The highest-ranking Democrat in the state Senate turned back a challenge Tuesday in an acrimonious, expensive race as all incumbents in the chamber won their contested primaries.
Sen. Ray Jones, a Pikeville attorney who is the Senate minority leader, defeated Glenn Martin Hammond, also a Pikeville attorney, by more than 40 percentage points for the 31st District nomination.
Jones and Hammond each had tried to link the other to President Barack Obama, whose environmental policies many in the district blame for a sharp decline in the coal industry that has riddled the economy with job losses.
Jones, who has held the seat since 2000, reported outspending Hammond by a margin of $404,000 to $80,125 as of early May.
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No Republican filed for the general election. The district is made up of Pike, Martin, Lawrence, Elliott and Morgan counties.
In the 15th District of Pulaski, Lincoln and Boyle counties, Rick Girdler of Somerset won the Republican nomination.
Girlder, 60, had touted his nearly four decades of experience in the insurance business and his social and fiscal conservatism, and pledged to work full-time at the job.
The other candidates, all from Somerset, were Don Moss, an insurance agent and attorney; optometrist Joshua Nichols; and Michael Keck, a business consultant.
The seat was open because Republican Sen. Chris Girdler, Rick Girdler’s nephew, did not seek a second term. No Democrat filed for the general election.
In the 21st Senate District, incumbent Albert Robinson turned back London businessman Michael Bryant.
Robinson, a staunch social conservative with higher name recognition from nearly 30 years in the state House and Senate, topped Bryant by about 10 percentage points, according to unofficial returns.
The district is made up of Laurel, Jackson, Estill, Powell, Menifee and Bath counties.
Robinson will face Janice Odom of Clay City in the fall. Odom, 48, a business consultant and operator of a publishing company, was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
In the 11th District in Northern Kentucky, incumbent Republican Sen. John Schickel defeated challenger Josh L. Turner by a wide margin. No Democrat filed for the fall race.
In District 33 in Louisville, Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal cleared a challenge from two foes who argued he had gotten out of touch after more than 25 years in office.
Shenita Rickman, who runs a non-profit agency, won the Republican nomination and will face Neal in the fall.
Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester said Republicans recruited Rickman to run and see the race as perhaps the best chance to add a GOP seat.
In the 5th District in Western Kentucky, Leslie Stith of Meade County bested Hart County Magistrate Ricky Alvey for the Democratic nomination.
Republican Stephen Meredith, a retired hospital administrator whose son works for Gov. Matt Bevin, was unopposed for the GOP nomination.
Several incumbents did not have primary opponents but face races in November.
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, will face former Democratic Rep. Charlie Hoffman, a Scott County magistrate, in the 17th District, made up of Scott and Grant counties and part of Kenton.
Incumbent Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat, will face Republican Larry West in the 19th District, which covers part of Louisville.
And in the eight-county 27th District, Sen. Stephen West, a Republican from Paris, will face Democrat Charles L. Linville III.
Stivers said he doubts the GOP will lose its margin of 27 seats to 11 this fall, noting that Democrats will need to focus attention and resources on trying to hold a narrow margin in the House.
“I feel very confident about our opportunities to maintain our numbers,” Stivers said Tuesday.
These senators had no primary opponents and face no opposition in November: Stivers; Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz; Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville; Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort; David Givens, R-Greensburg; Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington; Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia; Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg; and Denise Harper Angel and Perry B. Clark, both Louisville Democrats.