With the candidate filing deadline for statewide offices expiring a 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, the field is now set for the primary races that will take place on May 21 to determine each party’s nominee in the races for governor, attorney general, auditor of public accounts, secretary of state, commissioner of agriculture and treasurer.

Here is a rundown of the Republican and Democratic candidates that have filed to run for each of these constitutional offices.

Governor and Lt. Governor

Gov. Matt Bevin | Photo by Joe Sonka

Gov. Matt Bevin finally made his re-election bid official on Friday, but this time he will not be running with his current Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton. Instead, the governor chose state Sen. Ralph Alvarado of Winchester, a physician who has sponsored legislation to limit medical malpractice lawsuits and create tax credits for K-12 students to attend private schools.

Republican Congressman James Comer considered a primary challenge against Bevin but issued a statement Sunday night explaining his decision not to make such a run – though not without adding a searing criticism of the governor’s behavior during his first term.

Instead, Bevin will face a trio of political newcomers in the Republican primary, including state Rep. Robert Goforth, William Woods of Corinth and Ike Lawrence of Lexington.

Goforth, a veteran and pharmacist, won a special election last February to the state House and won that seat again in November. He chose Lawrence County attorney Michael Hogan as his running mate, who lost a close primary race for attorney general in 2015.

Goforth has criticized Bevin for his harsh words toward teachers who protested his public pension reform proposal, support for charter schools, and the expansion of gambling with instant racing facilities that resemble slot machines.

Woods has a platform of opposition to Bevin’s pension bill, support for abortion rights and support for medical marijuana, with that tax revenue steered toward providing every public school with armed guards. Justin Miller of Florence is his running mate.

Lawrence, who filed for office just hours before Tuesday’s deadline, ran for mayor of Lexington last year, winning less than 2 percent of the vote in the primary.  James Anthony Rose, also from Lexington, is his running mate.

Andy Beshear

On the Democratic side, the primary has shaped up as a three-way fight of big-name candidates, including Attorney General Andy Beshear, House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins and the former state Auditor Adam Edelen.

Beshear chose Jacqueline Coleman as his running mate, a teacher, basketball coach and current assistant principal at Nelson County High School. The other two gubernatorial candidates both looked to Louisville for their running mates, with Adkins choosing the former Jefferson County Board of Education member Steph Horne, and Edelen tapping the prominent businessman Gill Holland.

Perennial candidate Geoff Young — who has lost by wide margins in five races over the last seven years — is also running as a Democrat on a ticket with Josh French. Young, from Lexington, received less than 2 percent of the vote last year in the Democratic primary for the Sixth Congressional District.

Attorney General

Former House Speaker and AG Greg Stumbo | Via LRC Public Information

A week ago, state Sen. Whitney Westerfield was the only Republican to have filed to run for attorney general, but his unexpected withdrawal from the race has changed the landscape of the party’s primary.

Just before Westerfield’s withdrawal, Republican Daniel Cameron of Louisville — a former attorney for Sen. Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate — filed to enter the primary. Just an hour after that withdrawal, Cameron was joined in the primary by state Sen. Wil Schroder, a Republican from Wilder who was just elected to his second term in November.

On the Democratic side, the former House Speaker and former attorney general Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg has filed to return to the latter position. Stumbo served as the speaker of the House for eight years before his upset defeat in 2016, the same year that Republicans swept into the majority in that chamber.

Stumbo can focus on the general election right away, as no other Democrats filed to run for attorney general this year.

Auditor of Public Accounts

State Auditor Mike Harmon

Auditor Mike Harmon is running for a second term and will not face a Republican primary challenger this May, but he will face one of the four Democratic candidates who filed for the office in the general election.

The four Democrats facing off in the primary Chris Tobe, Kelsey Hayes Coots, Sheri Donohue and Drew Curtis.

Tobe is a financial analyst and former trustee of the Kentucky Retirement Systems who authored the book “Kentucky Fried Pensions,” which documented the financial woes and lack of transparency in the management of those public pension plans.

Coots is a public school teacher in Louisville who is a leader in the KY120 movement that sprung from opposition to the Republican public pension bill in 2018.

Donohue of Louisville is a former civil engineer with the Navy, who won the Democratic nomination to run for state Senate in District 36 last year before losing to Sen. Julie Raque Adams in the general election.

Curtis founded Fark.com in 1999 and ran for governor as an independent candidate in 2015, winning 3.7 percent of the vote. He registered as a Democrat late last year.

Secretary of State

Heather French Henry

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is term-limited from running for the office again, and now there will be a four-way primary among both Republicans and Democrats vying to be her successor.

The Republican candidates running for secretary of state are Michael Adams, Andrew English, Stephen Knipper and Carl “Trump” Nett.

Nett’s name is not a typo, as the “Trump” nickname will appear on the ballot. From Louisville, Nett lost a race for state House in 2016 against the former Rep. Jim Wayne and made headlines for tweeting about shooting Congressman John Yarmuth in the chest.

Adams is an attorney from Louisville who has worked with prominent Republican candidates and political committees in Kentucky and around the country.

English is a Navy veteran from Crestwood who recently served as general counsel to the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Knipper, a Tea Party leader from northern Kentucky, was the Republican nominee for secretary of state in 2015, losing a close race that year to Grimes.

On the Democratic side, the four candidates in the primary are Heather French Henry, Jason Griffith, Geoff Sebesta and Jason Belcher.

Henry won the Miss America pageant in 2000 is married to former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry. She was named commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014.

Griffith is a public school teacher and small business owner from Whitesburg, who filed to run for the office last November. Sebesta and Belcher both filed to run just before Tuesday’s deadline.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Republican Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles is running for a second term, facing only Bill Polyniak of Lexington in the Republican primary.

Democrats Robert Haley Conway of Georgetown and Joe Trigg of Glasgow filed to run for the office just minutes before the deadline on Tuesday, and will now face off in the primary.

Treasurer

Republican Treasurer Allison Ball is facing no primary challenge as she runs for re-election this year but will face one of two Democrats vying to replace her this fall.

The Democrats running in the primary to become the next state treasurer are Josh Mers of Lexington and Michael Bowman of Louisville.

Mers, a small business owner and the chair of Lexington Fairness, lost a Democratic primary for a state House seat last May. Bowman ran for Jefferson County Clerk last year, losing a relatively close race to longtime incumbent Bobbie Holsclaw.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]