Primary elections result in close presidential primary and losses for some state incumbents

Kentucky’s primary elections Tuesday saw an extremely close race in the Democratic presidential primary with Hillary Clinton winning by only 2,000 votes, splitting the state’s delegates between Clinton and Bernie Sanders. On the statewide level, two incumbent members of the Kentucky state House of Representatives were defeated in their primary races while others managed to hold on.

State House

With another competitive election ahead in November where the parties will battle it out for control of the state House, Tuesday’s primary elections set the playing field for what’s to come.

Most of the incumbents with an opponent from their own party were successful but in Louisville, two incumbent members were defeated in their primary races.

In Louisville’s 33rd House district, incumbent Republican Ron Crimm lost the seat he has held for 19 years to Republican political operative Jason Nemes, the son of former state Rep. Mike Nemes who is currently serving as deputy labor secretary in the Bevin administration.

Nemes defeated Crimm by 523 votes, giving him 51% of the vote compared to the 34% garnered by Crimm and 14% for Andrew Schachter, the third candidate in the race. Nemes will go on to face Democrat Rob Walker in the general election in November.

Over in west Louisville’s 41st House district, former Louisville Metro Council member Attica Scott upset incumbent Rep. Tom Riner in the Democratic primary. Scott received almost 1,500 votes more than Riner and will not face a challenge in November unless an Independent files to run in the district as there was no Republican in the race.

In other primary races with incumbent legislators, all candidates endorsed by the Kentucky Chamber won re-election Tuesday evening. Those races which the Chamber got involved because the candidate did not face a challenge in the General Election in November, included Rep. Jonathan Shell in the 71st district, Rep. Russell Webber in the 26th district, and Rep. Adam Koenig in the 69th district (Koenig’s opponent was disqualified from the race days before the primary election).

Other members of the House won their primary elections and will go on to face challengers in November, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo and many others.

There will also be many open seats up for grabs in the fall as there are 8 retiring legislators.

State Senate

With the retirement of Sen. Chris Girdler of the 15th district, a four way Republican primary ended in the victory of Rick Girdler, the uncle of retiring Senate Chris Girdler. Rick Girdler defeated fellow GOP candidates Michael Keck, Don Moss and Joshua Nichols and will take office in January, barring an Independent candidate challenge.

In other state Senate races, incumbent candidates including Senate Democratic Minority Leader Ray Jones, Senate Democratic Minority Caucus Chair Gerald Neal, Sen. John Shickel, and Sen. Albert Robinson all defeated their primary challengers Tuesday.

Congressional Races

In the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate race, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray easily held off many of his fellow Democrats in that race and will go on to face Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in November. Gray pulled in 58% of the vote Tuesday night with the closest of the other six Democrats in the race being former Frankfort city commission member Sellus Wilder.

Former Agriculture Commissioner James Comer was victorious in the 1st Congressional district Republican primary, the only open seat at the federal level as U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield is retiring this year. Comer won the four way Republican primary against Rep. Whitfield’s Field Director Mike Pape, Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts, and Miles Caughey. Comer will face Democratic challenger Sam Gaskins in November in the heavily Republican district.

All other members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, including U.S. Reps. Brett Guthrie, Hal Rogers, John Yarmuth, Andy Barr, and Thomas Massie, all easily won their re-election races.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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