2012 Primary Election Preview
The 2012 Primary Election will take place on May 22, when Kentucky voters will go to the polls to determine their party’s nominees for various offices including: State House of Representatives and State Senate. In many instances, the primary winners will determine the office holder as some have no opposition in the November General Election.
The attached spreadsheet for the State House and Senate lists the candidates that have filed for offices and is reflected on the Secretary of State’s website as of 5/6. Below we have attempted to highlight each of the primary races and give you a preview of the 2012 State Legislative Election cycle.
*One Note: We have utilized the * (asterisk) in several places to denote an issue with the data we are receiving from the Board of Elections. Due to redistricting issues, some candidates filed for districts that no longer exist, but haven't withdrawn from those races. The Secretary of State has said that those names will appear on the ballot, but the votes will not count. We have left the names on the chart, but have utilized the * to denote where this is an issue. 
View Senate or House.
Basic Stats:
  • 19 Seats up for Election - Currently Held by Democrats (10) & Republicans (9)
  • Six Incumbents Unopposed: 4 Democrats (Turner, Jones, Neal, Stein) & 2 Republicans (Gibson & Jensen) 
  • There are 13 contested Senate Seats in 2012 and those seats are currently held (6) by Democrats & (7) by Republicans.  
  • Four Open Seats - 3 vacated by Republicans (Westwood, Winters, McGaha) 1 by a Democrat (Shaughnessy)
  • 8 contested primaries & *5 of those will decide the Senator, because they have no opposition in the Fall. *We place an asterisk here, because the 15th district open seat to replace Sen. McGaha (R) has a Democrat filed, but he appears to have filed for the seat under the unconstitutional redistricting map.
  • Four Incumbents with Primaries: 3 Republicans (Givens, Thayer, Schickel) & 1 Democrat (Harper-Angel)
Here is a brief preview on the eight contested Senate Primaries:
9th District – Incumbent Sen. David Givens (R) faces a challenge from Don Butler who is the Metcalfe County Judge-Executive and is in the funeral home business. Butler appears to be trying to make the race competitive as he has put in $100,000 of his own money, although it appears that he will have a large deficit to overcome. This is Sen. Givens first run since winning the seat in the 2008 election. There is no Democrat filed for this seat, so the winner will be unopposed in November.
11th District – Incumbent Sen. John Schickel (R) faces a challenge from Joshua Turner a political newcomer, for whom we failed to find any significant background, except that he appears to be for lesser government. Sen. Schickel has significant advantage in terms of name recognition and campaign infrastructure. There is no Democrat filed, so this race will determine who holds the seat. 
15th District – This is an open seat vacated by retiring Sen. Vernie McGaha (R). The primary is a four way race to determine the Republican nominee, and possibly the seat. We say possibly because a Democrat has filed for the 15th District, but appears to be out of district and would be disqualified. In the Republican Primary the candidates are: Chris Girdler, a former staffer to Congressman Rogers; Mark Polston, a former Deputy Attorney General and local business owner; AC Donahue, an attorney; and Todd Hoskins a KY Farm Bureau Insurance agent. Based on recent campaign finance reports Girdler has a significant fundraising lead at this point, but it is hard to know how that may impact the race. 
17th District – Incumbent Sen. Damon Thayer faces a primary and a general election challenge this year. In the primary, he faces Rick Hostetler a self-proclaimed Tea Party candidate and electrical contractor. Sen. Thayer has significant name recognition and campaign infrastructure, which will test the Tea Party support for Hostetler. The winner will face Democrat candidate, David Holcomb, a political unknown.
19th District – An open seat vacated by the retirement of Sen. Tim Shaughnessy (D). The primary race is a four-candidate challenge for the Democrat nomination and the winner will be the state Senator as no Republican candidates have filed. The four Democrat candidates are: Morgan McGarvey, an attorney who previously worked for AG Jack Conway and Congressman Ben Chandler; Sarah Lynn Cunningham, an environmental engineer; Gary Demling, an assistant golf professional; and Amy Shoemaker, an attorney with the University of Louisville. McGarvey holds a significant fundraising advantage, but in an open seat in a primary it will be difficult to handicap a winner.
