FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky House of Representatives is the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats. Republicans and Democrats will battle for control in the fall, but first they will battle each other for the party nominations in each district. Here’s a look at some of the primaries:
Incumbent: Denver Butler
Democratic primary: Butler surprised everyone when he switched parties to become a Republican in November, especially from a Democratic district in Louisville. Now two Democrats are competing for a chance to defeat him in the fall. Dan Johnson, a Louisville Metro councilman since 1992, will face off against McKenzie Cantrell, an attorney specializing in minimum wage and overtime law.
Incumbent: Daniel Elliott
Counties: Boyle, Casey
Republican primary: Daniel Elliott won a special election on March 8 to fulfill the unexpired term of former state Rep. Mike Harmon, who is now the state auditor. But he could not celebrate for long, because he has to run again on Tuesday. He faces two challengers: Steve Evans, assessment coordinator for the Madison County Public Schools, and Chris Pennington, a civil engineer. In the fall, the winner will face Democrat Bill Noelker, who lost to Elliott in the special election in March.
Incumbent: Cluster Howard, Democrat
Counties: Breathitt, Estill, Lee, Madison, Owsley
Republican Primary: Republicans were supposed to take control of the House of Representatives in 2014, with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell at the top of the ticket. But while McConnell won in a landslide, Republicans did not gain a seat in the House. One reason was Howard, who knocked off Republican Toby Herald by 14 votes. Tuesday, Herald will try to take the first step in getting his seat back by competing in the Republican primary. He faces retired educator Randall Christopher.
Incumbent: Leslie Combs, Democrat, not seeking re-election
Counties: Letcher, Pike
Republican Primary: One of the most crowded races for state House, featuring four candidates. Colin Fultz has received the most media attention. He owns Kentucky Mist Moonshine and has been sued by the University of Kentucky, which says it owns the trademark for “Kentucky.” The other candidates are former Letcher County school board member Wesley Doughman, former Pikeville mayor and current city commissioner Frank D. Justice II and attorney Charles Phillip Wheeler.
Democratic Primary: Attorney Angie Hatton and pharmacist Joel Thornbury hope to keep the district in Democratic hands.
Incumbent: Rocky Adkins, Democrat
Counties: Elliott, Lewis, Rowan
Republican Primary: Republicans are hoping to capitalize on the publicity surrounding Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who went to jail last year for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis, a longtime Democrat, is now a Republican. Two Republicans are vying for the chance to topple Rocky Adkins, the House Democratic Floor Leader. Evangelist Randy Smith, one of the most quoted and visible Davis supporters last summer, is running. So is Wendy Fletcher, a nurse practitioner who is president of the Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwives.