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Morgan McGarvey gets nod over Attica Scott in Democratic Congressional primary

Attica Scott Morgan McGarvey speaking in the state legislature.
Legislative Research Commission
Attica Scott Morgan McGarvey speaking in the state legislature.

Kentucky Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey won the Democratic primary for the state's 3rd Congressional district seat, easily defeating state Rep. Attica Scott according to initial returns.

Longtime Congressman John Yarmuth is not seeking reelection to the seat, which he has held since 2006. This is the first open seat race since 1994 in the Louisville-area district.

In what was projected to be a tough contest, both candidates ran on progressive platforms with little contrast between where they stand on major policy issues. But McGarvey and Scott had different takes on how best to work with Republicans in the state legislature and Congress.

During a victory speech Tuesday night, McGarvey said his experience as a Democratic leader in Kentucky's Republican-dominated legislature will help him succeed.

"I know what you all probably think about Washington, I might think it too. But it's steeped in partisanship. So Is Frankfort. I refuse to accept the notion that we can't get things done anymore," McGarvey said.

As the state Senate’s Democratic leader, McGarvey has a track record of passing bills through the Republican-led legislature, arguing that he can reach across the aisle without forsaking Democratic values. Scott said she was open to meeting the GOP halfway, but also said she didn’t believe in “going along to get along.” McGarvey collected endorsements fast, receiving backing from major public figures and unions.

When she was first elected in 2016, Scott was the first Black woman in 20 years to serve in the legislature and previously was a member of the Louisville Metro Council from 2011 to 2014. At the height of the protests surrounding Breonna Taylor’s death, she pushed for racial and economic justice, protesting alongside marginalized communities.

McGarvey had a huge fundraising advantage over Scott, garnering more than $1.5 million as of his last filing. Scott had raised just over $230,000. McGarvey also received support from a crypto-billionaire funded PAC called Protect Our Future. Scott received just $1,000 from The New Power PAC of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth for campaign mailers.

Other congressional races

All five of Kentucky's Republican members of congress secured their nominations for reelection Tuesday night.
In the 1st District, incumbent Rep. James Comer ran unopposed and will face Democrat Jimmy Ausbrooks, a mental health counselor.

2nd District Rep. Brett Guthrie defeated self-proclaimed legislative chaplain Lee Watts and will face Democratic musician and producer Hank Linderman.

4th District Rep. Thomas Massie routed a handful of Republican challengers and will face Democratic biotech executive Matt Lehman, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
5th District Rep. Hal Rogers, the longest-serving member of Congress, will run against Democrat Conor Halbleib, a University of Louisville law school student.

6th District Rep. Andy Barr easily won his nomination and will face perennial Democratic political candidate Geoff Young.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel issued a statement, saying the victories attest to "Republican enthusiasm across the Bluegrass State."

"Kentuckians reject Biden and Democrats’ failed policies that have created 40-year high inflation, a crisis at the southern border, and a surge in crime, and instead are embracing commonsense Republican policies," she said.

This story has been updated.

Divya is LPM's Race & Equity Reporter. Email Divya at dkarthikeyan@lpm.org.