Monday, May 17, 2004

Primaries set up House battle

Republicans gear up for assault on Democratic stronghold

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Legislative primary elections Tuesday set the stage for a Republican assault on the state Democratic Party's last political bastion - the Kentucky House.

Gone are the days when more than 50 House Democrats would have no Republican opposition, ensuring a continuation of Democratic control before the first ballot was cast.

This year, the GOP fielded candidates for 34 House seats held by Democrats. Twenty-three Democrats were unopposed for re-election - as were 18 Republicans. Three from each party had an opponent in the primary but none in the general election.

The Democratic majority currently is 65-34 with one vacancy.

"Our goal is to make every race competitive," said John McCarthy, chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party. "Our sole purpose is to put more Republicans in office. We are hopeful we can gain more seats in the House."

In Senate primaries, six incumbents have primary opposition. Top matchups include a Republican primary in which state Rep. Charlie Walton of Florence is trying to move up against Senate President Pro Tem Dick Roeding of Lakeside Park.

Another race being watched pits Republican Sen. Albert Robinson of London against Tom Jensen, a former state GOP chairman.

Also on the statewide ballot, U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning is being challenged a second time by Barry Metcalf, a former state senator from Richmond. Bunning won their 1998 primary by nearly 100,000 votes.

There are congressional primaries for at least one party in all but the 1st District.

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