Dem Party Chair Rep. Sannie Overly can offer encourage to candidate Jesse Wright but not much else
There are multiple House races going on in the far western end of the state, but the challengers are getting little attention from media and party leadership in Central Kentucky.
Sadly, that's no surprise to natives living as far from the capital and still be in the Bluegrass State. When the Purchase went from being the Gibraltar of the West for the Democratic Party, party leadership boarded outgoing boats and sailed away. They sometimes swing through (think Fancy Farm) to urge the faithful to support their majority. Occasionally, they come to headline a local event. (See More below)
Otherwise, House challengers are on their own. They get the message loud and clear: Don't bother calling HQ. That number's been changed.
Hillary and Donald are awash in polls measuring everything from name recognition to questions on whether they smile enough or too much. There is no polling for local candidates. Local candidates must depend on word of mouth and their own fingers in the air to find out which way the wind is blowing. Anyone who has ever run for office knows the ugly truth that voters lie about who they are voting for. Candidates in every election get a shock when election results come in. Precincts they thought in the bag were not.
Republican incumbents face challengers in the three Purchase districts. In the First District, Steve Rudy, who joined the House in 2005, faces former McCracken County Attorney Mike Murphy. The district winds from Paducah to Hickman along the Mississippi River.
In the Second District, Graves County and a portion of McCracken, incumbent and former Democrat Richard Heath has a rematch in challenger Jesse Wright. Heath owns Heath Building Materials in Mayfield. Wright is an attorney.
In the 3rd House, an all McCracken district, Democrat incumbent Gerald Watkins is being challenged by Republican Joni Hogancamp. Watkins is a college professor. Hogancamp runs Caring People Services, Inc.
Republican Representative Lynn Bechler of Marion is unopposed in the 4th House District.
In the 5th District that covers Calloway and a portion of Trigg County, Rep. Kenny Imes, a funeral home director, is being challenged by Democrat David Ramey, an insurance man, shown at left.
Over in Marshall County, 6th District Rep. Will Coursey is facing two opponents. One, David P. Watson, is a Libertarian. The other, Paula Robinson is a Republican.
Other races in the west of interest are a rematch of 8th District Democratic Rep. Jeff Taylor who won a special election in March beating Walker Wood Thomas, the Republican challenger and a race in the 12th District between the incumbent, former Democrat Jim Gooch of Providence and challenger Jim Townsend of Dixon.
Incumbents generally get support from their House leadership. Both parties have political action committees (PACs), lion's shares of which go to incumbents. In the past, the Republican Party, more flush with cash have spent money to unseat Democratic incumbents. If past is prologue, mass mailings and push calls will come from GOP headquarters. The mass mailings tend to arrive close to election day giving Republican candidates the last word before voters go to the polls.
There are other GOP sources of dough. Tom Loftus of the Courier Journal posted on Twitter on September 20th that "McConnell's PAC-funded PAC (Bluegrass Committee) gave 42 contributions of $1,000 each to GOP candidates for state rep in August -FEC report."@TomLoftus_CJ
As for Democratic challengers in the west, they get encouragement but little money from Frankfort's Democrat Drive. Party Chair Sannie Overly may be willing to help challengers - but with funds low and West Kentucky tending redder, her good intentions don't produce commercials. The Democratic Party got money from the Hillary Clinton Victory Fund - then had to send it back when questions arose from the Federal Election Commission. Money is said to be promised this fall which starts on Thursday).
Challengers face an uphill fight - one with real consequences for House leadership. To hold on to the only Democratic majority in the South means some challengers have to win to offset the inevitable losses of incumbents.
For now, all the House leadership can offer Democratic challengers are thumbs up and public appearances.