This year the Kentucky primary election is very unique because of the threats associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Most people will be voting via absentee ballots even though a single polling place (the Old Courthouse in McKee, KY) will be open on election day (Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020) for in-person voting. The Republican offices that are up for election include the Federal office of President of the United States, United States Representative in Congress (5th Congressional District) and United States Senator along with the State office of State Senator (21st Senatorial District). The Democratic offices running in the primary include Federal office of President of the United States and United States Senator.
Republican Primary Candidates
• President of the United States: Incumbent President Donald J. Trump is running unopposed in the primary
• United States Senator: candidates on the ballot include Incumbent Mitch McConnell, Naren James, Kenneth Lowndes, C. Wesley Morgan, Nicholas Alsager, Wendell K. Crow, Paul John Frangedakis, and Louis Grider
• United States Representative in Congress (5th Congressional District): candidates on the ballot include incumbent Harold “Hal” Rogers and Gerardo Serrano
• State Senator (21st Senatorial District): Candidates on the ballot include incumbent Albert Robinson, Brandon Jackson Storm, and Kay Hensley. The 21st district includes Laurel, Jackson, Estill, Powell, Menifee, and Bath Counties.
Democratic Primary Candidates
• President of the United States: candidates on the ballot include Pete Buttigieg, John K. Delaney, Joseph R. Biden, Tom Steyer, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bennet, Michael R. Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Deval Patrick, Andrew Yang, and Elizabeth Warren. (It should be noted that all the candidates except Joseph R. Biden have officially withdrawn from the race but are still listed on the ballot. They can still garner delegates commensurate with the number of votes which would translate into a voice in forming the party platform during the convention)
• United States Senator: candidates include Andrew J. Maynard, Amy McGrath, Eric Rothmuller, John R. Sharpensteen, Bennie J. Smith, Mary Ann Tobin, Jimmy C. Ausbrooks, Charles Booker, Mike Broihier, and Maggie Jo Hillard.
The races that seem to be getting the most attention locally are the Democratic primary for United States Senate and the Republican Primary for State Senate (21st District). Most people have heard most about 3 names on the Democratic primary ticket even though there are 10 names on your ballot. Retired Marine Corps Fighter Pilot Amy McGrath set her course early and received a lot of national party backing. Louisville State Representative Charles Booker has seen his stock rise while leading at recent protests. Mike Broihier has gotten a great deal of national attention as well. Broihier is a retired Marine Corps Lt. Colonel and a former newspaper editor. Broihier is a champion of health care reform and the environment. He prides himself on being very honest and accessible to his constituents and he is a staunch advocate for Universal Basic Income. Broihier has the support of former Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang.
All three Republican candidates for the 21st State Senatorial seat (The 21st district includes Laurel, Jackson, Estill, Powell, Menifee, and Bath Counties) are familiar to Jackson County voters. All three are running on platforms supporting Second Amendment Gun Rights, Pro-Life legislation, and Pro-Christian issues. Incumbent Senator Albert Robinson stresses his experience in the office and his seniority status in the Kentucky Senate as the main distinction between him and the other candidates. Robinson said he is the best candidate for the job because he has been sworn in 41 years out of the last 49. He said he is a redistricting expert which will be a valuable asset going into the next few years. Robinson said that his expertise is why leadership asked him to run for another term. Robinson is a strong supporter of our military veterans and currently serves as the Chair of the Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection committee. Robinson said three planks of his platform that he wants his constituents to know about is that he is a social conservative, a strong supporter of the Constitution and has an endorsement from Right to Life. His top priority, he said, will be God, guns, country and family if he is re-elected.
State Senator Republican candidate Kay Hensley has described herself as a Christian, wife, mother, beekeeper, farmer and lawyer. She said her interests range from churning butter to making homemade soap. She said three of the qualifications that she has that make her the best candidate for the job are being a lawyer (She has practiced law in Laurel County for 32 years), having real-life experience and being a “really, really, really hard worker, especially when it comes to things that I believe in and I believe in my conservative values.” Hensley said three planks of her platform that she wants her constituents to know are that she will protect their constitutional rights - freedom of speech, religion and the right to bear arms -, she will work on fixing the issues with the pension system and promote businesses - especially small businesses in the community. Protecting constitutional rights before anything else, Hensley said, will be her top priority.
State Senator Republican candidate Brandon Storm believes some of the qualifications that he has that make him the best candidate for the office are his previous experiences and work as an entrepreneur. “A legislator is supposed to deal with the laws and that is what I deal with on a daily basis,” said Storm. “I am an attorney and have been practicing going on 17 years.” He said from his experiences, he understands the importance of listening to constituents but also making sure those influences are not the only ones guiding decision making. Storm reported that the three planks of his platform that he wants constituents to know are that he is a strong conservative Republican who will vote that way on critical issues, he favors small businesses and he is down to earth. Storm said his top priority if elected would be to make sure that teachers' pensions are protected. During the pandemic, he had to homeschool his fourth- and eighth-graders. He said that it was a real challenge. Storm said the legislator needs to ensure that teacher pensions are protected and taken care of fiscally.
Mike VanWinkle is the Democratic Party’s candidate for the 89th District state representative race. Because he is the only Democrat running, he will not appear on the ballot during the June primary, but he will be on the ballot in the November general election. VanWinkle says he values public service and that is the reason he is running. The political figure that inspires him the most is John F. Kennedy. “I like JFK because he viewed his role as a politician to be equivalent to public service. VanWinkle says he thinks that politicians should be approachable and accessible. He thinks the biggest problem with politics these days is “extremism” on both sides of the aisle. “We have a lot of common ground and a lot of common objectives. However, we are mired in stubborn extremism where the parties consider each other enemies. You can’t work with someone on the other side of the aisle and reach compromise without the fear of being seen as weak. This climate makes it impossible to get anything accomplished,” VanWinkle said. VanWinkle feels like the people in the 89th District get ignored because they are dismissed based on party labels. “Republicans think they are guaranteed a win without any effort and Democrats think they are guaranteed a loss despite their best efforts. The truth is the people in the 89th District have issues that need addressed and being ignored by both parties only makes this worse,” VanWinkle said.