PRIMARY 2018 | House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell, two other GOP incumbents lose primary battles

05/22/2018 10:42 PM

With a slim loss in the 71st House District Republican primary House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell lost a stunning race as his GOP opponent, a teacher running on largely Democratic education talking points pulled out a victory.

R. Travis Brenda, a teacher from Berea, defeated Shell by 123 votes, less than 2 percentage points, despite being heavily outspent. Brenda has raised $16,126 for the campaign, according to a finance report filed 15 days before the election. Shell raised a whopping $131,243 for the election. Outside groups also played big as unions rushed in to support Brenda.

Shell never went negative in this race, even as outside groups hammered him, insiders say.

Democrats pointed to the district as proof of their energy heading into the fall general elections.

“The primary results tonight show Kentuckians are energized. The fact that Republican incumbents such as former House Floor Leader Rep. Jonathan Shell and others were unseated tonight shows Kentuckians are ready for the change we need in our state,” Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self said.

“The war on public education and the working class, the backroom deals on public pensions and the rhetoric in Frankfort has finally caught up with Gov. Matt Bevin and his Republican majority in Frankfort,” Self continued. “The positive momentum for change will only increase as we move toward November. With their votes, Kentuckians will let the outside corporate donors know our state is not for sale.”

Meanwhile, Republicans feel like they remain strong across the state as they seek to protect their super majority in the state House.

“The 71st House District is and remains a strong Republican district and we look forward to working with Travis Brenda as he moves towards victory in November,” said RPK Executive Director Sarah VanWallaghen. “We are forever indebted to Jonathan Shell for the role he played in flipping the House in 2016 and we know we have not seen the last of him in Kentucky politics.”

In addition to Shell, GOP incumbent Reps. Tim Couch, of Hyden, and Wesley Morgan, of Richmond, also lost their re-election contests.

On the Democratic side Rep. Dennis Horlander, D-Louisville, lost his re-election in south west Louisville to Nima Kulkarni, an immigration attorney and Emerge Kentucky graduate.


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