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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Campbell County Elections: What to Watch For

By Tyler Owen 

November 6th is quickly approaching. It seems like just yesterday that I was anxiously awaiting the results for my race in this past May’s primaries. I was a candidate for county commissioner and, no two ways about it, got crushed in the final numbers. It was a good campaign and I have zero regrets.

For now, I wanted to take a moment now and share my hopes for a high turnout in the general.

The next presidential election will be in two years, along with the next U.S. Senate race. The governor will be running for reelection next year, along with the other statewide offices. This year the top of the ballot in Campbell County is headlined by a U.S. House of Representatives race that features two candidates not from the three most northern counties and seems to be solidly leaning towards the incumbent. History would dictate this is a year where many would not feel a need to get out and vote.

I feel the exact opposite is the case.

In Campbell County we have an array of elections that will have a huge impact on how we live our daily lives. It may not feel like it, but that’s the case. Let’s run through some of them, what they mean, and storylines to watch for.

We have three contested state house races in our county.

Democrat Dennis Keene, the incumbent, faces Republican Bob Schrage in the 67th. In the 68th Republican incumbent Joe Fischer squares off with Democratic challenger Jason Kilmer. Holding a small amount of territory in Campbell County, the 64th has the incumbent Republican Kimberly Poore Moser competing with Democrat Larry “Santa” Varney.

These three races represent a small portion of the state house competitions across the race that will determine if the Republicans will continue (until at least after the 2019 gubernatorial election) to hold all three branches of state government (the governor, the state senate, and the state house) or if the Democrats will reassume the majority in the house they lost in 2016.

The state senate race in Campbell County is the first regular election incumbent Wil Schroder (Republican) will take part in after winning the special election to fill the void 24th District seat after the retirement of Katie Stine. He takes on Democrat Rachel Roberts, a first time candidate and business owner from Newport who has become the rallying point for the local Democratic party.

A debate between the two candidates brought high attendance and showcased the current ire of educators and others enrolled in the state pension who witnessed a tumultuous 2017 legislative session which brought forth new action towards the underfunded pension system. This race appears to be much tighter than previously thought and may be the best chance the Democrats have to capture a legislative seat currently held by a Republican in Northern Kentucky.

A special election is also being held on the ballot to fill the vacated seat by Judge Fred Stine, who retired in 2017. Dan Zalla was appointed by Governor Matt Bevin to sit on the bench until the election could be held. He faces Fort Thomas attorney Derek Durbin, a former Campbell County prosecutor and current associate at a Kentucky law firm. This race is unique on the county-wide ballot as it is non-partisan.

In other county wide races:

- Michelle Snodgrass (D), incumbent Commonwealth Attorney, fresh off the life sentence of Shayna Hubers for murder in Campbell County Circuit Court, faces first time candidate Justin Fortner (R).

- Judge Executive Steve Pendery (R), 4 term incumbent, faces current county commissioner Charlie “Coach” Coleman (I) and former U.S. House candidate Calvin Sidle (D).

- Brian Painter (R), two term incumbent, is running for reelection for the County Commissioner, District 1 seat against Fort Thomas residents Connie Grubbs (D) and Dave Guidugli (I).

- U.S. Congressman Thomas Massie (R) is running for reelection against Seth Hall (D).

With contentious state legislative races and two 3-way countywide races, the scenario exists where one or more races are decided by a handful of votes.  It is of paramount importance for the health of our democratic system that turnout is high and that the true voice of the community is heard.

Tyler Owen is a Campbell County resident and former county commission candidate. The views and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views or opinions of Fort Thomas Matters.

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