Four Democrats and four Republicans are competing for their party’s nominations in Kentucky’s May 21 gubernatorial primaries. The general election will take place on November 5. The position last changed partisan hands in 2015, when current governor Matt Bevin (R) defeated Jack Conway (D).
The Democrats running are Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, state Attorney General Andy Beshear, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, and retired engineer Geoff Young. Edelen has led the group in fundraising and spending. Beshear has led in the one public poll conducted and several internal campaign polls released by the candidates. Fifteen televised ads have aired on behalf of candidates in this race.
On the Republican side, Gov. Bevin faces state Rep. Robert Goforth, Ike Lawrence, and William E. Woods. Bevin and Goforth are the only candidates to raise significant funds so far, with the two only about $50,000 apart. No public polls have been released in the race to this point. While he has not earned the endorsement of President Donald Trump (R), Bevin did hold a campaign event at which Vice President Mike Pence (R) spoke.
Secretary of State Alison Grimes (D) announced on May 2 that a record 3,421,796 Kentuckians were registered to vote in the gubernatorial primary. In 2015, 392,701 votes were cast in both primaries combined.
Heading into the election, Kentucky is a Republican trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the governor’s office and both chambers of the Kentucky State Legislature. There are 22 Republican trifectas, 14 Democratic trifectas, and 13 divided governments where neither party holds trifecta control.