Over the next month, as we prepare for the 2020 elections, Yesh Ginsburg and Steen Kirby will give a general overview of all 435 United States House of Representatives races. This is a basic overview to introduce you to the major candidates. All Partisan Lean numbers are taken from the Cook Partisan Voting Index. We will update this page as the races progress if anything noteworthy arises.

Republicans control five of Kentucky’s six Congressional Districts. None of the districts are expected to change parties, but there are still plenty of interesting candidates running. Let’s meet them before the November elections.

Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District

Incumbent: James Comer Jr. (Republican, second term)

Partisan Lean: R+23

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
James Comer Jr. (R) 172,167 68.59
Paul Walker (D) 78,849 31.41

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
James Comer Jr. (R) 216,959 72.56
Sam Gaskins (D) 81,710 27.33

Republican Candidate:

James Comer Jr. (campaign website)

Comer is a conservative Republican who is running on his record in Congress the last four years. In this ruby red district, he should have no problem winning regardless.

Democratic Candidate:

James Rhodes (campaign website)

Rhodes is running on his life and service, including his military career. (Sharing a name with a Marvel Comics superhero could be a great point in this area, though I haven’t found that he’s using it in the campaign.) It’s a nice campaign in this district, and he could likely earn a relatively respectable result.

Kentucky’s 2nd Congressional District

Incumbent: Brett Guthrie (Republican, sixth term)

Partisan Lean: R+19

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Brett Guthrie (R) 171,700 66.72
Hank Linderman (D) 79,964 31.07
Thomas Loecken (I) 5,681 2.21

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Brett Guthrie (R) 251,823 100

Republican Candidate:

Brett Guthrie (campaign website)

Guthrie is a small government conservative who touts his support for President Trump, as well as his strong pro-life and pro-guns stances. He should be very safe in this Republican district.

Democratic Candidate:

Hank Linderman (campaign website)

Linderman is a very interesting Democrat running on the notion that rural America has been left behind. The method of addressing this likely doesn’t fit his district’s beliefs, but it’s definitely an interesting tactic. How well it works could give Democrats a hint moving forward how to move into heavy Republican areas.

Yesh’s notes: There is also an independent in this race, Lewis Carter, running on the notion that he is a real “Tea Party” conservative and that Guthrie is no longer as conservative as he once was. It’s extremely unlikely this will impact the race, but between Carter and Libertarian Robert Perry, Guthrie does have two candidates coming after him from his right.

Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District

Incumbent: John Yarmuth (Democratic, seventh term)

Partisan Lean: D+6

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
John Yarmuth (D) 173,002 62.07
Vickie Yates Glisson (R) 101,930 36.57
Gregory Boles (L) 3,788 1.36

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
John Yarmuth (D) 212,401 63.5
Harold Bratcher (R) 122,093 36.5

Republican Candidate:

Rhonda Palazzo (campaign website)

Palazzo came through a very tight primary, barely squeaking by the much better funded Mike Craven. She is a small government conservative focusing on tangible issues like healthcare and the economy, while also addressing “culture war” issues. No Republican has come within ten points of Yarmuth since he flipped the seat back in 2006.

Democratic Candidate:

John Yarmuth (campaign website)

Yarmuth is a moderate Democrat who can skew further to the liberal side on some issues. He has held this district since he first won it over a decade ago. He doesn’t raise or spend much money, but he hasn’t needed it to win elections here.

Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District

Incumbent: Thomas Massie (Republican, fourth term)

Partisan Lean: R+18

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Thomas Massie (R) 162,946 62.24
Seth Hall (D) 90,536 34.58
Mike Moffett (I) 8,318 3.18

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Thomas Massie (R) 233,922 71.32
Calvin Sidle (D) 94,065 28.68

Republican Candidate:

Thomas Massie (campaign website)

Massie was one of the two actual libertarian Republicans in the 116th Congress. The other, Justin Amash, left the Republican Party over President Trump’s personal and political actions, while Massie has steadfastly remained a Republican and touts his support for the President as part of his campaign.

Democratic Candidate:

Alexandra Owensby (campaign website)

Owensby is a very moderate (almost conservative) Democrat, whose proposals for how to deal with healthcare costs, education costs, and climate change are generally goals and platitudes, rather than specific policy proposals. It’s the right tactic to take in this district, but it won’t unseat Massie.

Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District

Incumbent: Hal Rogers (Republican, 20th term)

Partisan Lean: R+31

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Hal Rogers (R) 172,093 78.94
Kenneth Stepp (D) 45,890 21.05

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Hal Rogers (R) 221,242 100

Republican Candidate:

Hal Rogers (campaign website)

Rogers is a conservative rural Republican who has served this district for 40 years. He is tied with Chris Smith for the third-longest serving Congressman. Rogers has only once been held under 65% in an election, so there’s not much to discuss here.

Democratic Candidate:

Matthew Ryan Best

Best has no campaign website and doesn’t seem to be actively campaigning.

Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District

Incumbent: Andy Barr (Republican, fourth term)

Partisan Lean: R+9

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Andy Barr (R) 154,468 51
Amy McGrath (D) 144,730 47.78

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Andy Barr (R) 202,099 61.09
Nancy Jo Kemper (D) 128,728 38.91

Republican Candidate:

Andy Barr (campaign website)

Barr is a consistent Republican in Congress who came close to losing this seat two years ago. He is a fiscal conservative who prefers market-based solutions for healthcare issues.

Yesh’s notes: Barr is the most vulnerable Kentucky Republican this cycle, and Amy McGrath’s Senate race could have impact her, since this is her home district. Also, Libertarian Frank Harris pulled about .7% of the vote last election, and he’s running again. If this race is even closer than 2018, that can have an impact.

Democratic Candidate:

Josh Hicks (campaign website)

Hicks is running a campaign tailored for this district. He is promoting increasing rural hospitals, fighting the opioid epidemic, and local economic and agriculture issues. Hicks is well-funded and has raised plenty of money to make a serious race of this.

Overview

Republicans control five of the six seats in Kentucky. They’re not taking Yarmuth’s seat, but they might lose Barr’s if things don’t go well.

Interested in the rest of our primers for other House races? We have them all listed on our primer home page.

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