23rd District – An open seat vacated by the retirement of Sen. Jack Westwood (R). The Republican primary pits Chris McDaniel, who runs a cement company, against Ft. Mitchell Councilman Will Terwort. McDaniel has an advantage in fundraising, but being a local office holder and past candidate should help Terwort with name recognition. The winner faces Democrat James Noll, who is also a local councilman and an attorney.
35th District – Incumbent Sen. Denise Harper-Angel (D) faces a primary challenge from Curtis Morrison a former real estate agent and now communications director for the Say No to Bridge Tolls group. Sen. Harper-Angel has a significant advantage in name identification and campaign infrastructure. The winner of the primary will be unopposed in November for the seat as no Republican has filed. 
37th District – There is a three way race for the Republican Primary to determine who will face incumbent Sen. Perry Clark (D) in November. The Republican candidates are: Chris Thieneman, a local real estate developer; Doug Hawkins, a Metro Council Member, who was defeated by Sen. Clark by over 6,000 votes in 2008; and John Yuen, an engineer and small business owner. Thieneman and Hawkins are the more seasoned candidates having run for various offices in the past. Thieneman has a fundraising advantage and that may give him an edge on May 22. It will be interesting to see if voters want to give Sen. Clark a different opponent than in 2008 and if it will matter. 
Basic Stats:
  • 100 Seats up for Election, Currently Held by Democrats (59) & Republicans (41)        
  • 40 Incumbents Unopposed: 20 Democrats & 20 Republicans  
  • 9 Open Seats: 5 Republicans (Webb-Edgington, Farmer, Ford, Napier, Housman) & 4 Democrats (Nesler, Henley, Cherry, R.Adams)         
  • 28 contested primaries & 13 of those will decide the Representative, because they have no opposition in the Fall     
  • 18 Incumbents with Primaries: 10 Democrats (Pullin, Gooch, J.Arnold, J.Lee, Rollins, McKee, Meeks, Glenn, Short, Hurt) & 8 Republicans (DeWeese, Floyd, S.Lee, Wuchner, Rader, Gregory, Rowland, Bunch)
Because of the sheer volume of House primary election contests—28--we have narrowed our focus to provide a brief preview on the 18 races featuring incumbents:
7th District – Incumbent Rep. John Arnold (D) faces a challenge from Jim Murphy an aluminum industry worker. Rep. Arnold missed much of the last portion of the 2012 Session with health issues and it isn’t clear if those issues will impact his ability to campaign. The winner faces Republican candidate Tim Kline in November.
12th District – Incumbent Rep. Jim Gooch (D) faces a challenge from Jim Nance a former welding teacher and current Chairman of the Webster County School Board. 
13th District – Incumbent Rep. Jim Glenn (D) faces a challenge from Jeremy Warfield, a political newcomer who is only 24 years of age. Based on publically available information he works at the local Home Depot. The winner faces Independent candidate Bill Barron, a local businessman who has been active in the Chamber and Homebuilders Association in the General Election in November. 
25th District – Incumbent Rep. Jimmie Lee (D) faces two Democrat opponents in the May Primary. One of those is a familiar opponent Glenn Fonda, who Rep. Lee beat in the 2010 Primary with 82% of the votes. The other candidate is Kendrick Bryan a school teacher and political newcomer. No Republican is filed for the General Election.
37th District – Incumbent Rep. Wade Hurt (D) faces a Democrat Primary challenge from Jeffery Donohue. This is a rematch of sorts. Rep. Hurt faced off against Jeffrey Donohue in 2010 to fill the 37th District as an open seat. Hurt was a Republican then and became an unlikely winner in October 2010, when a Jefferson circuit judge ruled that Donohue was ineligible because one of the two people who signed his nominating papers did not live in the 37th District, as required. Donohue is a retired auto worker.
