Kentucky Primary Previews

Governor (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)

Democratic Primary

Candidates: Rocky Adkins, Andy Beshear, Adam Edelen, Geoff Young

Overview: We start with a highly competitive primary which seems fairly evenly divided between three of the four Democratic candidates. The consensus favorite early on was Attorney General Andy Beshear, who is the son of popular former Governor Steve Beshear. Beshear has managed to get elected in an increasingly red state and has been seen as a strong contender. He also is running on a generally center-left platform which will likely appeal to Democrats hailing from the more populated areas of the state. However, he has been accused of sleepwalking a bit in his campaign, which has allowed others a path to victory. The other more establishment candidate in the race is former state auditor Adam Edelen, who has been a fiscal moderate in the race but also taken strongly progressive stances on energy issues, a potential problem in a coal-based economy. Edelen’s biggest advantage is his fundraising lead, although Beshear isn’t far behind. However, a third candidate’s surge has greatly shaken this race up. House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins has run on a populist platform, taking strong stances on labor issues while also the controversial step of running as a pro-life candidate in a Democratic primary. Adkins might not have much appeal in more urban areas, but he has been campaigning a lot in rural Eastern Kentucky, which he represents in the legislature. By running up the score there, he could easily give himself a chance, especially considering the number of rural ancestral Democrats in Kentucky. A fourth candidate, Geoff Young, could also take a few votes but won’t really factor in the race. Overall, any of the three could win, but my money is on Beshear narrowly beating out Adkins.

Prediction: Andy Beshear wins with 35% of the vote.

Republican Primary

Candidates: Matt Bevin (incumbent), Robert Goforth, Ike Lawrence, William Woods

Overview: Matt Bevin is one of the least popular Governors in the country, but it seems he is likely to survive this primary. His only strong challenger is State Representative Robert Goforth, who has actually managed to self-fund his way into competition, but still faces several name recognition issues. He represents a very rural district in the State House and is trying to run on a populist platform. In order to have any chance, he will definitely need to run up the score in rural areas. I think the Bevin protest vote could be a big factor, but I don’t think he’s in serious danger.

Prediction: Matt Bevin wins with 65% of the vote.

Attorney General (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Not Running)

Democratic Primary

Former Attorney General Greg Stumbo is unopposed.

Republican Primary

Candidates: Daniel Cameron, Will Schroder

Overview: The Republicans see a major chance to help a future star in this election, and have rallied around Daniel Cameron, the former Attorney to Mitch McConnell. Cameron is African-American, which has been seen as a huge positive by groups trying to improve diversity within the Republican Party. However, there has been some local pushback against Cameron essentially being anointed by McConnell and his allies, and State Senator Will Schroder is running a strong campaign to challenge Cameron. Schroder represents a suburban seat right near Cincinnati and has a strong base in what is a heavy area of registered Republicans. Schroder is seen as in a tossup race with Cameron at the moment, but I’d lean towards Cameron pulling out a victory thanks to the McConnell network.

Prediction: Daniel Cameron wins with 55% of the vote.

Secretary of State (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Not Running)

Democratic Primary

Candidates: Jason Belcher, Jason Griffith, Heather French-Henry, Geoff Sebesta

Overview: This is a second open seat the Democrats will have to face the challenge of defending, and it seems like former Miss America Heather French-Henry is the most likely to win this primary. There’s always a potential for someone else to surprise in a race further down the ballot like this one, but it would be surprising if she didn’t win given her vast fundraising and endorsement lead.

Prediction: Heather French-Henry wins with 65% of the vote.

Republican Primary

Candidates: Michael Adams, Andrew English, Stephen Knipper, Carl Nett

Overview: This seems to be more or less a two-man race between 2015 nominee Stephen Knipper and state elections board member Michael Adams, who was also a Bush administration official. Adams is probably a slight favorite, but Knipper does have support from more right-wing conservatives and name recognition, which gives him a very real chance. Andrew English and Carl Nett both also have some support but seem to be only likely to get in the high single digits at most.

Prediction: Michael Adams wins with 45% of the vote.

Auditor (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)

Democratic Primary

Candidates: Drew Curtis, Sheri Donahue, Kelsey Hayes Coots, Chris Tobe

Overview: Nonprofit leader Sheri Donahue seems to be the heavy favorite in this race, with a large lead in fundraising and establishment support. However, Chris Tobe has also run a decent grassroots campaign and could pull off a surprise.

Prediction: Sheri Donahue wins with 60% of the vote.

Republican Primary

Incumbent Mike Harmon is unopposed.

Treasurer (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)

Democratic Primary

Candidates: Michael Bowman (D), Josh Mers (D)

Overview: This campaign has been a very low profile one, with neither candidate doing an incredibly significant amount of campaigning. As a result, there could be a lot of people who randomly choose one candidate without having any idea who the two are. My money is more on Mers, as he at least has some campaign experience from a 2018 State House primary campaign where he took 30% of the vote.

Prediction: Josh Mers wins with 55% of the vote.

Republican Primary

Incumbent Allison Ball is unopposed.

Agriculture Commissioner (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)

Democratic Primary

Candidates: Robert Haley Conway, Joe Trigg

Overview: This should also be a very close race between two candidates with low profiles. Joe Trigg is a Glasgow City Councilman, while Robert Haley Conway is a small farmer and school board member. Trigg is running as a more liberal candidate, while Conway is running on a conservative platform. Either could win in a basically tossup race.

Prediction: Robert Haley Conway wins with 55% of the vote.

Republican Primary

Candidates: Ryan Quarles (incumbent), Bill Polyniak

Overview: Incumbent Ryan Quarles is facing a primary challenger in this race, but he doesn’t appear to be incredibly vulnerable against Bill Polyniak. Polyniak has run a decent populist campaign, but Quarles is fairly popular and is seen as a future star by the establishment.

Prediction: Ryan Quarles wins with 70% of the vote


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