Candidates Chase History in Kentucky and Pennsylvania Primaries

  • Kentucky Republicans choosing nominee to oppose Gov. Beshear
  • Supreme Court, Philadelphia mayoral primaries in Pennsylvania

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Voters in two states have a chance on Tuesday to give candidates the go-ahead to try for political firsts.

In Kentucky, one of the 12 Republicans vying for the chance to take on incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear (D) is trying to make history.

If state attorney general Daniel Cameron wins, he’ll compete in November to become the nation’s first elected Black Republican governor.

All the other governors who were elected (as opposed to being elevated from lieutenant governor) were Democrats: Douglas Wilder in Virginia, Deval Patrick in Massachusetts, and Wes Moore in Maryland.

Source: AdImpact
Images from the Republican primary election advertising of gubernatorial candidates Kelly Craft, left, and Daniel Cameron.

Cameron has the endorsement of ex-President Donald Trump. One of the other candidates, Kelly Craft, served in the Trump administration as ambassador to Canada and to the United Nations.

Read More: GOP Ad Wars in Kentucky Test Party Messaging Ahead of 2024

Kentucky Secretary of State: Republican incumbent Michael Adams, who worked with Beshear to expand absentee balloting, faces two primary opponents who attacked him for Kentucky’s participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a bipartisan multi-state private consortium designed to help states maintain accurate voter registration lists and curb fraud.

Some Republican-led states have quit the organization.

Stephen Knipper, who lost to Adams in the 2019 primary, has suppoprt from My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, an outspoken proponent of Trump’s false election fraud claims. Adams’s other challenger is Allen Maricle, a former state representative. Adams rejected false conspiracy claims that Kentucky voting machines are connected to the internet and subject to vote-rigging.

Democrat Buddy Wheatley, a former state representative, is unopposed in his party’s primary.

Abortion and More

In Pennsylvania, special elections will fill two state House vacancies and determine whether Democrats keep control of that chamber.

One of the districts is heavily Republican. In the other election, Democrat Heather Boyd faces Republican Katie Ford in a Democratic-friendly district in Delaware County near Philadelphia. President Joe Biden endorsed Boyd and Gov. Josh Shapiro appeared in a TV ad for her.

A change in the balance of power would have a major impact on Shapiro’s fledgling governorship and potentially on reproductive rights as well. Republicans almost have enough votes to get a referendum on the ballot asking voters to change the state Constitution to say there is no guarantee of the right to an abortion.

Photos from campaign websites
Candidates for Pennsylvania’s open Supreme Court seat include, from left, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Carluccio (R), Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough (R); Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Daniel McCaffery (D), and Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Deborah Kunselman (D). McCaffery and Carluccio have their parties’ endorsements.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Democratic and Republican primaries will determine the November nominees for a vacancy on Pennsylvania’s highest court.

The Republican primary is between Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Carluccio, who has the endorsement of the state Republican party, and Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, who briefly stalled Pennsylvania’s certification of Biden’s narrow victory in the 2020 presidential election.

The Democratic primary pits two Pennsylvania Superior Court judges, Daniel McCaffery and Deborah Kunselman. The state party endorsed McCaffery.

Democrats control four of six seats on the Supreme Court following the death of Chief Justice Max Baer (D) last September.

Read More: Under-the-Radar Pennsylvania Supreme Court Race Going to Voters

Philadelphia mayor: The Democratic primary is the race to watch in overwhelmingly Democratic Philadelphia. Three women are top contenders to lead the nation’s sixth-most-populous city, which has never had a female mayor.

Helen Gym, the first Asian-American woman to serve on the Philadelphia city council, has backing from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Other leading candidates include former city controller Rebecca Rhynhart, whose supporters include former mayors Michael Nutter and John Street, and former city councilmember Cherelle Parker, whose backers include Rep. Dwight Evans of Philadelphia.

Former city councilmember Allan Domb and Jeff Brown, a former supermarket chain CEO, also are among the Democratic contenders. Mayor Jim Kenney (D) is term-limited.

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— With assistance from Maura Kelly Lannan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at; George Cahlink at

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