Off-Year Election Update

Kentucky held state-level primary elections yesterday, and there were also contests in scattered municipalities. I’ll quote Daily Kos Elections‘ Jeff Singer on the race discussed most often in national media, the KY GOP gubernatorial primary:

We were expecting a tight GOP primary, but not this tight! With all precincts reporting, tea partying businessman Matt Bevin leads state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer by just 83 votes, a 0.04 percent margin. Former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner was about 6 points behind with 27.1 percent of the vote, while former state Supreme Court Justice Will Scott brought up the rear with just 7.2 percent. Comer says he’ll ask to have the results recanvassed, which won’t take place until May 28…..

Tuesday’s vote brings an end to an incredibly nasty primary. A few weeks ago, Comer’s college girlfriend came forward and accused him of abusing her two decades ago and taking her to get an abortion, and her former roommates confirmed parts of her story. Comer denied everything and in turn accused Heiner of paying her to lie. Comer also claimed that a blogger connected to Heiner threatened his running mate’s children, a charge local prosecutors are investigating. Bevin managed to stay out of the slugfest, though Heiner ran a last-minute spot that sought to drag him into the muck with Comer.

A contested result between a scandal-ridden former front-runner and a right-wing ideologue who underperformed badly in his first statewide race (his challenge to Mitch McConnell last year) is not what KY Republicans wanted going into a tough general election against Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway.

Elsewhere, in the sprawling consolidated urban-suburban city of Jacksonville, Florida, the incumbent Democratic (and first African-American) Mayor, Alvin Brown, narrowly lost to Republican Lenny Curry, a former state GOP chair, in what was pretty much a straight out test of each party’s powers of mobilization.

Meanwhile, an interesting primary for Mayor of Philadelphia dominated by education policy battles concluded with a white former city councilman backed by unions defeating an African-American charter school champion pretty decisively. Jim Kenney will be heavily favored in the general election.

And speaking of education policy fights (see Alex Russo’s preview at The Grade yesterday), Los Angeles held school board elections in the midst of an intense and expensive battle between charter supporters and teachers unions. With very low turnout, both sides scored wins in beating incumbents.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.