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Kentucky’s congressional delegation easily wins primaries

Wristbands handed out during the 2024 primary election in Kentucky on Tuesday May 21, 2024.
Giselle Rhoden
Wristbands handed out during the 2024 primary election in Kentucky on Tuesday May 21, 2024.

All six of Kentucky’s U.S. representatives are up for reelection this year, but two will face no Democratic opponent in the general election this fall.

Only half of Kentucky’s six U.S. congressmen faced primary challenges Tuesday, with all three easily winning their party’s nomination.

Republican Reps. Thomas Massie and Hal Rogers both won their primaries and are virtually assured of reelection, as they’ll face no Democratic challenger in the general election this fall.

In the only congressional race with both a Republican and Democratic primary, freshman Democratic Rep. Morgan McGarvey of Louisville easily won his party’s nomination against Jared Randall and Geoffrey Young.

McGarvey will be the presumed general election favorite in the heavily Democratic district, facing Republican Mike Craven, who won over Denny Ormerod in the GOP primary.

Massie handily beat his two challengers, Eric Deters and Michael McGinnis, winning 76% of the vote.

Massie is a member of the House Liberty Caucus, a libertarian-leaning faction of the GOP that often challenges the leadership of the party by taking a hard line against federal spending and intervention. He won easily despite the super PAC of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee spending $328,675 on television ads criticizing him for voting against aid for Israel.

Deters, who picked up nearly 6% of the vote in the Republican primary last year in his run for governor, finished with less than 12% of the vote, finishing third behind McGinnis, who ran a limited campaign.

In a statement, Massie called his victory “a referendum on thousands of independent votes I have cast in Washington DC on behalf of Kentucky’s 4th District.”

“I’ve consistently upheld the Constitution, by voting for and sponsoring legislation to support the right to keep and bear arms, the right to free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to privacy,” said Massie. “I’ve also fought against endless foreign wars, foreign aid, and inflationary policies, regardless of who is in the White House.”

In eastern Kentucky’s District 5, Rogers easily beat his three Republican opponents to win his party’s nomination, with no Democratic opponent between him and his 23rd term this fall.

Rogers is the dean of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving with the longest continuous term since 1981. Rogers is credited with directing large amounts of federal appropriations back home to his eastern Kentucky district — as well making it a hub for incarceration, with 16 state and federal prisons — by leveraging his past leadership positions in the House budget committees.

Three Republican congressmen did not appear on a primary ballot Tuesday — Reps. James Comer, Andy Barr and Brett Guthrie — as no one from their party chose to challenge them for the seat.

Comer will face Democrat Erin Marshall of Frankfort, who also faced no primary opponent. Marshall has already run aggressive ads hitting Comer on his opposition to abortion rights and past allegations of abuse that he has denied.

Comer has gained national attention as the chair of the House Oversight Committee since 2023, where he has led investigations into President Joe Biden’s family.

Guthrie will also have a Democratic opponent in the general election, as Hank Linderman defeated William Compton in the primary with 57% of the vote.

Five Democrats ran for the nomination to challenge Barr in central Kentucky’s Sixth District. Randy Cravens won a very narrow victory, finishing with 26% — and just 201 more votes than second-place finisher Todd Kelly.

State government and politics reporting is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Joe is the enterprise statehouse reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Lexington, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email Joe at jsonka@lpm.org.
Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Lexington, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.

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