42nd District – Incumbent Rep. Reggie Meeks (D) faces a primary challenge from Wendy Caswell, the Louisville Tea Party President. She is a lifelong Democrat but identifies with the Tea Party. Her background is in restaurant management. No Republican has filed for the General Election.
45th District – Incumbent Rep. Stan Lee (R) faces a primary challenge from Chris Tyler an engineer who works for a local HVAC company. Tyler seems to be relatively organized and although he hasn’t run for office before has served on some state and local boards, but will likely face an uphill battle in terms of name identification in this district. No Democrat has filed in the general.
48th District – House Minority Caucus Chairman Bob DeWeese (R-Louisville) faces a primary and general election challenge this election cycle. In the primary Rep. DeWeese faces Scott Reed a VP of business development for VG Reed a printing company who has been endorsed by the Louisville Tea Party. Democrat candidate and former Representative Susan Johns awaits the primary winner in the general election.
50th District – Incumbent Rep. David Floyd (R) faces a primary and general election challenge this election cycle. In the primary he faces Republican Donna Pegago who founded the Nelson County-Bardstown Tea Party. The winner will face Democrat Dick Heaton in November.
52nd District – Incumbent Rep. Sara Beth Gregory (R-Monticello) faces a primary challenge from David Gover a retired school superintendent. This is Rep. Gregory’s first race since winning the seat in 2010. No Democrat has filed for the General Election.
53rd District – Incumbent Rep. Bart Rowland (R) faces a primary and general election challenge. Rep. Rowland won a special election in February to fill the unexpired term vacated by now Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Rep. Rowland now faces two other Republican candidates in the primary Freddy Harbison a teacher from Metcalfe County and Richard Treitz a health and wellness consultant and Tea Party organizer. Thomas Dodson, the Democrat candidate, awaits the winner in November.
56th District – Incumbent Rep. Carl Rollins (D) faces a primary and general election challenge. In the primary the challenger is a retired car dealer and part-time farmer, Jerry Atwood. Rep. Rollins has a significant advantage in terms of name identification and campaign organization. The winner will face Republican Douglass Jones in November.
66th District – Incumbent Rep. Addia Wuchner (R) faces two challengers in the primary election. This will be an interesting race for Northern KY as it pits two heavy weights Rep. Wuchner against former Boone County commissioner and Tea Party organizer Cathy Flaig. Also, in the primary is William Woods who works in security. No Democrat has filed in the General Election.
78th District – Incumbent Rep. Tom McKee (D-Cynthiana) faces both a primary and general election challenge. In the primary Rep. McKee faces Bradley Copes a farmer and Harrison County Fiscal Court member. The fact that Copes holds local office makes him a viable candidate, but Rep. McKee should have an advantage in campaign organization. The winner faces Bryan Lutz in November.
82nd District – Incumbent Rep. Regina Bunch (R-Williamsburg) won an open seat to fill the unexpired term of her husband Dewayne Bunch who was injured in an incident at the school in which he taught at. She now faces a primary challenge as she seeks her first full term in the seat. Her opponent is James Larry Goins, a local convenient store owner. No Democrat is filed in November.
89th District – Incumbent Rep. Marie Rader (R) faces a primary challenge from Carlos Cameron who works as an Education Coordinator for Operation UNITE. This is likely a serious challenge for Rep. Rader as Cameron travels the region on behalf of Operation UNITE and he seems to have some campaign organization though he hasn’t held elected office.
92nd District – Incumbent Rep. John Short (D) faces a primary challenge as he looks to win a second term in the General Assembly. No Republican is filed in the General Election, so the winner between Rep. Short and Bobby Hamilton will win the seat.
98th District – Incumbent Rep. Tanya Pullin (D) faces a primary challenge from Tyler Murphy, a teacher and local party activist who is in his mid-20s. Rep. Pullin should have plenty of advantages in name identification, fundraising, and campaign infrastructure, though Murphy has utilized the web to garner broader recognition of his campaign.