Expensive battle brewing in Kentucky primary to shape GOP caucus in Frankfort Skip to content

Expensive battle brewing in Kentucky primary to shape GOP caucus in Frankfort

Well-funded political action committees are preparing to spend on competitive Republican primary races for the Kentucky General Assembly, with one side supporting candidates from the “liberty” wing of the GOP and the other supporting more establishment candidates.

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With less than four weeks to go until Kentucky’s primary election, political action committees and the interests that fund them are prepared to spend heavily on Republican races for the state legislature — re-opening divisions within the GOP caucus in Frankfort.

At least a half dozen races pit candidates from the “liberty” wing of the GOP against what are often considered more mainstream or “establishment” Republicans.

The liberty faction distinguishes itself from Kentucky’s GOP establishment by taking a harder line opposing government spending and regulations, to the point of challenging party leadership. These candidates include incumbents and challengers that are supported by multiple ideologically-aligned PACs, such as libertarian-leaning Make Liberty Win, Americans for Prosperity and “school choice” group Commonwealth Educational Opportunities.

The Republican candidates they are facing off against have the backing of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and PACs that are funded by major business interests, such as the horse racing industry, hospitals and realtors — as well as the Louisville teachers union.

Republicans are virtually certain to maintain their dominant supermajority of both Kentucky General Assembly chambers when they return to Frankfort for the 2025 session, but these primary races will play a part in determining what that GOP caucus looks like — and what legislative leadership they elect — as they steer state policy for the next two years.

These races are also shaping up to be a replay of sorts of the 2022 GOP primary that featured numerous challenges to Republican incumbents from candidates in the liberty wing.

While many of those challengers lost — in part due to heavy spending by PACs to counter them — the liberty candidates were able to knock off three GOP incumbents from northern Kentucky who had chaired influential House committees.

Now, the chamber and other aligned business interests funding PACs are out to even the score in the May primary, targeting several of the liberty candidates who are now incumbents, while also defending some GOP incumbents who are the latest targets for liberty challengers in the current cycle.

Another factor that could come into play involves the issue of abortion, as a key group decided to endorse the liberty challengers of established Republican incumbents, with several socially conservative PACs on the periphery.

Read the rest at Louisville Public Media.

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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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The Daily Wrap for Monday, 5/20

The Daily Wrap for Monday, 5/20

A very light news day, with most of the focus on the arrest of the golfer at the PGA last week. Of note, though, is Heather Cox Richardson’s summary of President Biden’s commencement speech at Morehouse.

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