Election Preview: U.S. Rep., State Rep., State Senate, and KY Supreme Court

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This is the first part of a four-part series previewing the 2018 November Election

By Zac Oakes


This is the first in a four-part series previewing the 2018 general election. This week focuses on the races for U.S. Representative (KY-01), State Senate, State House, and the Kentucky Supreme Court 3rd District. 


Voters will have plenty of options when they head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6. From local elections to state legislators to U.S. Congress and the Kentucky Supreme Court, several positions will be up for grabs during this election cycle. 


U.S. Representative- Kentucky 1st Congressional District

The race for the United States House of Representatives for Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District will involve incumbent Republican James Comer and Democratic challenger Paul Walker. 

Comer, a former state legislator and Kentucky commissioner of agriculture, has served as the representative for KY-01 since 2016 after being elected to fulfill the remaining term of former representative Ed Whitfield. 

Comer, a Tompkinsville native, has used his background in agriculture to earn a spot on the Farm Bill Conference Committee to iron out details for the bill that will hold great importance for many across the nation involved in agriculture. 

Walker, from Murray, has been an English professor at Murray State University for the last 11 years. According to his campaign website, he previously worked as a U. S. Forest Service firefighter and as a Grand Canyon river outfitter.

Comer was uncontested in the May primary, while Walker won the Democratic nomination by handily defeating Hopkinsville native Alonzo Pennington in May. Walker earned 51,094 votes (74.6 percent) to Pennington’s 17,398 (25.4 percent). 

Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District includes Adair, Allen, Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Casey, Christian, Clinton, Crittenden, Cumberland, Fulton, Graves, Henderson, Hickman, Hopkins, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, McLean, Metcalfe, Monroe, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Russell, Simpson, Todd, Trigg, Union, Webster, Marion, Taylor, and part of Washington counties.


Kentucky House of Representatives- 51st District (Taylor and Adair counties)

Republican incumbent John “Bam” Carney is seeking re-election to his seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives. While Carney will not have any opposition on the ballot, he will face a challenge from write-in candidate Richard Steele. 

Carney was elected to office in 2008 and has served as chair of the House Education Committee the last two years and was recently named co-chair of the legislature’s School Safety Working Group. 

Steele filed as a write-in candidate April 4, 2018, just days after the Kentucky Legislature passed Senate Bill 151, overhauling the pension system for the state’s educators and other public employees. Steele cited the pension issue as one of his biggest motivators for entering the race, along with charter schools, among other issues.

Carney and Steele are both Taylor County residents. Voters from Taylor and Adair counties will vote for 51st District Representative.


Kentucky State Senate- 16th District (Taylor, Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Russell, and Wayne counties) 

Republican incumbent Max Wise is seeking re-election to his seat in the Kentucky Senate, but he also will not face any opposition on the ballot; he is being challenged by a write-in candidate, Nicole Britton. 

Wise was first elected in 2014 after challenging incumbent Sara Beth Gregory and defeating her in the 2014 Republican primary. During his time in the Senate, Wise co-sponsored the 2015 Heroin Bill, a wide-sweeping bill that addressed drug trafficking and addiction recovery. He also was chosen to chair the Senate Education Committee last year and co-chaired the School Safety Working Group with Carney. 

Britton filed as a write-in candidate March, 29, 2018, the same day legislators passed Senate Bill 151. Britton, from Campbellsville, is an educator in the Bardstown School District. 

The 16th district is made up of seven counties, including Taylor County. 


Kentucky Justice of the Supreme Court- 3rd District (includes Taylor County) 

A new justice will be elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court in November, and Taylor County voters will have a say in who is elected to Kentucky’s highest court. 

Voters will have two candidates to choose from: Debra Hembree Lambert, of Burnside, or Dan Ballou, from Williamsburg. 

Lambert and Ballou received the most votes in a three-person primary in May from the 3rd District voters, which includes Taylor County, along with Adair, Bell, Casey, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Estill, Garrard, Green, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Lincoln, Marion, McCreary, Metcalfe, Monroe, Nelson, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, Washington, Wayne, and Whitley counties. 

In the May primary, Lambert won the three-person race with nearly 50 percent of the vote, while Ballou narrowly took second to advance to the fall, defeating third-place finisher David Tapp by just 51 votes. 

Lambert more than doubled Tapp, who finished second locally, by collecting 3,157 votes compared to Tapp’s 1,229. 

Lambert currently serves on the Kentucky Court of Appeals in the same district. Ballou, a former U.S. Marine and district judge, has been circuit judge for Whitley and McCreary Counties since 2007.

Current Justice of the Supreme Court Daniel Venters opted not to seek re-election in 2018. 


The November General Election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 6. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. 


 Next week, we will preview the local races for circuit court clerk, jailer, and the soil and water conservation district.