Kentucky voters settle who’ll be the Democratic and Republican nominees in the November general election during the primary on Tuesday. Many primary races in Louisville won’t be especially competitive, but a handful are worth watching.
Here are the races to watch in Louisville.
Matt Bevin vs. Mitch McConnell: Believe it or not, when Louisville investor Matt Bevin first jumped in the Senate Republican primary race last summer there was talk of a possible upset.
Then the Mitch McConnell wrecking machine of relentless attacks hit Bevin—hard.
Even with the backing of Kentucky’s Tea Party groups and activists, along with big name conservatives from outside the state, Bevin’s flaws as a first-time candidate were accentuated.
The thinking is that McConnell will easily win the GOP nomination on Tuesday, but watch for how well Bevin performs. It should be interesting to see how Bevin does in Louisville and what, if any, counties he wins in the rest of the state and by how much.
Turnout is expected to be about 30 percent and Bevin’s core supporters are energized. They’re not listening to the prognosticators.
Recent polling shows the race is tightening with Bevin trailing by 20 points. The better Bevin performs above the 35 percent margin the worse it looks for McConnell.
Alison Lundergan Grimes Coronation: Primary election night is going to be victory lap for Grimes mostly.
Running against little-known Democrats Greg Leichty, Tom Recktenwald, and Burrell Charles Farnsley, Grimes has been on a 50-county jobs tour across Western Kentucky building enthusiasm as her national profile—and fundraising prowess—grows.
There’s no doubting that Grimes brings energy to the campaign trail. She’s tied with McConnell in the polls, she is raising the money to compete, and she’s launched her first TV ad to introduce herself to voters.
But the general election provides a new set of challenges that Grimes has been able to avoid thanks to the GOP primary.
Louisville Metro Council District 1: Local elections may lack the TV airtime or profile of the U.S. Senate race, but they’re filled with telling narratives as well.
The primary battle between incumbent Attica Scott and challenger Jessica Green is expected to be close, and it has turned into an ugly spat in the final days.
Green, the daughter of late Councilwoman Judy Green, sent out a series of mailers blasting Scott for supporting an art mural, opposing the West End Walmart and lobbying for “illegal immigrants” out of state.
Joined by fellow council Democrats and supporters, Scott shot back, saying the negative ads were dishonest at best. Even some Green supporters thought the mailers crossed the line.
Green has avoided rehashing her mother’s ethics trial—which resulted in Judy Green’s removal—but at the same time this vote is being cast as sending City Hall a message for what many still believe was an unfair treatment of Green’s mother.
It also doesn’t hurt that the majority of District 1 voted for someone else over Scott—who the council appointed to the seat—two years ago.
During that 2012 special election Scott received 48 percent of the vote against four opponents.
Louisville Metro Council District 9: When more than a dozen people decided to run for retiring Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh’s seat it presented voters and media with a daunting task.
The Democratic primary for District 9, which includes parts of the Highlands and Crescent Hill area, has been an inter-personal soap opera overlapping candidates’ inner circles, donors, and neighborhood groups.
For now the Democratic contest has been measured by money, which would give candidates J.P. Davis, Bill Hollander, and Chris Hartley an edge. But council races are determined by shoe leather and personal connection as much as anything else.
That’s where contenders like Mike Brooks, Mollie Younger, Better Nieme, Jonathan Musselwhite, and others are hoping to jump ahead. Those with less money are stressing how Ward-Pugh’s independent streak needs to be maintained, especially from Mayor Greg Fischer—who endorsed Hollander—and wealthy donors who are giving to their opponents.
Whoever wins the 13-person contest will face Republican Laura Rice in the fall.
County Attorney: The question of the Jefferson County Attorney’s race has been whether bad experience trumps relative inexperience.
Political newcomer Karen Faulkner, a former public defender now in private practice, is challenging incumbent Mike O’Connell.
It appears the only knock against Faulkner by observers she is a 33-year-old attorney who graduated from law school in the past decade.
That narrative was encapsulated by The Courier-Journal’s odd endorsement of O’Connell. In it the newspaper knocked O’Connell for having an uneven temperament, picking “needless fights” with judges, alienating defense attorneys, and perpetuating patronage politics by collecting campaign donations from his staff.
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