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Your 2016 Primary Voter Guide: Federal Elections

In 17 years of voting at this polling place, nevr took longer than 5 minutes...today it took 1 hr and 5 minutes!
Creative Commons
In 17 years of voting at this polling place, nevr took longer than 5 minutes...today it took 1 hr and 5 minutes!

Kentucky Democrats will decide between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election, and members from both parties will vote in elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and state House. Some state Senate districts will also be on the ballot.

Republicans won’t vote for president because in March the party conducted a caucus election, which Donald Trump won handily.

Voter turnout is expected to be low on Tuesday — about 20 percent, according to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. She says Republicans might be less inclined to show up to the polls since their presidential contest has already taken place.

Here’s a look at the federal offices on the ballot and the candidates running for them.

Democratic Presidential Primary

Kentucky has become a surprise battleground between the two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

Although the state has a small share of the delegates left in the nominating contest, candidates are fighting for momentum heading into the bigger California and New Jersey primaries.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders trails in the delegate count to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but he's won 7 out of the 12 most-recent primary contests, including neighboring West Virginia and Indiana.

Sanders says he can still secure the nomination by winning enough delegates from the remaining primaries and convincing super delegates to switch their pledged affiliations to his campaign from Clinton’s.

Hillary Clinton has campaigned heavily in Kentucky in recent weeks, touting endorsements from state Democratic leaders like former Gov. Steve Beshear, Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and former Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen.

On the issues, Clinton supports the Affordable Care Act, making four-year college debt-free for graduates, paid maternity leave and equal pay for women. She also says states need to invest in treatment and “second chance” programs that keep those battling addiction out of jail.

Clinton served one and half terms as a U.S. Senator from New York before stepping down to be secretary of state for two and a half years under President Barack Obama.

Sanders supports a single-payer universal health care system, taxing Wall Street trading to pay for a free state college tuition program, and reforming the criminal justice system. He also advocates for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and gender pay equity.

Sanders identifies as a Democratic Socialist and is in his second term as the junior senator of Vermont. He served for 16 years in the House of Representatives and eight years as mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Republican Senate Primary

After his failed presidential bid, Rand Paul has returned to Kentucky with no major challengers for his U.S. Senate seat, which he has held for one term.

This spring, Paul conducted a series of town hall meetings across the state to drum up support. His platform is essentially the same as it was during his 2010 race: reduce the federal debt by cutting federal spending and scale back federal regulations.

Paul has also opposed intervention in foreign crises and government surveillance, positions that may have been the death knell for his presidential campaign after the rise of ISIS, the ongoing civil war in Syria and the San Bernardino shootings.

There are two Republicans running against Paul: Lexington financial analyst James Gould and Louisville engineer Stephen Slaughter. Both are political newcomers and haven’t run high-profile campaigns.

On his website, Slaughter says he supports construction of the Keystone-XL pipeline and creating jobs by re-industrializing the country.

Gould says on his website that he wants to lift economic sanctions against Russia and “freeze domestic national spending on programs to respond to the rate of inflation and population growth.”

Democratic Senate Primary

Seven Democrats have crowded the field for the chance to challenge likely Republican candidate Rand Paul.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is the most prominent candidate in the race, having run Kentucky’s second-largest city for nearly two terms.

Gray is the owner of Gray Construction. He has already put $1 million of his own money into the race and raised another $750,000.

Gray criticizes Paul for devoting too much time to his failed presidential bid, which extended from early 2015 through February of this year. In commercials and public debates, Gray touts his skills as a problem solver and ability to listen to members of both parties.

Sellus Wilder, a filmmaker and former Frankfort city commissioner, accuses Gray of skewing conservative and leaving progressive Democrats behind.

Wilder says Kentucky Democrats’ major candidates in recent years have wrongly demonized federal regulations that affect the coal industry. He calls for investments in Eastern Kentucky’s infrastructure.

Ron Leach, a physician’s assistant and Army veteran, says he got into the race because he opposed Paul’s role in the 2013 government shutdown. Leach supports raising the minimum wage and wants to invest more in education and infrastructure. In 2014, he lost to U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie in a race for the 2nd District congressional seat.

Also running are Tom Recktenwald, a retired teacher from Louisville; Jeff Kender, a steelworker from Phelps; Rory Houlihan of Winchester and Grant Short of Owensboro.

