Reed Elliotte looks at the results as Republicans gathered on election night in Louisville, Nov. 7, 2023. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Matthew Mueller)
Republicans made it a clean sweep Tuesday – as they did in 2019 — by winning all five of Kentucky’s so-called “down ticket” races.
The winning Republicans were Russell Coleman, attorney general; incumbent Michael Adams, secretary of state; Allison Ball, auditor of public accounts; Mark Metcalf, treasurer, and Jonathan Shell, agriculture commissioner.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said on the Kentucky Educational Television network that the GOP sweep of the five races shows that “Kentucky is still a red state.”
They are called “down-ticket” races because they are constitutional offices with less authority than the governor’s office. Each winner will serve for four years at an annual salary of $148,108.56.
Here’s a closer look at the five races.
Coleman, a former FBI agent who served as a federal prosecutor and was an attorney for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, turned back a challenge from Democratic state Rep. Pam Stevenson, a retired Air Force colonel and military lawyer. Stevenson is from Louisville, Coleman from Crestwood.
The office of the state’s top law-enforcement official has been held since 2019 by Republican Daniel Cameron, who decided to challenge Democrat Andy Beshear in the governor’s race.
Coleman, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump to be U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, told his supporters Tuesday night that he “will protect the family, will defend your rights and we will back the blue.”
He gave a special nod to the Fraternal Order of Police for its endorsement and to Stevenson for her service to the state and nation.
Secretary of state
Adams of Louisville, who ran as a moderate, defeated former Democratic state Rep. Charles “Buddy” Wheatley of Covington, an attorney and former fire chief of the Northern Kentucky city.
Throughout most of the campaign, Adams touted his record in bringing to the state photo ID to vote and working with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to make it easier to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But during his victory speech Tuesday night, Adams broadened his outlook, saying that, by working, Kentuck could improve in other areas like public safety, quality of life and its long-term future.
He said he will continue to make it “easier to vote and harder to cheat.”
Auditor of public accounts
Ball, who has been state treasurer for eight years, will move her office to that of auditor.
She turned back a bid by Kim Reeder, a tax attorney from Morehead, who was making her first race for public office.
Ball, a Prestonsburg attorney, said she will be a “watchdog” over how the state spends its money.
Metcalf is leaving 22 years as Garrard County attorney to become the state’s next treasurer. Ball could not seek re-election because of term limits. She ran successfully Tuesday for auditor.
Metcalf won the treasurer’s race over Democrat Michael Bowman, who also ran unsuccessfully for the office four years ago against Ball. Bowman, of Louisville, is a former bank official and staffer for Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman.
As treasurer, an office which some have sought to abolish, Metcalf said he wants to provide Kentuckians more information about its debt.
Commissioner of agriculture
Shell, a former state House floor leader and a Garrard County farmer, ran a strongly conservative race in beating Democrat Sierra Enlow, a LaRue County native who is an economic development consultant in Louisville.
Shell has been a supporter of U.S. Sen. McConnell and was instrumental in helping the Republican Party recruit state House candidates in the GOP’s 2016 takeover of the chamber.
He replaces Ryan Quarles, who ran unsuccessfully last spring in the Republican Party’s primary election for governor and has been named to head the Kentucky Community and Technical College Systems.
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