Friday, May 19, 2000

Kentucky primary a snoozer in these parts

But McCain, Bradley still on ballot

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Incumbent legislators generally avoided competition for re-election from within their own parties this year, but those who drew primary fights have found some tough going.

        All the incumbents who have contests on Tuesday are Democrats, and most of those are relatively inexperienced in either their first or second terms.

        There are nine state Senate primaries, including three that involve Democratic incumbents. Of the 18 state House primaries, 10 involve incumbents.

        Twenty-year veteran Sen. Benny Ray Bailey, D-Hindman, is the most senior incumbent facing a challenge. His opponent, Johnny Ray Turner of Drift, has a well-financed campaign that includes advertising on expensive Lexington stations.

        Another eastern Kentucky Democrat, freshman Sen. Glenn Freeman of Cumberland, is in a bare-knuckle fight with Daniel Mongiardo, a Perry County doctor who is financing much of his own expensive campaign.

        Former Senate President Larry Saunders of Louisville, who angered many in his own party by enlisting Republicans in his own leadership elections to oust other Democrats, is being challenged by Buster Lampton of Louisville.

        One of the most intriguing House races is a sequel of a sequel of a sequel. Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Lexington, is being challenged by Jerry Lundergan, a Lexington caterer who held the seat until he ran afoul of the law on an ethics conviction that was later overturned on appeal because the statute of limitations had expired. This is the fourth race between the two, who are neighbors in a Lexington subdivision and whose children used to date.

        Six of the House Democratic primaries involve legislators in their first or second terms. Veterans John Arnold, D-Sturgis; Jim Gooch, D-Providence, and Tom Burch, D-Louisville, also have elections Tuesday.

        Republicans generally eschew primaries. No incumbent GOP legislator was challenged for renomination and there are only three senatorial primaries and four House primaries among Republicans.

        There is a statewide election, but in name only. Even though the presidential nominations are ceded to George W. Bush among the Republicans and Al Gore for the Democrats, there will still be a presidential primary in Kentucky.

        The other candidates, including former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley and Arizona Sen. John McCain, did not withdraw their candidacies in Kentucky, so any votes they receive will be counted.

        The congressional primaries also appear to be pro forma affairs.

        Incumbent 1st District Rep. Ed Whitfield is challenged, but by David L. Williams of Columbia, who didn't bother to campaign when he ran for governor last year. No other incumbent members of Congress are challenged from their own party.

        State Rep. Eleanor Jordan of Louisville has been ceded the 3rd District Democratic nomination for Congress, though she technically still has two opponents.

        Polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kentucky has closed primaries, which means voters can cast ballots only in the primaries of the party they are registered in.


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