KY House primary results: Two GOP incumbents ousted by Liberty candidates

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A powerful Western Kentucky Republican state representative has been ousted from his seat by a "Liberty" wing Republican candidate.

Incumbent Richard Heath, R-Mayfield, who chairs the House’s agriculture committee and has held his seat since 2012, was behind by just 161 votes to Kimberly Holloway when the votes were tallied. The Associated Press delayed in calling the race because it was so close.

Holloway had the backing of both the Kentucky Liberty Caucus and Raise Your Voice KY, two “pro-liberty” groups. Her campaign materials criticized Heath for being a supporter of Mitch McConnell and for not being conservative enough.

Kentucky Representative Richard Heath at Fancy Farm.Aug 6, 2022
Kentucky Representative Richard Heath at Fancy Farm.Aug 6, 2022

"While I am disappointed by yesterday's results, primaries provide a whole new set of challenges," Heath said in a statement. He said he was proud of his track record of "lowering the income tax, protecting children and the unborn (and) preserving our constitutional rights."

Heath raised close to $30,000 and spent over $20,000 by May 8. Holloway raised nearly $19,000 and spent around $15,000 by May 8, the most recent campaign finance filing deadline.

There was no candidate on the Democratic side of the ticket. Barring unusual circumstances, Holloway will represent District 2 in Frankfort next year.

District 45 - Republican

Part of Fayette County and part of Jessamine County

In a major upset, a moderate Republican incumbent suffered a resounding defeat by a "Liberty" wing Republican in Fayette and Jessamine counties.

Rep. Killian Timoney, who represented the 45th District since 2021, lost out to the aptly named Thomas Jefferson, a businessman who picked up support from the Jessamine County Republican Party, the Kentucky Liberty Caucus and Raise Your Voice Kentucky.

Jefferson's campaign website says he is strongly pro-life and pro-Second Amendment and in favor of school choice.

"They were successful in creating an identity for me ... that I wasn't a conservative," Timoney told The Courier Journal. He said Jefferson worked hard, and said he is now "second guessing" how he communicated with voters during his campaign.

Timoney works for the Fayette County Public Schools, according to a document filed with the state's Legislative Ethics Commission. Timoney drew criticism for voting with Democrats in the past. For example, last year Timoney was one of just four Republicans to vote not to override a veto of an anti-trans bill.

Jefferson had spent a total of around $7,000 by early May, the most recent campaign finance filing deadline. Timoney's campaign finance records had not been updated since December 2023.

Jefferson picked up 72.1% of the vote while Timoney pulled just 27.9%. Jefferson will face sole Democratic candidate Adam Moore in November.

District 65 - Republican

Northern Kentucky (part of Kenton County)

Rep. Kim Moser fended off a challenge from Karen Campbell in a Northern Kentucky Republican primary.
Rep. Kim Moser fended off a challenge from Karen Campbell in a Northern Kentucky Republican primary.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser narrowly fended off a challenge from Liberty Caucus candidate Karen Campbell. Moser defeated Campbell by just 84 votes, another sign of the growing influence of the caucus among northern Kentucky Republicans.

Moser has served in the state House since 2017. The chair of the health services committee, Moser this year spearheaded a successful effort to get a maternal health reform bill, the “Momnibus,” passed with bipartisan support.

Campbell's campaign website said she would be “a voice against overreach of government mandates.”

Both candidates say they are opposed to abortion rights and want to defend the Second Amendment.

Moser will face Democrat Heather Crabbe in November.

District 41 - Democratic

East-central Louisville

Voters chose a longtime state legislator over a more youthful Democratic activist in a deep blue Louisville district.

The Associated Press called the District 41 race for longtime former state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian around 8:30 on Tuesday night. Marzian picked up about 70% of the votes, while attorney Rick Adams won just 30%.

The strongly Democratic east-central Louisville district opened up this year when Rep. Josie Raymond announced she would leave the state legislature to mount a run for Louisville metro council.

Former state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian is likely heading back to her Frankfort after she defeated her Democratic primary opponent, Rick Adams, on Tuesday night.
Former state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian is likely heading back to her Frankfort after she defeated her Democratic primary opponent, Rick Adams, on Tuesday night.

That opening led Marzian and Adams to throw their hats into the ring. Adams has represented the Democratic Party in court and done legal work for The Courier Journal.

