Familiar faces and well-known names advance in Louisville judicial primary races

·4 min read

Despite receiving the lowest marks in a Louisville Bar Association lawyers poll of the three candidates for the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Annette Karem easily won the most votes in Tuesday's primary election.

Karem, who has served on the Jefferson District bench for 16 years, captured 51% of the vote and will face state Rep. Mackenzie Cantrell, who got 38%, in the fall.

Stan Whetzel finished a distant third.

2022 Kentucky primary election results: Get the latest updates here

The Court of Appeals contest was the highest on the primary ballot, which featured only contests with three or more candidates.

The top two finishers in judicial primaries advance to the general election.

Karem, the chief district judge, was criticized earlier this year for a proposal she later was forced to withdraw that would have allowed conferencing of criminal cases without a judge present. Critics said the plan — designed to reduce a backlog of cases — was illegal and unfair.

But Karem is well known. She is related by marriage to former state Sen. David Karem and former Judge Edmund "Pete" Karem.

In the only circuit court race in which an incumbent was challenged, In Circuit Court Division 5, Judge Mary Shaw fended off Tracy Evette Davis and Christine Miller. Shaw and Davis each won 35% of the vote to 30% for Miller.

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Shaw had been seen as vulnerable because she signed the search warrant for the police raid in which Breonna Taylor was killed in March 2020. But she was rated qualified or highly qualified by 92% of the attorneys who rated her in the LBA poll — far higher than either of her challengers.

In the 7th Division, criminal defense attorney Theodore “Ted” Shouse won 41% of the vote, while Melissa Logan Bellows, who most lawyers in the Louisville Bar Association poll said they didn’t know, finished second with 34% and will face Shouse in the fall.

Ted Shouse
Ted Shouse

Critt Cunningham, deputy chief of the violent crime unit in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, finished out of the running.

None of the three candidates was endorsed by Citizens for Better Judges. Shouse said he was "humbled" by the support of so many voters and looks forward to connecting with more.

In the most crowded race, the two biggest vote-getters were Sarah Clay, a former public defender who captured 38% of the vote, and Nichole T. Compton, who has a law degree and an MBA and is a former president of the Louisville Black Lawyers Association. She got 22%, edging out F. Todd Lewis.

The other candidates were Tim Buckley, Blaine Grant and Alan L. Lani.

Kentucky primary election: 5 takeaways from the 2022 primary election. (Hint: The first one is 'money wins')

In a three-person circuit contest in the 10th Division, the two candidates who will move on to the general election were Patricia "Tish" Morris, who won 44% of the vote, and Dorislee Gilbert, who got 29%.

Morris, who has practiced 20 years, used the same campaign colors as her father, Geoffrey Morris, the late circuit judge and prosecutor. Gilbert is a former assistant commonwealth's attorney and victim advocate.

Zachary “Zach” McKee finished third.

In District Court races, the two highest vote-getters in Division 4 were Yvette De La Guardia, a former public defender, who got 38%, and former assistant commonwealth’s attorney Lora Chisholm Holman, who got 32%. Jennifer Yancey was third.

Yvette De La Guardia
Yvette De La Guardia

In Division 7, Megan McDonald, daughter of retired judges Tom and Dee McDonald, finished first with 44% of the vote, ahead of Shannon Fauver, who had 31%. Jacob Elder finished third.

McDonald attributed her victory to "all of the hardworking people who tirelessly supported me" and to union members who voted for her. She also said: "I am proud of my name. My parents were my role models."

In Division 8, former public defender Karen Faulkner, who go 47% of the vote and easily outdistanced Jessica Stone, an assistant county attorney who has practiced family law and got 31%. Faulkner ran for county attorney in the Democratic primary in 2014.

Karen Faulkner
Karen Faulkner

Lindsay Volk Beets, an assistant county attorney, finished out of the running, despite buying a front a front-page ad on election day in The Courier Journal.

In the 15th Division, Mary Jude Wolford, who was endorsed by Citizens for Better Judges, got about 50% of the vote to 29% for Claudette Patton. Samuel G. Hayword Jr. finished out of the running.

Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189; awolfson@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @adwolfson.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Winning judges in KY primary feature familiar faces, well-known names