Still just over a month away from the first votes being cast in the regular 2014 primary election cycle, two more states are finalizing their candidate filings. West Virginia now has an official slate of candidates for the coming election, and Kentucky will close tomorrow.
While it has been common conjecture that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) are the unofficial nominees for their respective parties, both do face several nominal primary opponents and will have three Independents joining them on the general election ballot.
Rep. Capito has six Republican opponents for the open Senate nomination, including a former state Delegate and an-ex local police chief. None appears to be a serious candidate, however. Secretary Tennant drew four Democratic challengers, also including one former state Delegate. She, too, will romp to victory on primary day, May 13.
In the 1st Congressional District, sophomore Rep. David McKinley (R) is clear for the nomination and has one opponent for the general election, State Auditor Glen Gainer (D). Gainer, 53, was originally elected state auditor in 1992. Therefore, he has won six statewide elections, which makes him a formidable congressional candidate. The unofficial Democratic nominee does not have to relinquish his position to run for Congress, since he is in the middle of his current term.
Capito’s open 2nd District has attracted a total of 12 candidates: seven Republicans, four Democrats, and one Independent. On the Republican side, former US International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane and former Maryland state Senator and GOP state chairman Alex Mooney look to be the strongest candidates. For the Democrats, ex-state party chairman Nick Casey appears to be the favorite for the nomination. The only elected official in the field of Democratic candidates is state Delegate Meshea Poore. The general election will be competitive.
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV-3), who has filed to run for a 20th term in office, will face credible opposition in the general election from Democrat-turned-Republican state Sen. Evan Jenkins. In the Democratic primary, Iraq and Afghan War veteran Richard Ojeda, who was honored as Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D) special guest at the last State of the Union Address, has filed against the veteran incumbent. It remains to be seen if he will be a threat for the nomination, but the general election will be a serious campaign in a district that gave Pres. Obama only 33 percent of its votes in 2012.
Though Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) are the heavy favorites for their respective nominations, both face a bevy of primary opponents. In addition to investment executive Matt Bevin in the Republican field, three minor Republican candidates are also on the ballot. On the Democratic side, Grimes has four opponents. The Kentucky primary is May 20. The general election Senate campaign promises to be one of the most important in the nation.
In the House races, all six incumbents look to be in the driver’s seat for re-election, including freshman Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY-6).
Eleven-term Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY-1) has no primary opposition and will face auctioneer Charles Hatchett (D) in the general election.
Three-term incumbent Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2) also faces no Republican opposition and will match up with retired Army officer Ron Leach (D), who is now a physician assistant.
In the Louisville district, four-term veteran Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY-3) drew no Democratic primary opposition, and will square-off with Dr. Michael Macfarlane (R) a local urologist, and Independent Mark Gatton.
Unless someone who has not yet indicated that he or she is running for Congress files tomorrow, freshman Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY-4) will be granted a second term without primary or general election opposition.
Appropriations Committee chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY-5), has no primary opposition. Democrats Ken Stepp, an attorney, and Viet Nam War veteran Billy Ray Wilson battle each other for the right to lose to Rogers in November. The congressman will seek his 18th term in the House.
In the Lexington district, former Rep. Ben Chandler (D), who lost to freshman Rep. Barr in 2012, is not seeking a re-match. Of the three announced Democrats, non-profit executive and former Walt Disney Company executive Elisabeth Jensen appears to be the strongest candidate and should be credible in the general election. Attorney Michael Coblenz and retired state employee Geoffrey Young round out the Democratic primary field.