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Congressional, legislative races on tap in Kentucky primary

May 21, 2018

FILE - In a Nov. 8, 2016 file photo, McCracken County residents vote at the Robert Cherry Civic Center in Paducah, Ky. Kentucky residents will head to the polls Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in a midterm primary election with nominations up for grabs in the U.S. House and the Legislature. (Ryan Hermens/The Paducah Sun via AP, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky residents will head to the polls in a midterm primary election with nominations up for grabs in the U.S. House and the Legislature.

More than 3.3 million Kentuckians are registered to vote, and Election Day polls open Tuesday at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. local time.

Only Democrats and Republicans can vote in partisan races on the primary election ballot, but all voters may vote in nonpartisan races requiring a primary.

Here’s a look at some key races on Tuesday’s ballot:

U.S. HOUSE

Six Democrats are running for a chance to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in the 6th District, stretching from the Appalachian foothills to the bluegrass.

Among the Democrats are Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who carried the district in his losing 2016 campaign against Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, and Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot joining the ranks of other military veterans trying to break into Congress. The other Democrats are state Sen. Reggie Thomas, Geoff Young, Theodore David Green and Daniel Kemph. Chuck Eddy is challenging Barr in the Republican primary.

The 3rd District Republican primary pits the state’s former top ranking health official, Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, against two other candidates - Mike Craven and Rhonda Palazzo. As a key member of Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, Glisson led the state’s effort to impose the nation’s first-ever work requirements on Medicaid. The winner of the GOP primary will run in the fall against U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, the only Democrat in Kentucky’s congressional delegation.

Democrats will pick nominees to challenge four other Republican congressmen, who will be prohibitive favorites to hold their seats in November.

In the 1st District, the winner in the matchup between Democrats Alonzo Pennington and Paul Walker will challenge U.S. Rep. James Comer in November.

The Democratic ballot in the 2nd District includes Hank Linderman, Brian Pedigo, Rane Eir Olivia Sessions, and Grant Short. U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie will face the winner in the fall.

In the 4th District, Democrats Seth Hall, Christina Lord and Patti Piatt are running for a chance to challenge U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie.

In the 5th District, the Democratic candidates are Kenneth Stepp and Scott Sykes. U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, dean of the state’s congressional delegation, is being challenged by Republican Gerardo Serrano.

Comer, Guthrie and Massie are unopposed in the primary.

LEGISLATURE

Half of the 38 state Senate seats are up for grabs this year. Republicans Matt Castlen and Dianne Mackey are competing for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Joe Bowen of Owensboro.

Sens. Ernie Harris, Mike Wilson, Julie Raque Adams and Dan Seum face Republican primary challengers.

All 100 House seats are on the ballot. A handful of Republican incumbents, including Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell, are facing challenges from educators in the primary. Thousands of teachers and their supporters rallied at the state Capitol this year to oppose changes to public pension systems, push for greater education funding and denounce derogatory comments from Bevin.

Republicans have large majorities in both chambers.

COUNTY CLERK

Rowan County Democrats will choose a nominee to challenge the county clerk who spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The clerk, Kim Davis, is now a Republican and will face the winner of the four-way Democratic primary. The challengers include David Ermold, a gay man who was initially denied a marriage license in 2015.

Davis caused an international uproar when she stopped issuing marriage licenses in 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws banning same-sex unions. Davis was jailed after she refused to obey a judge ordering her to issue the licenses. The state legislature later changed the law to remove clerks’ names from the licenses.

SUPREME COURT

Three judges are vying for a seat on the Kentucky Supreme Court.

The candidates competing to represent the 3rd Supreme Court District are state Court of Appeals Judge Debra Hembree Lambert and Circuit Court judges David Tapp and Daniel Ballou.

Tapp is a circuit judge for Pulaski, Rockcastle and Lincoln counties. Ballou is a circuit judge for McCreary and Whitley counties. Lambert formerly worked as a prosecutor and family court judge.

The Supreme Court race is nonpartisan. The two candidates with the most votes will face off in the November election for an eight-year term.

The seat is currently held by Justice Daniel J. Venters, who is retiring at the end of his current term. The district includes 27 counties across southern and south-central Kentucky.

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