FRANKFORT, Ky. — Incumbent lawmakers will compete against each other in primaries for three Kentucky House seats as candidate lineups for federal and state offices were finalized Tuesday — unless newly Republican-drawn redistricting maps are blocked in court.
Nearly 700 Kentucky candidates stepped forward to run for seats in Congress and the legislature and for an array of judgeships this year, Secretary of State Michael Adams’ office said.
“We’re gratified that, despite the unique pressures candidates and officeholders face in these troubled times, so many Kentuckians across the political spectrum have offered themselves for public service,” Adams said in a statement after the candidate filing deadline.
The deadline was pushed back to Tuesday to give Kentuckians time to ponder whether to run in new districts crafted by the General Assembly. The once-a-decade map-making work stemmed from population changes reflected in the latest census.
Eastern and western Kentucky generally lost population, while central and northern sections gained residents.
New state House boundaries set up primary contests among two sets of Republican incumbents placed in the same districts and one set of Democratic representatives.
Two GOP House incumbents from eastern Kentucky — Reps. Norma Kirk-McCormick and Bobby McCool — will square off in the primary for one House seat. The same applies for two Republican lawmakers placed in the same western Kentucky district — Reps. Lynn Bechler and Jim Gooch Jr.
Two other Louisville Democrats — Reps. Lisa Willner and McKenzie Cantrell — also were placed in the same district, but Cantrell decided to run for a seat on the state Court of Appeals. Willner is running for another House term.
Kentucky’s new congressional and state House maps have drawn a court challenge. The lawsuit — filed last week — claims the boundaries reflect “extreme partisan gerrymandering” in violation of the state constitution. Republican legislative leaders say the new maps meet legal requirements.
A recently filed bill would push back this year’s Kentucky primary — a backup plan in case the redistricting maps get bogged down in court. The measure would delay the primary until Aug. 2 and would set a new filing deadline for candidates on May 31. The primary is currently set for May 17.
All five of the state’s Republican congressmen filed for reelection. The lone open seat is in the Louisville-area 3rd District, where Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth decided not to seek another term. State Sen. Morgan McGarvey, the chamber’s top-ranking Democrat, and Democratic state Rep. Attica Scott will face off in the primary. Several Republicans also filed for the seat.
Republicans hold supermajorities in the Kentucky House and Senate. Democrats failed to line up candidates in several state Senate districts. A handful of GOP senators will face primary challenges.
“The small number of challenges Senate majority caucus members will face in the May primaries and November general elections reflect positively on the direction of the caucus’ past two decades of leadership,” Senate President Robert Stivers said in a statement. “Good politics follow good policies.”
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