Young Politicians Advance In Kentucky

By John Celock

Kentucky voters are setting the stage to have youth on their statewide ballot this November, with five candidates – including one incumbent – under the age of 40 advancing in Tuesday’s primary.

Three Republicans and one Democrat won primaries for state constitutional offices in November, while Democrat Andy Beshear was unopposed to be his party’s nominee for state attorney general. The primary results come as Kentucky Republicans see a nail biter of a gubernatorial race where businessman Matt Bevan currently leads state Agriculture Commissioner Jim Comer by 83 votes. Kentucky voters will see turnover in five out of seven statewide offices this year.

Beshear, the 36-year-old son of term limited Gov. Steve Beshear (D), will face off against state Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville), 32, in the attorney general’s contest. Beshear, an attorney in Louisville, is seeking his first elective office. Westerfield, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, defeated attorney Mike Hogan in the Republican primary. The pair are looking to succeed term limited Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for governor.

Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, 36, easily won the Democratic nomination in her bid for a second term, defeating Charles Lovett with 73 percent of the vote. She is best known for her unsuccessful bid last year to defeat U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). Lundergan Grimes will face former Erlanger Councilman Steve Knipper (R) in November.

In the Republican primary for state agriculture commissioner, state Sen. Ryan Quarles (R-Georgetown), 31, narrowly defeated state Rep. Richard Heath (R-Mayfield) by 806 votes. Quarles will face Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, an agriculture marketing executive, in November.

In the Republican primary for state treasurer, 33-year-old bankruptcy attorney Allison Ball defeated two opponents with 46 percent of the vote. Ball will face off against state. Rick Nelson (D-Middlesboro) in November. Nelson defeated four primary opponents, including 36-year-old Jefferson County Commissioner Daniel Grossberg, in the primary.

In addition to Grossberg, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Latonia), 37, may be headed for defeat. McDaniel is Comer’s lieutenant governor running mate.