The three big races to watch during Tuesday's primary

05/16/2016 07:42 PM

Kentuckians across the commonwealth have the opportunity to cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary contests to pick their nominees for the fall elections.

This year the national spotlight is shining on Kentucky as the presidential candidates are fighting to control the state’s 61 delegates at the national convention in Philadelphia.

Democratic Presidential Primary

As Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont fight for the commonwealth, watch to see how many delegates they can grab, and how many “uncommitted” ballots are cast.

Geography could also be interesting to pay attention to as Democrats competing in the 31st state Senate Dist. primary in the eastern portion of the state seek distance from Clinton, and what’s been viewed as anti-coal comments on the campaign trail.

With control of the state House still up for grabs this fall, the winner of the Democratic presidential nomination, and their policies, will almost certainly be tied to any Democratic candidate appearing on the ballot in November.

Clinton leads Sanders in overall pledge delegates and is close to putting the race out of reach, but Sanders has won in neighboring states including West Virginia and Indiana.

U.S. Senate Democratic Primary

Six is the number of Democratic U.S. Senate candidates competing in the race, though Democratic voters will actually find seven names on the ballot after Grant Short ended his campaign after qualifying for the race, but was not removed from the ballot.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray leads all candidates in fundraising and is seen as the front-runner with some name identification from his time in office, and the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Gray needs a strong showing on Tuesday to show donors the Democratic Party faithful are behind him before a potential match up in the fall with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

Former Frankfort City Commissioner Sellus Wilder has earned the praise of environmental groups and noted poet and author Wendell Berry in the Democratic contest, and has been courting the independents in the Bernie Sanders campaign. Wilder is seeking to prove progressive ideals can win in the bluegrass state.

Former Green Beret medic Ron Leach has also been campaigning hard for the Democratic nomination. Leach has competed before for federal office in Kentucky, and knows the issues that the state faces, but like Wilder, Leach faces an issue with campaign cash that’s needed to compete in statewide elections.

Also competing in the primary is Rory Houlihan, of Winchester; Jeff Kender, of Phelps; and Tom Recktenwald, of Louisville.

1st Dist. GOP Congressional Primary

There are four Republicans seeking the nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, in the 1st Congressional District in West Kentucky.

The candidates have all sought to present themselves as anti-establishment outsiders in the GOP primary.

Vying for the seat is former Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who barely lost the GOP gubernatorial nomination last year; Mike Pape who is Whitfield’s district director; Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts; and Miles Caughey.

Complicating the race are predictions for a low turnout primary for Republicans because of the March GOP presidential caucus. Overall turnout estimates have been set at 20 percent by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes as absentee ballots lag, especially on the Republican side of the aisle.

Depending on where you live there are also a handful of highly contested legislative primaries. Click on the link for the full list of the most interesting legislative races on Tuesday.

Pure Politics begins live election night coverage starting at 7:00 pm eastern time on Tuesday.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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