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Kentucky Primary: US Senate, House races among big decisions for voters

Here’s a summary of the Kentucky races and candidates on the 2020 primary election ballot.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Presidential primaries may top the ballot June 23, but there are several others races to be decided in Kentucky including party nominations for a U.S. Senate seat. Other contested races on the ballot include five U.S. House seats, 11 contested legislative primaries and a Kentucky Supreme Court seat. 

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Here’s a summary of the state offices and candidates on the ballot:

U.S. Senate:

Republicans: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has drawn six relatively unknown GOP challengers in his quest for a seventh term.

Democrats: Retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath of Lexington, who narrowly lost a U.S. House race in 2018, has raised the most money to challenge McConnell in the fall, but progressive state Rep. Charles Booker of Louisville has been gaining momentum recently with several key endorsements. Retired Marine Mike Broihier of Stanford is among eight other Democrats who filed to run.

U.S. House:

2nd District: Republican incumbent Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green, who describes himself as pro-life, pro-gun and pro-Trump, faces challenger Kathleen Free of Brandenburg.

3rd District: Three Republicans are vying for the chance to challenge Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth in the Louisville-area district. They are retired auto worker Mike Craven, entreprenuer and community activist Waymen Eddings and business owner Rhonda Palazzo.

4th District: Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, who drew Trump’s ire on coronavirus relief, faces a strong challenge from Covington attorney Todd McMurtry. It is his first contested primary since the former Lewis County judge-executive was elected in 2012. Two Democrats are running in the GOP-dominant district that spans parts of northern and central and eastern Kentucky: business consultant Shannon Fabert of Hebron and nurse practitioner Alexandra Owensby of Fort Thomas.

5th District: Republican incumbent Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, who took office in 1981, is being challenged by Gerardo Serrano, a firearms enthusiast who lives on a small farm in Jackson County.

6th District: Republican Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington took office in 2013 and fended off a close challenge from McGrath in 2018′s general election. He faces two GOP challengers: perennial candidate Geoff Young and moderate Chuck Eddy. Two Democrats, establishment-backed lawyer Josh Hicks and business analyst Daniel Kemph, will compete for the Democratic nomination.

State Legislature:

Nine House members are facing primary challenges, including Republican House Speaker David Osborne. Teacher Tiffany Dunn, who helped lead protests at the Capitol when former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin angered educators as he tried to revamp the public pension system, is running for the 54th District seat. Dunn, of Crestwood, says she is uniquely qualified to protect and improve public schools and says conservatism, common sense and civility are her core values.

Others facing challenges in the primary include:

— 26th District: Republican Rep. Russell Webber is challenged by businessman Paul Ham of Shepherdsville. Webber is chairman of the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee.

— 28th District: Longtime Democratic Rep. Charles Miller is challenged by Louisville native Ramona Jade Thomas, a working-class transgender woman.

— 30th District: Longtime Democratic Rep. Tom Burch is challenged by Daniel Grossberg, a Realtor who serves on the Jefferson County Commission and is president of the Louisville Young Democrats.

— 40th District: Freshman Democratic Rep. Nima Kulkarni is challenged by former lawmaker Dennis Horlander, who held the seat in Louisville for 21 years before Kulkarni defeated him in 2018.

— 50th District: Republican Rep. Chad McCoy is challenged by Donald Thrasher, who serves as chairman for the Republican Party of Nelson County. McCoy is a member of House GOP leadership as majority whip.

— 52nd District: Longtime Republican Rep. Ken Upchurch is challenged by Monticello attorney Rhett Ramsey. Upchurch is House Transportation Committee chairman.

— 71st District: Freshman Republican Rep. Travis Brenda is challenged by Josh Bray, the city administrator of Mount Vernon. Brenda upset powerful state Rep. Jonathan Shell in the 2018 GOP primary.

— 82nd District: Republican Rep. Regina Huff is challenged again by Corbin teacher Matt Anderson. Huff is House Education Committee chairwoman and defeated Anderson in the 2018 primary.

Two senators face primary challenges. In the 15th District, Republican Sen. Rick Girdler is challenged by former pastor Larry Sears Nichols of Eubank. In the 21st District, longtime Republican Sen. Albert Robinson has two challengers — attorney Kay Hensley and attorney Brandon Jackson Storm, both of London.

Supreme Court:

Three candidates are running for the 7th District seat in eastern Kentucky: incumbent Justice Sam Wright, Democratic state Rep. Chris Harris and 20th Circuit Court Judge Robert B. Conley. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election.


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all state registered voters were deemed eligible to submit an absentee ballot, which must be postmarked by June 23. Some counties have said they won’t post results on election night but will announce them by June 30. A limited number of polling places were open for voters who wanted to cast ballots early or on Election Day.

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