Kentucky elections, 2023

Hey there, Kentucky voters! The 2023 primary election is right around the corner on May 16th. This important election will set the stage for the general election in November. There are some fascinating races and candidates to pay attention to, especially the wide open governor’s race.

Key Races and Candidates

The headlining race is the Republican primary for governor, featuring Attorney General Daniel Cameron, State Auditor Mike Harmon, and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. On the Democratic side, incumbent Andy Beshear is running for a second term.

Other key statewide races include lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state, treasurer, and agriculture commissioner. All 100 seats in the Kentucky House of Representatives are up for grabs as well.

Notable Voter Registration Changes

Kentucky recently enacted new photo ID requirements for voting, so be sure to have a valid driver’s license or other approved photo ID ready when you head to the polls.

Voters also now have the option to register as independents rather than associating with a party. This opens up primary voting to more Kentuckians.

Primary Election Date and Voting Methods

The primary election falls on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, with polls open from 6 AM to 6 PM local time. Kentucky offers widespread early and absentee voting options.

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You can vote early in-person, request an absentee mail-in ballot without an excuse, or hand deliver your mail ballot to your county clerk’s office before election day.

Governor’s Race Taking Center Stage

The headlining race in the Kentucky primary is the Republican nomination for governor to take on incumbent Andy Beshear. This race has changed shape dramatically in recent months and is sure to be competitive.

Republican Primary Shakeup

Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced his bid back in 2021 and was seen as an early frontrunner. But State Auditor Mike Harmon threw his hat into the ring too and has gained surprising momentum.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles joined the race late but brings strong name recognition. This three-way battle for the Republican nomination will be fascinating to watch.

Beshear Seeking Second Term

On the Democratic side, Governor Andy Beshear is running for a second term. He faces no major primary challengers after a term defined by pandemic response and recovery efforts.

Beshear maintains positive approval ratings around 50% and holds key endorsements. He’s made education funding and infrastructure key issues for his reelection campaign.

Major Issues at Play

There are clear dividing lines on major issues that will animate this race. These include education, jobs and economic policy, and social issues like abortion access.

Expect a hard fought contest centered on Kentucky’s direction and priorities for the next four years. This primary will help crystallize the debate.

Other Statewide Offices Up for Grabs

Beyond the compelling governor’s race, there are several other statewide offices on the ballot that present interesting primary contests.

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Lt. Governor Race

On the Democratic side, incumbent Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman is seeking reelection on the same ticket as Beshear. No major primary challenger has emerged.

For Republicans, Senator Ralph Alvarado, attorney Kelly Craft, and educator Alexandra Gordon are vying for the nomination. This race has been relatively low profile so far and will likely be shaped by the outcome of the gubernatorial primary.

Attorney General Contest

With Daniel Cameron term limited as AG and running for governor, both parties have competitive primaries to replace him.

Former Congressman Joe Palumbo and George Wright are battling in the Democratic primary. The Republican side features prosecutor Barry Dunn versus legal counsel Wil Schroder.

Open Seats for Treasurer and Agriculture Commissioner

Treasurer Allison Ball and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles are both seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Their open seats have attracted multiple candidates from each party.

The Democratic treasurer’s race includes businesswoman Catherine Booe and audiologist Michael Bowman. For Republicans, legislator Phillip Pratt and professor Ellen Williams are competing.

State Legislature Composition on the Line

Beyond statewide offices, the outcome of primary contests for Kentucky’s legislature could have major implications. All 100 House seats are up for election, while 19 of 38 Senate seats are on the ballot.

Battle for House Control

Republicans currently hold a commanding 75-25 supermajority in the Kentucky House. But Democrats are aiming to chip away at the GOP’s dominance this year.

Contested primaries in swing districts like the 36th and 91st will be vital to positioning each party for success in November. These races span suburban and exurban areas that could swing control of key seats.

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Session Majority at Stake in Senate

The GOP has controlled the Kentucky Senate since 2000, currently holding a 30-8 advantage. Most senators are not up for reelection this cycle.

Conclusion and Voter Information

The 2023 Kentucky primary election will set the stage for the fall general election and shape the state’s political direction. I hope this breakdown gave you some useful insight into the key races and candidates!

Get Ready to Vote on May 16

Don’t forget to register by April 17 if you want to vote in the primary. And with all the early and absentee voting options, make a plan that works for you. Just get those ballots in by May 16!

What’s at Stake

We have the opportunity to choose leaders that represent our values and priorities for Kentucky. I’ll be doing my research to make thoughtful choices. I hope you’ll join me in making our voices heard on election day!


What time do polls open and close on election day? Polls will be open 6 AM to 6 PM local time on May 16, 2023 for the Kentucky primary election.

Can 17-year-olds vote in the Kentucky primaries if they will turn 18 before the general election? No, you must be 18 years old on or before the date of the primary election to be eligible to vote. 17-year-olds can register and will be added to the voter rolls for the general election.

Do I have to declare a party affiliation to vote in the primaries? Kentucky has closed partisan primaries, meaning you must be a registered Republican to vote in the Republican primary and registered Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary.

If a race is uncontested, will it still be on the primary ballot? Yes, even if a candidate is running unopposed within their own party, their primary race will still appear on the ballot.

What forms of ID can I use to vote? Valid photo ID options include KY driver’s license, US Passport, KY state ID card, US military ID, and several other government-issued IDs. Make sure yours is up to date!

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