1st Congressional District

After longtime Rep. Ed Whitfield announced he would retire at the end of this term, the 1st District became a Republican battleground.

Former Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer threw his hat into the ring, less than a year after losing the Republican gubernatorial primary to now- Gov. Matt Bevin by just 83 votes.

Comer says he’s running for congress as a “Washington outsider.” He says he wants to reduce the national debt, fight for gun rights and defund Planned Parenthood. In a commercial, Comer also said he wants to “build the darn wall.”

“The wall” became a central issue in the 1st District race after candidate Mike Pape threw his support behind Trump’s proposal to kick out all undocumented immigrants and build a wall along the southern border of the U.S. Pape, who was endorsed by Whitfield, made a commercial that showed actors depicting “immigrants” supposedly illegally crossing the border to “Stop Mike Pape.”

Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts and Trigg County farmer Miles Caughey are also running.

Army veteran and farmer Sam Gaskins is the lone Democrat running to represent the 1st District, which was a Democratic stronghold before Whitfield took over in 1994. Gaskins says he’s a moderate, siding with Republicans in opposing Environmental Protection Agency efforts to cut curb carbon pollution. He also says he wants to help bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.

2nd Congressional District

Incumbent Republican Brett Guthrie is running unopposed in both the primary and general elections. He has held the seat since 2009.

Guthrie opposes federal power plant regulations that he says hurt the coal industry. He voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and supports developing the Keystone XL Pipeline.

3rd Congressional District

Incumbent Rep. John Yarmuth is running unopposed in the primary election and will face the winner of a three-way Republican primary in the general election.

Yarmuth has held the seat since 2007 and has endorsed Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. Yarmuth says he supports developing an equal pay law, affordable college tuition and a higher federal minimum wage.

Three Republicans have signed up for the chance to run against Yarmuth in the heavily Democratic district.

Republican Robert DeVore previously ran for the seat in 2008, losing to Anne Northup in the primary. A retired UPS worker and Navy veteran, he also ran for Louisville mayor in 2014 and was defeated by Mayor Greg Fischer.

Everett Corley, a real estate agent from Louisville, is running to increase immigration restrictions so that “only children who have American parents can become citizens,” according to his website. Corley joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans in filing a lawsuit to stop the removal of a Confederate statue from the University of Louisville campus.

Harold Bratcher, a real estate agent and owner of a trucking company, is also running as a Republican. He says he wants to lower taxes on the middle class and corporations.

4th Congressional District

Incumbent Rep. Thomas Massie is running unopposed in the primary election. He supports cutting the federal debt, reducing energy dependence on “hostile nations” and opposes “corporate welfare.”

Highland Heights resident Calvin Sidle is the only Democrat running for the seat. Sidle says he wants to fight for policies to combat climate change, invest in the nation’s infrastructure and combat drug addiction. At 31 years old, Sidle would be the youngest member of Congress.

5th Congressional District

Incumbent Hal Rogers has drawn a primary challenge from John Burk Jr. of Somerset.

Rogers is the chair of the once-influential Committee on Appropriations, a spot he's giving up after the current Congress expires. He’s also worked with former Gov. Steve Beshear to set up the Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative, which works to transition Eastern Kentucky’s economy through the decline in the coal industry.

No Democrats are running for the seat.

6th Congressional District

Incumbent Republican Andy Barr is being challenged in the primary by Roger Brill, a businessman from Cynthiana.

A Tea Party activist, Brill says he previously supported Barr but now opposes him because of a series of “bad votes.” Brill accuses Barr of not fighting hard enough to defund Planned Parenthood and establish a debt ceiling.

Barr is in his third term. He sits on the House Financial Services Committee and penned the Helping Expand Lending Practices in Communities Act, which allows communities to appeal for a more lenient lending classification.

Two Democrats are competing in the Democratic primary: Lexington engineer Geoff Young and part-time pastor Nancy Jo Kemper.

While working as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, Kemper lobbied against expanding casino gambling in the state. She supports incrementally increasing the federal minimum wage, investing in education vocational training and protecting Social Security and Medicaid.

Young most recently lost to former Attorney General Jack Conway in last year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. He says he wants to reduce military spending and put the money toward infrastructure improvements.

This story has been corrected to note that Sanders has won 7 of the 12 previous primary elections, not 10 out of 12.

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