Ky. Senate Expectations: Both parties hope to pick up 1, maybe 2 seats if they're lucky

11/05/2012 08:53 PM

Democrats aren’t a threat to take control of the state Senate but have a chance to chip away at the GOP caucus’ 23-15 hold on the chamber by capturing one or two seats left open by Republicans.

But if it turns out to be the kind of night Republicans hope it to be, they could stretch their majority to its farthest point.

Top Tier:

37th District (Southern Jefferson County)
For the last two months, this has been the most competitive race. Democratic Sen. Perry Clark, who is running for his second full term, got off to a slow start campaigning wise. The Democratic Party has since bailed him out with tough ads against Republican Chris Thieneman, a developer and former University of Louisville football player. But for the last two weeks, the race has been more about Thieneman than Clark, which is rarely good news for the challenger. Thieneman’s residency is being questioned — a familiar issue in this district. Clark won the seat in a special election after a judge threw out Republican Dana Seum Stephenson’s win in 2004 because she hadn’t lived in the district for the required six years.

21st District (Estill, Jackson, Laurel, Menifee and Powell counties)
Democrats think they can pull a major upset in the heart of Republican territory thanks to the weakness of Republican nominee, Albert Robinson. The former senator is hampered by his past, most notably slipping in a provision to raise lawmaker’s pensions. The courts later threw out the provision ruling it virtually undecipherable.
Democrat Amie Hacker, a business owner from London, has been using the words of Robinson’s fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Dan Seum and Sen. Tom Jensen, who is vacating the seat to seek a judgeship. Still, the district has 46,485 Republicans to 26,777 registered Democrats.

1st District (Calloway, Carlisle, Graves, Fulton, Hickman, Lyon and Trigg counties)
In making his third bid for a state Senate seat since 2006, former Democratic Congressman Carroll Hubbard started out as better known than Republican Stan Humphries, the Trigg County judge-executive. But Hubbard, who was sentenced to three years in prison for federal campaign finance violations, has proven in past races to have a ceiling of support in the mid 40-percent range. Granted, those races have been against Republican incumbents. But with the presidential race providing strong headwinds for Democrats, it’s not going to be easy for Hubbard to pull it out.

Hubbard told Pure Politics the race is one last chance for redemption and an opportunity to bring his career full circle — back to the Senate where he first served in 1968. Humphries, meanwhile, said the race should be about the future, not the past. Here’s how they summed up their candidacies:

Potential Sleeper:

3rd District (Christian, Logan and Todd counties)
Some Democrats have become a bit concerned in recent weeks about the level of effort Sen. Joey Pendleton of Hopkinsville is putting into his bid for a sixth term. And Republicans think that a GOP wave driven by the presidential race could possibly propel a candidate like Whitney Westerfield. Westerfield is a Hopkinsville lawyer and former assistant commonwealth’s attorney.

Other Races:

23rd District (Northern Kenton Co.)
It’s an open seat race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jack Westwood. Republican Chris McDaniel, a Taylor Mill resident who runs a concrete company, is the heavy favorite against James Noll, a lawyer and Villa Hills councilman.

25th District (Clay, Knox, Lee, Magoffin, Morgan, Owsley and Wolfe counties.)
Sen. Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, is the heir apparent to the Senate presidency. But first, he has to defeat Ralph Hoskins, a former Jackson County Schools Superintendent.

17th District (Scott, Grant, Owen and southern Kenton Co.)
Republican Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown worked with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to try to pass a measure allowing casino gambling. So Democrats haven’t invested much in trying to beat Thayer. David Holcomb, who works for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, has run a limited campaign.

7th District (Anderson, Franklin and Woodford counties and part of Fayette)
Former Gov. Julian Carroll is expected to cruise tohis third consecutive term in the state Senate over Frank Haynes, a farmer and former inspector general of the Kentucky National Guard.

27th District (Boyd, Elliott, Fleming, Lawrence and Rowan counties)
Democratic Sen. Walter Blevins has served 30 years in the General Assembly, including the last 20 in the Senate and should win another four year term. He faces Republican Tony Downey, a special education teacher from Greenup County.

33rd District (Louisville)
Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal faces a challenge from Norris Shelton, a member of the Descendents of American Slaves party, which he founded.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.

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