Primary elections: who won, and what does it mean?

Published 1:02 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Hundreds of races were decided Tuesday night, from Kentucky’s congressional representatives to state legislators.

Many will now move on to face opponents of the other political party in the November general election, but some who lack general opponents have already secured their seats.

Presidential race

On the top of the ballot, President Joe Biden won the Democratic primary with 71% of the vote. However, a significant 18% of Kentucky voters chose “uncommitted.”

In recent protests on college campuses and elsewhere, pro-Palestine organizers have encouraged attendees to vote uncommitted to show Biden that he has to earn their vote. Biden is staunchly pro-Israel, and has largely supported them in the war in Gaza.

Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips fell short, with 6% and 5% of the vote, respectively.

On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump won in a landslide with 85% of the vote. Nikki Haley took second with only 6% of the vote.

Congressional races

Tuesday night was a win for Kentucky’s congressional incumbents. The three U.S. Representatives facing primary challengers—Morgan McGarvey, Thomas Massie and Hal Rogers—won their primaries by double-digit margins.

In the second Congressional district, Democrat Hank Linderman beat William Compton, and will face Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie in the general election.

In the third Congressional district, Republican Mike Craven bested Denny Ormerod with a 50-point margin. Craven will face Democrat U.S. Rep. McGarvey in November.

U.S. Rep. Massie faces no general opponents in the fourth Congressional district after easily defeating Republicans Michael McGinnis and Eric Deters. Rep. Rogers also lacks a Democratic opponent in the fifth district.

In the sixth district. Democrat Randy Cravens narrowly edged out Todd Kelly and Shauna Rudd for his party’s spot in the general election against Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr.

State legislative races

While most of the top ballot races had predictable outcomes, there were a few surprises in the state house and state senate election results.

Of the 25 incumbents facing primary opposition, 22 won their races.

That includes several so-called “Liberty” candidates, who have been censured in recent legislative sessions for speaking out against Republican leadership. Liberty candidates are a difficult to define group that are often anti-establishment, strict constitutionalist Republicans who support Trump.

Liberty Republican Reps. Savannah Maddox, Candy Massaroni, Steve Doan, Josh Calloway and Marianne Proctor won their primaries with significant vote margins.

Their victories come despite significant campaign funding supporting their opponents from political action committees from groups like the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Hospital Association and teachers unions.

However, Liberty-adjacent Sen. Adrienne Southworth lost her re-election bid to Republican Aaron Reed. Reed bested Ed Gallrein by one percentage point, but secured a 17-point margin against Southworth.

Southworth has angered members of her party for a myriad of votes against party lines based on her unique constitutional principles.

The race was expensive, with Reed raising $132,000, Gallrein raising $181,000 and Southworth raising $56,000.

Gallrein earned financial support from the Kentucky Chamber PAC, the Kentucky Hospital Association PAC,  Senate leadership and Secretary of State Michael Adams, but it wasn’t enough to fend off Reed.

In the state House, Rep. Richard Heath came just short to Republican Kimberly Holloway and lost his district 2 seat with only 48% of the vote.

Finally, Republican Rep. Killian Timoney lost to political newcomer Thomas Jefferson in a race largely surrounding Timoney’s votes against two anti-trans bills, against Republican party lines.

In the 41st house district, former state legislator Mary Lou Marzian took the first step to get back her old seat. After redistricting, Marzian was drawn into the same house district as Rep. Josie Raymond, and chose to let Raymond have the seat. Now, Raymond is moving to Louisville Metro Council, leaving the seat open again. After defeating William Adams, Marzian will face a Republican general opponent.

One race won’t be officially decided for at least several weeks. In the 40th house district, Democratic Rep. Nima Kulkarni won 78% of the vote against Democratic challenger William Zeitz.

However, Kulkarni was disqualified from the contest by a state court of appeals last week.During the candidate filing process, Kulkarni failed to get the signatures of two Democratic voters in her district. One was a registered Republican at the time, but has since switched parties.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the case for June 6.

A few open seats were up for grabs, as well.

In the 17th state senate district, Republican Matt Nunn bested Julia Jaddock. The district was vacated by Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer. Nunn will face a Democrat general election opponent.

In the 24th state house district, open after Rep. Brandon Reed’s departure, Republican Ryan Bivens secured his party’s spot in a general election.

Democrat Timothy Findley and Republican Chris Lewis won their respective primaries in the hotly contested 29th house district, open after Rep. Kevin Bratcher’s move to Louisville Metro Council. Findley barely edged out Matthew Pfaadt, while Lewis enjoyed a much wider vote margin.

Current district 42 Rep. Katurah Herron decided to move to the state senate, and Democrat Joshua Watkins will take her seat after winning his three-way primary.

Democrat Erika Hancock will face a Republican opponent in November for retiring Democratic Rep. Derrick Graham’s district 57 seat.

In district 62, left vacant by outgoing Rep. Phillip Pratt, Republican Tony Hampton won his party’s primary and faces a general election challenger.

T.J. Roberts moves on to the general election after beating Republican Ed Massey in the northern Kentucky 66th district after a hotly contested race.

Another retirement in district 76 by Democratic Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo left her seat open. Her son, Jamie Palumbo, narrowly lost the contest to Anne Donworth.