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Your 2016 Primary Voter Guide: Kentucky Races


Even if you don’t know it, chances are you live in a state House or Senate district with a contested primary election Tuesday.

Of the 100 state House of Representatives districts, there are 91 that will have contested elections this fall. Half of the 38 state Senate seats are up for re-election as well, but only a handful of incumbent candidates have opponents.

In Louisville, we've highlighted four noteworthy legislative races where several incumbents have picked up new rivals.

41st House District

Incumbent Tom Riner is being challenged by former Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott and insurance agent Phil Baker.

Riner, a pastor and member of the House since 1982, brought to light sexual harassment charges made against a state legislator by two staffers in the Legislative Research Commission two years ago.

Riner criticized House members for creating “a culture of intimidation and sexism” in the legislature.

According to a CNHI report, Riner put Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in touch with religious freedom law firm Liberty Counsel when she refused to issue marriage licenses after same-sex marriage was legalized.

Candidate Scott accuses Riner of being an “ineffective representative” for the district, saying that he refuses to work with fellow House Democrats.

According to her website, Scott supports the automatic restoration of voting rights for felons, a statewide fairness law and ending the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Phil Baker says he wants to make sure all Kentucky workers have access to paid sick leave and supports legislation to expand the Child Care Assistance Program. He also wants to tighten regulations on gun dealers and require independent investigations of police involved deaths.

There are no Republicans running for the district.

33rd House District

Incumbent Ron Crimm was first elected to the House 20 years ago and at 80 years old is being challenged by candidates over half his age — attorney Jason Nemes, 38, and former Louisville Tea Party President Andrew Schachtner, 27.

Crimm is an insurance agent and serves on four committees in the House, including the influential Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

Nemes previously worked as the chief of staff for the Kentucky Supreme Court and director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. He loaned his campaign $50,000 and has bought radio ads touting an endorsement from former Kentucky Chief Justice Joe Lambert.

Schachtner, an accountant, says he supports lowering taxes, anti-abortion issues and right-to-work legislation. He opposes the Affordable Care Act and Kynect and “federal overreach in Kentucky affairs.”

38th House District

In the Democratic contest, former Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson and Equal Justice Center attorney McKenzie Cantrell are battling for the chance to take on Republican Rep. Denny Butler in the general election.

Each candidate claims to have the qualities that can defeat Butler in November — Cantrell is pushing her status as a first-time candidate.

“Don’t elect a politician, elect someone who has come to this position with the honest and real desire to represent you and your values,” she said.

Cantrell says she supports raising the state minimum wage, expanding paid sick and maternity leave and opposes right-to-work legislation.

Johnson, is one of the longest-serving elected officials in Louisville. He has been a Metro Council member since 2002 and before the city-county merger, he served on the old Louisville Board of Alderman since 1992.

“We have to have somebody that’s well-known that can take on Denny Butler this fall,” he said.

Johnson was sued by a local businessman for not paying a $15,000 debt in 2014.

Butler switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican after Gov. Matt Bevin was elected, a move that diminished Democrats’ narrow lead in the state House.

Butler, a retired police officer, has held the seat since 2013 and is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

33rd Senate District

Longtime West Louisville Sen. Gerald Neal is being challenged by retired Jefferson District Judge Toni Stringer and Neal’s former legislative aide, Charles Booker.

Neal, the minority party’s caucus chair in the Republican-led Senate, has been a vocal advocate for civil rights issues in the chamber.

But challengers Stringer and Booker have accused Neal of not getting enough done in his 27-year tenure.

Stringer was appointed as a Jefferson District Court judge in 2000, she calls for more government investment in West Louisville.

Booker says he wants to help local communities communicate better with state government and criticizes Neal for not doing enough to reduce the district’s crime rate.

The winner of the race will face either Sherita Rickman or John Yuen in the general election.

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