FRANKFORT, Ky. ( Associated Press) — Three leading Republicans in the Kentucky House lost in a scorching GOP primaries, reflecting growing pains within the state’s major political party.
Several other incumbent GOP lawmakers successfully faced tough challenges on Tuesday.
The epicenter of Republican intraparty battles was in northern Kentucky – where the shakeup took place. State Rep. Adam Koenig was undefeated by Steven Donne. Rep. C. Ed Massey lost to Steve Rollings, while Rep. Sal Santoro was defeated by Marian Proctor.
Republican Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer shaped all three races Wednesday, saying “a liberal-populist narrative worked in an election with a very low turnout.”
Koenig and Massey were chairman of the committee, while Santoro as chairman of the budget review subcommittee had a key role in determining transportation spending. Koenig also rose to prominence for legalizing sports betting in Kentucky – an effort that fell short again this year.
Current GOP lawmakers fared better elsewhere in the state. State Sen. Donald Douglas defeated challenger Andrew Cooperrider in a high-spending primary. Other incumbents who won the closely watched primaries included Reps Kim King, Brandon Reid and Samara Heverin.
Asked to assess the overall primary season, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday: “What I see are nastier primaries. And we need to get ahead of generally bad elections. I’m going to have a few mailers.” I don’t wish what I saw on anyone.”
Beshear is preparing for his tough election battle next year.
Republicans are so dominant in much of Kentucky, winning a GOP primary in many districts is tantamount to securing a legislative seat. This has resulted in fierce competition in some areas.
Scott Jennings, a Kentuckian and former adviser to President George W. Bush, said, “I don’t see a big message in this primary, because it was the first of many where almost all of the import action would take place in the May GOP primary.” , “We have become dominant so fast, and the GOP will have to grapple with these internal squabbles for many years to come.”
Republican supermajorities in Kentucky’s legislature include lawmakers characterized as business-oriented conservatives, social conservatives, and liberals. Many of his views overlap on issues such as gun rights, low taxes, and opposition to abortion. Some of this year’s GOP primaries pitted traditionally conservative functionaries against liberal-minded challengers.
“What you’re seeing is just increasing pain as the Republican Party continues to grow in Kentucky,” Reid said in an interview at the State Capitol on Wednesday.
Reid, the deputy chairman of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, won his primary in his rural district with nearly 70% of the vote. Reid emphasized primary victories by lawmakers aligned with the “traditional party”—which he said reshaped Kentucky policies since the GOP won total control of the legislature after the 2016 election.
Asked if he saw a place for liberals in the party, Reid replied: “I think there is room for Republicans in the Republican Party. If you want to be a liberal, you should probably join the Libertarian Party.” And one needs to walk as a moderate.”
The primary loss by Koenig and Massey would create opportunities for two committee chairmen. Koenig has been the chairman of the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee. Massey made an impact as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
The results of the GOP primaries, this year and potentially contested primaries in the coming years, could be factors in the divisions that sometimes surface in the legislature over issues such as charter schools and whether sports betting and medical marijuana are legalized. have to make.
With Koenig’s defeat, another lawmaker would have to step in as the primary sponsor of legislation to legalize sports betting in Kentucky.
“It’s important that we elect people for all offices who can help us work,” Beshear said in an interview at the Statehouse. “They are willing to put aside differences and move on to major issues like sports betting and medical marijuana. Their time has come and we need to make sure we are choosing people who believe in them.
Elsewhere, GOP voters settled two current-versus-incumbent primaries—the result of a new House redistribution map passed as a result of a statewide population shift reflected in the 2020 U.S. Census.
In Western Kentucky, Rep. Jim Gooch Jr. defeated fellow Rep. Lynn Bacheler. In a newly created Eastern Kentucky district, Rep. Bobby McCool defeated Rep. Norma Kirk-McCormick.