Political season has arrived!

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A look ahead at the 2018 and 2019 elections

By Zac Oakes


If you haven’t taken a drive around town lately, it is clear to see that political season locally is in full swing. 

Campaign signs are popping up everywhere it seems, and some are still left over from the May primary. It seems that, locally at least, political season really heats up beginning with the Fourth of July celebration, as candidates for local offices march in the parade or have booths set up. 

I love election season when it comes to politics. It has fascinated me for a long time, but within the last three years or so, I’ve started paying closer attention to campaigns and elections. I enjoy the behind-the-scenes aspect of things, the guessing of who will run for what office, how a particular candidate will approach their campaign, and the various —and often unseen — factors that play into elections. 

The local elections this year will be intriguing to watch, in my opinion, as will the state races in 2019. 

Here are a few local races I think people should pay particularly close attention to:

Campbellsville Mayor— Incumbent Tony Young and former mayor Brenda Allen will be facing off for the third consecutive time. I don’t have the statistics on how often this has occurred, but I can’t imagine that this scenario happens very often in Kentucky. The vote difference in the primary election between Young and Allen was razor thin, with Young edging Allen by only five votes, 735-730. In November, I’m expecting a close race as well, meaning voter turnout will be critical for each candidate. 

Taylor County Sheriff— The race for Taylor County sheriff is another race that I expect to be close. Incumbent Sheriff Allen Newton has led the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office since 2011, and has been a mainstay in that office even longer, working under former sheriffs John Shipp and Sonny Cave. Running against Newton for Sheriff is Shannon Wilson, who has an extensive law enforcement background, as well. Wilson has been with the Campbellsville Police Department for 18 years and has been in a supervisory role for the last six. Just my opinion, but I believe the sheriff’s office will be in more-than-capable hands with either of these men in charge, as both are more than qualified. I think this will be another very close race. 

Campbellsville City Council— From a numbers perspective, this race has a lot of intrigue. There are 21 candidates vying for 12 council seats. Eight incumbents are running for re-election, so there will be at least four new council members, with the possibility of more, come January. There are a variety of candidates running, some with experience and others running the first time for political office. The variety of ages and backgrounds, coupled with the sheer number of people running and at least four open seats, makes this race one of my races to watch. 

These obviously are not the only races to notice. The ballot will have plenty of races for local offices. District judge, circuit court clerk, magistrate races, and several others will provide local residents with plenty of options, no matter where you live. Make sure you spend time looking into the candidates, talking with them when you get the chance, and asking questions to make sure you make the most informed decision when you head to the polls in November. 

Now to the state races in 2019. 

Those races seem like a long way off, but the annual Fancy Farm Picnic is this upcoming weekend, and that means we will start to see more news about the 2019 statewide office elections trickle out. 

One candidate, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, has already declared his candidacy to be Kentucky’s next governor. Beshear was recently in Taylor County at a local Democratic Party fundraiser, where he was well-received by the 180-or-so people there. On the Democratic side, I still expect to see at least one, and maybe two more candidates file for governor. Rocky Adkins, the House Minority Floor Leader, will almost certainly file to run for governor. In talking with Adkins at the event, he said he is “giving it serious consideration.” 

I fully expect him to jump in the race. 

The wildcard for the Democrats, in my opinion, is Adam Edelen, the former Kentucky state auditor. Edelen lost his 2015 re-election bid as Republicans had a strong showing in the election in which Matt Bevin (more on him in a minute) defeated Jack Conway to become the next governor of Kentucky. 

If Edelen enters the race, along with Beshear and Adkins, that makes for a very competitive Democratic primary with no clear favorite of who emerges. Any of the three could, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise. 

On the Republican side, I’ve long thought Matt Bevin would opt to not seek re-election. I was convinced of that for a long time, but I believe things have changed now, and Bevin will seek re-election in the governor’s race. 

That will change the dynamics on the GOP side. Prominent Republicans that likely would’ve run for the office if Bevin had opted not to run will most likely shy away from it now. 

I think Bevin will have a challenger in the GOP primary if he indeed does decide to run, but it will be an opponent that Bevin will easily be able to defeat, in my opinion. Who will that be? We will just have to wait and see.

Bevin’s favorability ratings dropped significantly this year, but you can’t count him out in the governor’s race. He was a heavy underdog in 2015, in both the primary and general elections, but was able to come out on top. Counting Bevin out would be a mistake, in my opinion.  

Elsewhere on the ballot, I think Allison Ball and Mike Harmon will win re-election to their seats as state treasurer and state auditor, respectively. Kentucky will have a new secretary of state, since Alison Lundergan-Grimes is term-limited for that office. I would look for Grimes to possibly enter the attorney general race, with State Sen. Whitney Westerfield on the GOP side for that office. As for secretary of state, Stephen Knipper nearly won the seat in 2015 as a Republican, and another Republican, McCraken County native Michael Adams, an election law attorney who recently served on the State Board of Elections have filed, but there aren’t a lot of rumors running around on who else may file for that seat, if anyone.

Political season is here, and for political junkies like myself, the fun is just beginning.