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How NKY Voted on Primary Day in Kentucky

The ballot for Kentucky's statewide election in November is set.

Governor Matt Bevin was renominated by the Republican Party on Tuesday night, but not by the kind of margin an incumbent governor is expected to enjoy. With a recent poll showing Bevin as the least popular governor in the nation, he faced an unusually strong challenge from State Rep. Robert Goforth (R-East Bernstadt). Bevin was declared the winner by the Associated Press with over 70 percent of the state's precincts reporting by just an 11-point margin, 51-40.

Goforth swept much of eastern Kentucky while Bevin took the rest, including the more densely populated areas of Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentucky. 

With three-quarters of the precincts reporting, Bevin won Kenton County by 27 points. He carried Boone by 13 points, earning just a little more than 50 percent of the vote. Bevin failed to reach the 50-percent threshold in Campbell County, winning by about ten points, 48-38, with a pair of lesser known candidates taking the remainder. 

Bevin also scored only 52 percent of the vote in Grant County where he won 53-37 over Goforth. The margin of victory was larger for Bevin in Bracken County where he garnered 60 percent to Goforth's 20 with the remainder split between William Woods (14) and Ike Lawrence (5).

Pendleton County gave Bevin 56 percent to Goforth's 34. Bevin won just 52 percent in Gallatin.

For the Democrats, it was a tight three-way race in which State Rep. Rocky Adkins (R-Sandy Hook) led for much of the early part of the night, racking up wins in the state's rural counties. But when the numbers from Louisville came in, Attorney General Andy Beshear overtook Adkins. Former state auditor Adam Edelen, who largely targeted Beshear in attack ads late in the race, finished in third place, winning just two counties, his native Meade, and neighboring Breckinridge. 

The numbers out of Northern Kentucky were strong for Beshear, whose father served as governor from 2007 to 2015 and also performed well in traditionally Republican Northern Kentucky during his two campaigns. Beshear won Boone, Kenton, Campbell, and Grant, while Adkins won Gallatin, Pendleton, and Bracken.

The numbers:


Beshear 55

Adkins 21

Edelen 19


(with 102 of 106 precincts reporting)

Beshear 53

Edelen 24

Adkins 18


Beshear 49

Edelen 26

Adkins 19

A Beshear-Bevin race will be a more formal appeal to voters by two heated rivals and a continuation of incessant legal battles over the past three-plus years as Beshear routinely challenged Bevin decisions in court, winning more often than not.

Northern Kentucky also came out strong for State Sen. Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) in his bid to win the Republican nomination for attorney general. Former general counsel to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, Daniel Cameron, ultimately won the race. Cameron, who becomes the first African-American nominated by a major party to statewide office in Kentucky, questioned Schroder's Republican-ness, prompting Schroder to focus his more recent ads to showcase his GOP bona fides. 

Cameron had a 10-point lead, 55-45, with 71 percent of statewide precincts reporting.

However, Northern Kentucky did its part for the local candidate. Schroder won 73 percent in Kenton County, 71 in Boone, 72 in Campbell, 63 in Grant, 83 in Bracken, and 80 percent in Gallatin.

Schroder, who conceded the race at about 8:30 p.m., would have created a special election opportunity in his 23rd senate district, which encompasses all of Campbell, Bracken, and Pendleton counties. But with the loss, Schroder, who was reelected to his second four-year term last year, will stay in the upper chamber in Frankfort. 

Cameron will face former Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who lost his house seat in 2016, and who was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Stumbo previously served as attorney general when Ernie Fletcher (R) was governor.

In the Secretary of State GOP primary, another Northern Kentuckian overperformed in his home region while finishing a distant third overall. Stephen Knipper, of Erlanger, and a former Erlanger city councilman, won 36 percent of the vote in Kenton County in the four-way race, enough to top the field. He lost Campbell by one vote. Michael Adams won the nomination, with Andrew English finishing second.

Adams will face former Miss America Heather French Henry, who easily won the Democratic nomination. 

In other races, Sheri Donahue won the Democratic primary for state auditor over Kelsey Hayes Coots and Chris Tobe. She will face incumbent Republican Mike Harmon, who was unopposed in the primary.

Michael Bowman won the Democratic nomination for state treasurer over Josh Mers and will face incumbent Republican Allison Ball, who was unopposed in the GOP primary.

Robert Haley Conway won the Democratic nomination for agriculture commissioner over Joe Trigg and will take on incumbent Ryan Quarles, who easily won renomination on the Republican side, beating Bill Polyniak, 82-18.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

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