Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

There were several take-aways from Kentucky’s May 17 primary election results. Several primary challenges were waged against incumbents. And for primaries in open seats, the more principled and conservative candidate often prevailed. This means the Republican party, especially in the State House, is moving in a more conservative direction.

3 Powerful Republicans Lost to Primary Challengers

Three powerful northern Kentucky State House members lost their seats to more conservative challengers. State Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger) was the leading proponent of gambling expansion in the Kentucky State House. Koenig chaired the Licensing, Occupation, and Administrative Regulations Committee and was the single biggest proponent of expanded gambling in the House. He successfully sponsored and pushed Historical Horse Racing last year. He pushed legalized sports gambling the last two sessions but failed. So here’s the question, if gambling expansion was so important an issue to his district, then why didn’t constituents reward him with another term? The gambling lobby heavily supported him and came up short.

State Rep. Ed Massey (R-Hebron) was chair of the Judiciary committee, he was pro-gambling and was anti-school choice, which was an important issue in his district. State Rep. Sal Santoro chaired a powerful transportation committee, and was considered moderate. In the end, if gambling was so important to each of those districts, the voters clearly did not recognize that on Tuesday.

Candidates Awarded Friend of the Commonwealth Awards Won

CPC awarded several Friend of the Commonwealth Awards prior to the primary election. Each of these candidates won their primaries. State Rep. Bill Wesley, State Rep. Walker Thomas, State Sen. Don Douglas, and State Sen. Robby Mills prevailed against primary challenges. In particular, State Sen. Don Douglas endured a primary that got ugly and personal.

Several Legislative Candidates attending CPC’s Candidate Training Won

Successful State House Candidates attending CPC’s candidate training in Frankfort earlier in the year included: John Hodgson, Carrie McKeehan, Candy Massaroni, and Wade Williams. State Senate candidate Gex Williams prevailed in a four way primary.