Adams spent big, around $49,000, while Marzian had spent under $15,000 by May 8, the most recent campaign filing deadline.

Marzian emphasized her experience in Frankfort and her ability to work across the aisle to get bills passed during an April campaign forum. Adams said he would bring a fresh, youthful perspective to the Democratic caucus. He also criticized Marzian’s attendance and her record of proposing what Adams called “stunt legislation” to make a point during her prior tenure in the legislature.

The two candidates differed over nuclear energy as well, with Marzian expressing doubts about its safety and Adams calling for the state to consider nuclear energy.

"We didn't get the result we wanted but I'm incredibly proud of this campaign," Adams said in statement about his defeat. "Primary season is over, it's time for Democrats across Kentucky to come together."

Marzian could not immediately be reached for comment.

Marzian will face Republican Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell in November.

District 40 - Democratic

Part of Jefferson County

Incumbent Democrat Nima Kulkarni faced a rocky road to election day after former state Rep. Dennis Horlander, whom Kulkarni defeated in the 2018 election, challenged the propriety of her campaign paperwork.

Horlander alleged one of the two people who signed Kulkarni's campaign filing documents was not a Democrat at the time of signing, and state law requires two party members to sign a candidate's declaration of intent to run for office.

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Kulkarni's candidacy could proceed, reversing a ruling from a state Court of Appeals decision last week. However, the Supreme Court will hear arguments next month about whether Kulkarni should be eligible for office.

Her challenger, William Zeitz, is from south Louisville and works as a truck driver. Zeitz is not involved in the lawsuit against Kulkarni.

Despite the challenges, Kulkarni appears poised to easily carry the race. As of 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, Kulkarni had 78% of the vote while Zeitz had just 22%, according to the Associated Press.

District 66 - Republican

Northern Kentucky (part of Boone County)

A Republican in the state GOP's "Liberty" wing defeated a former state representative in a hotly contested Northern Kentucky race, one of the first notable House results from Tuesday's primaries.

Controversial candidate T.J. Roberts beat the more traditional Republican C. Ed Massey in early returns. Roberts earned about 74.3% of the vote with Massey garnering just 25.7%, according to the Associated Press, which called the race before 8 p.m.

Roberts picked up the endorsement of the Boone County Republican Party but has also been accused of antisemitic comments. Roberts apologized after publishing an offensive post about guns after the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Massey, meanwhile, caused controversy when he said without evidence that Roberts was rumored to be on Grindr, a social networking app for the LGBTQ community, during a campaign forum last month. Roberts then called for Massey to drop out of the race.

Ed Massey and T.J. Roberts are running for state House in District 66.
Ed Massey and T.J. Roberts are running for state House in District 66.

Roberts told The Courier Journal his campaign's success was driven by his strong voter outreach efforts. While personal issues did come up during the campaign, Roberts said he focused on the issues and "didn't engage in the politics of personal destruction."

"This is an obviously unfortunate result (with) still low voter turnout. (Massey) hopes one day Northern Kentucky will unite as a Republican Party, and he hopes that the district realizes who they actually elected," said Carter Davidson, Massey's campaign manager.

Roberts, who at 26 would be the first Gen Z Republican in Kentucky's General Assembly, will face sole Democratic candidate Peggy Houston-Nienaber in November.

The seat had been held by Republican Rep. Steve Rawlings, who decided to leave it to run for state Senate. Rawlings also won his primary Tuesday and, barring unusual circumstances, will take a Senate seat in Frankfort next year because there is no Democratic candidate in the race.

District 60 - Republican

Northern Kentucky (part of Boone County)

Another Liberty candidate, incumbent Rep. Marianne Proctor, fended off a challenge from Christopher Pavese, a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce-backed candidate aligned with more traditional Northern Kentucky Republicans.

Pavese had outspent Proctor by around $14,000 as of May 8, the most recent campaign finance reporting deadline.

But Proctor earned over 76.5% of the vote with Pavese pulling just 23.5% as of Tuesday night, according to the Associated Press.

Proctor will face Democrat Deborah Ison Flowers in November.

District 62 - Republican

Georgetown (part of Scott County)

Scott County Sheriff Tony Hampton beat Bill Parker in the Republican primary for a seat currently held by Rep. Phillip Pratt, who is not running for re-election.

Hampton drew 70.1% of the vote while Parker drew 29.9% as of Tuesday evening, according to the Associated Press.

