins, who currently represents the 97th District, has repeatedly won Johnson County in general elections even though a majority of voters are Republican. But Morgan County has the most Democrats, giving Stacy an advantage on paper in a primary.

Here’s what Stacy and Collins have said:

And both Democratic Floor Leader Rocky Adkins of Catlettsburg and Rep. Kevin Sinnette of Ashland have been put into the 100th District covering most of Boyd County. Both said they’re still looking at their options.

One of the four Democrats could move to an open seat — the 99th District. It covers Lewis, Rowan and Elliott counties.

Adkins, whose current district is the 99th, is originally from Elliot County and lived in Sandy Hook before moving to Catlettsburg. And Stacy currently represents Rowan County now as part of his district, which is the currently numbered the 71st.

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