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Candidates run unopposed in 40% of Kentucky House and Senate districts

Senate President Pro Tempore David P. Givens, R-Greensburg, (left) confers with Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, on the Senate floor during Wednesday’s chamber proceedings.
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Senate President Pro Tempore David P. Givens, R-Greensburg, (left) confers with Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, on the Senate floor.

Candidates are set for Kentucky’s 2024 elections, but many races have little or no competition.

Imagine posting a job opening and having to hire the only person who sent in a resume. That’s what is happening in more than a third of state legislative seats.

Before a single vote has been cast, 40 percent of the Kentucky House and Senate seats up for grabs this year have practically been won.

Candidates for state and federal offices had to file with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office by Friday afternoon in order to be eligible for the May 21, 2024 primary. The general election is November 5.

Eighty-three candidates waited until the last possible week to complete the necessary paperwork.

After all the filing was complete, LPM News analyzed the party affiliation for all 192 eligible candidates for the Kentucky House of Representatives and 36 candidates in the Kentucky Senate.

Kentucky House of Representatives

Democrats fielded 43 seats with a challenger while Republicans fielded candidates in all but a dozen districts.

When only one party fields candidates on the ballot, primaries are powerful — they decide who wins the whole election.

Regardless of party affiliation, 40 seats only had one candidate file their application to be a member of the House. That means, barring something unusual, those candidates will win the job simply by getting their name on the ballot.

Of those 40 completely uncontested candidates, 34 were Republican and six were Democrats.

A handful of House districts will have rather crowded primaries. House District 29 in southeast Jefferson County has a total of six candidates, three each registered as a Democrat or Republican.

Eight House lawmakers are retiring (five Republicans and three Democrats) and another four are running for another office.

Kentucky Senate

In 2024, only the odd-numbered Senate districts (19 out of 38) are up for grabs.

Democrats will leave eight of those seats up for a Republican primary to decide. Republicans left half of that on the table for Democrats to control.

Putting party aside, eight candidates have no competition and will likely sail into a Senate seat.

By the numbers, the most competitive Senate race is in District 7 where three Republicans and one Democrat have filed to run.

Four state senators are retiring: three on the Republican side of the aisle, the other a Democrat.

Correction: A previous version of this story listed the number of open House and Senate seats as the number of eligible candidates. That has been updated.

Justin is LPM's Data Reporter. Email Justin at jhicks@lpm.org.