There is less than a day left before Kentucky concludes its first-ever “no excuses needed” three-day early voting period ahead of the state’s May 17 primaries and, by all accounts, turnout has been steady and the process smooth.
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams was among the first to cast a ballot when early voting polls opened on May 12 in Louisville.
“I took advantage of our new no-excuse early voting today,” he told reporters as he left the voting site. “It was quick and easy.”
Saturday’s conclusion of the three-day early voting period follows in-person “excused” absentee early voting on May 4–6 and May 9–11. Mail-in absentee ballots were due May 3. The turnout figures for earlier voting periods have not been posted yet.
State lawmakers created the “no excuses necessary” early voting period during their 2021 legislative session in a rare bipartisan pact to expand voting access. Early votes won’t be counted until after polls close.
Adams said that voting in Kentucky “has never been more accessible or more secure” in a statement last week.
“Following Kentucky’s uniquely bipartisan election reform legislation, we are excited to see early voting implemented in statute for the first time since 1891, and hopeful voters will utilize their new options and go vote,” he said.
The May 17 primary slate includes municipal elections and inter-party battles for the state’s General Assembly, one U.S. Senate berth, and six U.S. Congressional seats.
Two-term Republican United States Sen. Rand Paul faces five little-known, marginally financed hopefuls in his GOP primary.
His campaign is already targeting likely November Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Charles Booker, also projected to breeze past three challengers.
Across the six congressional districts, there are 31 candidates entered in primary races; 22 Republicans, including five GOP incumbents, and nine Democrats.
Five Republican incumbents have significant fundraising advantages over opponents and are projected to advance.
The one race guaranteed to produce a newcomer is in Congressional District 3 (CD 3), where eight-term Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth is retiring.
Two state lawmakers—Sen. Morgan McGarvey and Rep. Attica Scott—are vying for his seat in the Democratic primary for the Louisville-area district, the only one rated by the Cook Partisan Voting Index as leaning blue in Bluegrass State.
While the five Republican congressional incumbents—U.S. Reps. Jamie Comer, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Hal Rogers, and Andy Barr—are all heavily favored to return to Washington, D.C., several are engaged in contentious, if not competitive, races against outgunned but outspoken interparty rivals.
Five-term incumbent Massie, in particular, has taken heat from his CD 4 Republican challengers for his actions and antics in recent years, including being called a “third-rate grandstander” who should be “thrown out of the party” after voting against a coronavirus relief package by former president Donald Trump.
Massie was also among the six House members who voted against legislation targeting Russia for its invasion of Ukraine because it contained “language that could set the table for bringing spurious war crimes charges against American service members.”
He has been criticized by members of both parties for voting against a bill outlawing lynching, repeatedly proposing the dissolution of the U.S. Department of Education, and his 2021 Christmas family photo, which featured him and his family hoisting semi-automatic rifles days after four students were gunned down in a Michigan high school.
Trump, however, has not endorsed any of his opponents, which include perennial independent candidate Alyssa Dara McDowell of Covington, who famously stormed a 2019 Election Night stage to falsely claim incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin had won reelection against Democrat Andy Beshears, and Prospect real estate agent Claire Wirth, who argues Massie—recognized as an ultra-conservative—isn’t conservative enough.
Wirth, in particular, has been vocally critical of Massie in appealing to Trump voters, noting her entrenched incumbent opponent did not support Trump’s call for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and is not aggressively pursuing election fraud following a “stolen” presidential election.
Massie has raised $731,985 for his campaign, according to his April FEC filing, while Wirth reported $254,120 in campaign donations—$238,116 self-funded.
McDowell and a third GOP challenger, George Foking Washington—a filmmaker from Independence who has mostly campaigned via Youtube videos—did not meet thresholds for April FEC filings.
Massie has spent little time campaigning and is rumored to be pondering a run for governor, but his campaign did invest in commissioning Robert Blizzard of Virginia-based Public Opinion Strategies to conduct an internal poll to gauge his standing with voters.
According to the survey of 300 CD 4 Republican primary voters, Massie has a 66-point lead in his primary with none of his three challengers garnering more than 10 percent of respondents’ votes.
Wirth tallied 9 percent. Despite claiming she is Trumpier than Massie, the incumbent was preferred by 53 percent more self-identified “Trump voters” to Wirth.