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Primary Victories By Beshear Appointees Set Stage For November Judicial Elections

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Two judges appointed earlier this year by Governor Andy Beshear will advance to the general election as the top vote-getters in their respective primary races.

Judicial elections in Kentucky are nonpartisan, with the top two candidates in primary voting moving on to the general election. The two judicial races in west Kentucky come as a result of vacancies created in 2019. 

The race for The Kentucky Court of Appeals Division One seat began after former Judge Shea Nickell won election to the Kentucky Supreme Court. Governor Andy Beshear appointed Chris McNeill, the directing attorney of Paducah’s public defender office, to serve out the remainder of Nickell’s term. McNeill was challenged in the primary by Air Force Veteran Jenny Hines, Circuit Court Judge Rene Williams and Paducah Attorney Jason Coltharp. 

Uncertified results from the Kentucky Board of Elections show McNeill as the top vote-getter in the primary with nearly 33,000 votes. Hines ran a distant second with more than 24,000 votes, with Williams’ 14,000 votes eliminating her from the race. Citing a narrow path to victory, Coltharp withdrew his candidacy before ballots were counted. 

Another special election in November will choose the next family court judge for the 42nd judicial circuit, which encompasses Marshall and Calloway Counties. Former Judge Rob Mattingly retiredlast November, setting the stage for the 2020 campaign. Beshear appointed Murray Family Attorney Stephanie Perlow to fill the vacancy. Legal Aid Attorney Catherine Fuller and Benton Private Practice Attorney Ryan Yates also filed to run and initially sought Beshear’s appointment. Fuller terminated her candidacy earlier this month. 

Results obtained from the Marshall and Calloway County Clerk’s offices show Perlow with just under 10,000 votes, compared to Yates with more than 2,700. Both candidates will appear on the November ballot.

Unofficial results from all Kentucky primary election races may be found here.

Dalton York is a Morning Edition host and reporter for WKYU in Bowling Green. He is a graduate of Murray State University, where he majored in History with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership Studies. While attending Murray State, he worked as a student reporter at WKMS. A native of Marshall County, he is a proud product of his tight-knit community.
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