An overview of Kentucky’s top races
Here is a look at some of Kentucky’s top races in Tuesday’s primary election, from the crowded Republican contest for governor at the top of the ticket to down-ballot races for statewide offices:
GOVERNOR: Four Republicans are making final pitches to voters in what’s shaping up as a close race to decide who will face all-but-certain Democratic nominee Jack Conway in November. The field of GOP candidates features Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, former Louisville metro councilman Hal Heiner, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin and former state Supreme Court justice Will T. Scott. What started out as a genial race touting conservative credentials turned ugly. Comer steadfastly denied allegations of abuse by a former college girlfriend as he tried to overcome any political damage. Comer and Bevin accused Heiner of letting a nonprofit group do his dirty work with attack ads. While Republicans slugged it out, Conway kept a low profile in cruising toward nomination. His opponent is little-known Geoff Young. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear cannot seek re-election due to term limits.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Republican primary is a two-way race between state Sen. Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville and Lawrence County Attorney Michael Hogan. The winner faces Andy Beshear, the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, in November. Andy Beshear is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Westerfield touts his Senate Judiciary Committee chairmanship and says he helped shape high-profile legislation to combat heroin addiction, revamp the state’s juvenile-justice system and allow victims of abusive dating relationships to seek emergency protective orders. Hogan promotes his legal background, from a stint as public defender to his long tenure as a prosecutor. Kentucky’s two-term attorney general, Democrat Jack Conway, is running for governor.
AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER: Two lawmakers with family roots in farming are competing for the GOP nomination. State Reps. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown and Richard Heath of Mayfield are touting their rural pedigrees while campaigning for the job of running the Department of Agriculture. The nominee will run in November against Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, who is unopposed in the primary. The current agriculture commissioner, James Comer, is running for the GOP nomination for governor.
SECRETARY OF STATE: In what’s shaping up as a mismatch, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes faces little-known Charles Lovett of Louisville in the Democratic primary. Grimes, seeking a second term, is back on the ballot a few months after her loss to now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in last year’s grueling Senate race. The Democratic nominee for secretary of state faces Republican Steve Knipper of Independence in November.
STATE TREASURER: It’s the most crowded race, with five Democrats and three Republicans competing for the job of balancing the state’s checkbook, collecting and returning unclaimed property and handling other financial duties. The lineup of Democrats features state Reps. Jim Glenn of Owensboro and Rick Nelson of Middlesboro; ex-lawmaker Richard Henderson of Mount Sterling; Louisville business executive Neville Blakemore and Louisville real estate agent Daniel Grossberg, who has ties to local and state Democratic politics. Republicans in the race are state Rep. Kenneth Imes of Murray, attorney Allison Ball of Prestonsburg and Lexington attorney Jon Larson. The incumbent state treasurer, Democrat Todd Hollenbach, can’t serve again because of term limits.