Hampton will face Democratic candidate Kevin Kidwell in November.

District 24 - Republican

Green, Hart and LaRue Counties 

This seat is currently held by Republican Courtney Gilbert, who ran in a special election to replace Brandon Reed after he left to serve as executive director of Kentucky Office of Agricultural Policy. Gilbert just took office in March but decided not to run again.

That left the field open for Ryan Bivens and Asa Waggoner to square off in the GOP primary. Bivens appeared to have defeated Waggoner by about 50 percentage points as of Tuesday evening, according to the Associated Press.

Bivens’ campaign website describes him as a “rock-solid conservative” who wants to eliminate the state income tax and is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. Bivens owns Fresh Start Farms and describes himself as a “first-generation farmer.”

Waggoner’s website also touts his conservative values, including that he is pro-Trump. Waggoner has the support of the Kentucky Liberty Caucus and Raise Your Voice Kentucky. He works for Houchens Food Group, Jobe Publishing, and Caveland Kayak and Canoe, according to a disclosure form filed with the Legislative Ethics Commission.

Bivens will likely face sole Democratic candidate Johnny Pennington in November.

District 29 - Republican

Southeastern Louisville (part of Jefferson)

Republican Rep. Kevin Bratcher’s departure from the Statehouse to run for a seat on Louisville's Metro Council opened the door for packed primaries on both sides of the ticket.

The GOP race included real estate agent Wyatt Allison, longtime Louisville Republican Party official Chris Lewis (who’s raised more than $45,000 and is backed by most local party leaders) and teacher Debbie Peden.

On the GOP side, Lewis won, pulling 68% of the vote to Peden’s 27.1% and Allison’s 5%, according to the Associated Press around 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

District 29-Democratic

Southeastern Louisville (part of Jefferson)

The Democratic race includes former mayoral candidate Timothy Findley Jr., engineer Matthew Pfaadt (who ran in 2022 but was removed from the ballot since he was not a registered Democrat at the time of filing) and Ricky Santiago, a Louisville Metro employee.

According to poll results updated by the Associated Press on Thursday, Findley takes the lead with 41.9% of the vote, and Pfaadt trailed behind with 40% and Santiago with 18.1%. Findley will face Louisville Republican Party official Chris Lewis.

District 30 - Democratic

Part of Jefferson County 

Incumbent Democrat Rep. Daniel Grossberg, who has served since 2023, eked out a narrow victory over challenger Mitra Subedi, a Bilingual Associate Instructor at Fern Creek High School.

Grossberg, who was elected in 2022, won the race by just 50 votes, pulling in 50.8% of the vote to Subedi's 49.2%.

Grossberg, a Realtor, picked up an endorsement from Gov. Andy Beshear.

There is no Republican candidate in the race, so barring any unusual circumstances Grossberg will return to Frankfort next year.

District 42 - Democratic

Jefferson County (part) 

Current State Rep. Keturah Herron, D-Louisville, has left the state House to run for state Senate, a seat she’s almost certainly to pick up as the sole candidate on either side of the ticket.

The primary for her now-open seat drew three Democrat candidates: Jonathan MusselwhiteJack Walker and Joshua Watkins.

Watkins picked up 53% of the vote to Musselwhite's 24% and Walker's 23%. Watkins will run unopposed in the November general election.

Watkins is the director of strategic initiatives for Louisville Metro Government as well as a Realtor, according to documents filed with the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission. Watkins advocated for improving  Jefferson County Public Schools, improving access to community programs for veterans and supporting local businesses.

Musselwhite is a “union steward and renter” in District 42, according to his campaign website. He has called for raising the minimum wage, expanding health care access and preventing gun violence.

Walker is the director of operations for Burger Boy and Burger Girl diners and has previously served on the Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee. He ran on increasing funding for public education, freezing the gas tax and addressing gun violence.

Some races too close to call

Although the Associated Press has not called the following races, here's how they stood as of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday with nearly all votes counted:

District 36 - Democratic

At 50.1% of the vote, William "Woody" Zorn has a 5-vote lead over Colin Daugherty McDowell, who has 49.9% of the vote.

Politics reporter Hannah Pinski contributed to this story. Reach Rebecca Grapevine at or follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @RebGrapevine. Reach Lucas Aulbach at

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky primary election 2024: Updating results from House races