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May 22, 2019 11:19am

2019 Kentucky Primary Election Wrap-up

The dust is settling from yesterday’s primary elections, which saw Kentucky Democrats and Republicans select their nominees for statewide constitutional offices. Voter turnout has been estimated at around 20 percent, higher than the 12.5 percent projected by the Secretary of State’s Office. With the field set for both parties, the battle for the general election in November now begins in earnest. Election day is Tuesday, November 5.

While GLI does not endorse candidates for elected office, members of the Greater Louisville business community are strongly encouraged to engage in the electoral process and to learn as much about the candidates as possible. To support increased voter engagement from the business community, GLI will be actively working to ensure our regional business and civic leaders are fully informed heading into November.

Governor’s Race: Beshear vs. Bevin

Incumbent Governor Matt Bevin overcame a primary challenge from State Representative Robert Goforth (R-East Bernstadt). Bevin won with 52 percent of the vote, carrying Jefferson and Fayette counties as well as Northern Kentucky and most of the western part of the state. Goforth captured 39 percent of the vote with wins in the eastern and southeastern parts of Kentucky.  

In November, Bevin will face Attorney General Andy Beshear, who won the Democratic primary with 38 percent. The son of former Governor Steve Beshear, Andy Beshear defeated three opponents, including State House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (R-Sandy Hook) and former State Auditor Adam Edelen. Adkins and Edelen won 32 and 28 percent of the vote, respectively. Critical to Beshear’s victory were competitive showings in Jefferson and Fayette counties as well as strong margins in Northern Kentucky and the western and central counties. Adkins heavily carried the eastern region of Kentucky.

The primary results set off what is likely to be a heated general election season. Bevin and Beshear have made no secret of their differences on many key issues, and Beshear’s office has taken Bevin to court on several occasions in the past four years. Bevin is only the third Republican to hold the Governor’s Office in Kentucky in more than half a century. If he wins in November, he would be the first two-term Republican Governor in the Commonwealth’s history. (A constitutional amendment passed in 1992 first allowed for Kentucky Governors to serve two consecutive terms. Since then, two Democratic Governors—Paul Patton (1995-2003) and Steve Beshear (2007-2015)—have served two terms, while Republican Ernie Fletcher served only a single term (2003-2007), losing the 2007 election to Beshear). 

The race is already attracting national attention, largely due to the close relationship between Bevin and President Donald Trump. Political observers from around the country are viewing Kentucky’s 2019 gubernatorial election as a potential bellwether for the 2020 presidential election.

Bevin’s running mate is Senator Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester). Beshear’s running mate is Jacqueline Coleman, an educator and basketball coach from Mercer County.

Attorney General: Stumbo vs. Cameron

With incumbent Andy Beshear running for Governor, the race for Attorney General is wide open. Former House Speaker Greg Stumbo won the Democratic nomination uncontested. Stumbo served in the House from 1980 to 2004 and 2009 to 2017. He held the Office of Attorney General from 2004 to 2008.

The Republican primary pitted State Senator Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) vs attorney Daniel Cameron. A former legal aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Cameron came out ahead, winning 55 percent of the vote. He will face Stumbo in the Fall.   

Secretary of State: Henry vs. Adams

As with the race for Attorney General, the Secretary of State is an open seat. Democratic incumbent Alison Lundergan-Grimes is term-limited. Heather French Henry defeated three opponents to win the Democratic nomination with 71 percent of the vote. Henry’s 260,000 votes was the largest single-candidate vote tally of the evening. She is a former Miss America and has served as the Commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Veterans Affairs. On the Republican side, Michael Adams won with 41 percent, also defeating three opponents. Adams is an attorney with experience working for the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Auditor: Donahue vs. Harmon

Incumbent Auditor Mike Harmon was uncontested for the Republican nomination. He will face Democrat Sheri Donahue who received 47 percent of the vote. Donahue defeated two opponents for the Democratic nomination. She is a former Naval engineer, who unsuccessfully challenged Senator Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville) in 2018.

Treasurer: Bowman vs. Ball

Incumbent Allison Ball also had an uncontested primary. Her Democratic challenger will be Michael Bowman, who won 66 percent over business owner Josh Mers. Bowman works in finance and previously served as a legislative assistant with Louisville Metro Council.

Commissioner of Agriculture: Conway vs. Quarles

Incumbent Ryan Quarles easily fended off a primary challenge from Lexington hemp farmer Bill Polyniak. Quarles received 82 percent of the vote. Robert Conway won the Democratic primary with 60 percent, defeating Glasgow City Council Member and farmer Joe Trigg. Conway is a farmer in Georgetown and former chair of the Scott County Board of Education.

Full results from yesterday’s primary election can be found here.