Kentucky governor GOP primary, other race results from Tuesday

Republicans chose a challenger to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

May 17, 2023, 12:00 AM

It may be springtime in 2023, but it was election night in America on Tuesday.

Kentucky Republicans Tuesday picked their nominee to try to knock off Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in the state's gubernatorial race in November, easily the marquee race of the year.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia hosted a pair of consequential races, nominating a Democratic candidate for Philadelphia mayor -- who will ultimately be the overwhelming favorite to win a general election in the sapphire blue city -- and choosing who to fill a vacant state House seat, which could decide which party controls the chamber.

And in Jacksonville, Florida, a mayoral runoff emerged as a test of just how strong Republicans -- and GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis -- are in Florida.

Here are the race recaps from Tuesday night:

Kentucky Republican gubernatorial primary

The top billing of the night went to Kentucky, where state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles vied for the chance to take on Beshear, who has remained popular despite his state's red hue.

Cameron is projected by The Associated Press to handily win in a race that was called surprisingly early. Cameron won nearly 48% of the vote, followed by Quarles with 23% and Craft with 17%.

The three are largely aligned on policies, but slight distinctions have helped define the race.

In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during a press conference in Frankfort, Kentucky. | In this Sept. 12, 2019, file photo, the new U.S. Ambassador to the UN speaks to reporters in New York.
Jon Cherry/Getty Images | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Cameron started off the primary as the front-runner, boasting broad name recognition and deep ties to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell's powerful network. He also entered the race with former President Donald Trump's endorsement.

Craft highlighted her support for Trump and her service in his administration as ambassador in New York while dumping millions of her own money to buoy her campaign. Observers in the state believed that Cameron remained the frontrunner heading into Tuesday but that Craft's millions spent on television advertising hammering Cameron helped make the primary a real race.

Craft also won DeSantis' endorsement Monday, offering an eleventh-hour shot in the arm and shaping up the race to be a minor proxy war between Trump and DeSantis, who are soon anticipated to clash in the Republican presidential primary.

Quarles, meanwhile, focused much of his campaign less on personality and more on having fleshed out policy platforms, releasing policy positions each week.

The primary was anticipated to be a low turnout affair, with the secretary of state predicting turnout to hover around 10%, inserting an added level of uncertainty into the race.

Cameron will face a challenge in unseating Beshear, who has garnered praise for his handling of natural disasters that hit Kentucky during his first term as governor.

Philadelphia Democratic mayoral primary

The Democratic primary to replace term-limited Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney marked a disappointment for progressives seeking to keep up their momentum after clutch wins in Wisconsin and Chicago.

Former City Council members Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker and Allan Domb, former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and grocery store magnate Jeff Brown are the main contenders for the nomination.

Polling showed a tight race among the five, with large percentages of undecided voters looming. In the end, Parker was projected by The AP to take the primary.

Helen Gym gives a speech at a rally to elect her as Mayor of Philadelphia at the Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia, on May 14, 2023.
W.Wade/WENN via Newscom

Gym, however, was a favorite of progressives across the country, championing a "Green New Deal" for local schools and winning the endorsements of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Parker was the overwhelming favorite given Democrats' heavy registration advantage. The primary also has the chance to elevate who could be the first female mayor of the city -- which has had 99 male mayors.

Pennsylvania House special election

Democrats narrowly won back the Pennsylvania state House in the 2022 midterms -- but that one-seat majority was at risk in a special election Tuesday.

The Philadelphia-area race featured Democrat Heather Boyd and GOP candidate Katie Ford, and normally would have been a safe race after former state Rep. Mike Zabel won reelection with 65% of the vote last year before resigning over sexual harassment allegations.

However, potentially due to the stakes of the race or the aftermath of Zabel's scandal, Democrats and Republicans both invested big dollars over the seat. Boyd ultimately defeated Ford, according to an AP projection, helping Democrats keep their wafer-thin majority.

Democrats warned that a Ford win would let Republicans not only let the state legislature serve as a blockade to Gov. Josh Shapiro, but also introduce a constitutional amendment scrapping abortion rights in the state, something state Republicans denied.

Jacksonville mayoral runoff

A mayoral runoff in Jacksonville helped serve as a reality check on Republicans' strength in Florida after big wins in the 2022 midterms.

Donna Deegan, a Democrat, is projected by the AP to have defeated GOP candidate Daniel Davis. Deegan will succeed term-limited Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican.

The northeast Florida city, home to almost 1 million people, is the largest city in the country to have a Republican mayor. The city voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, but DeSantis won it convincingly last year.

Polling was close in the race, which focused largely on crime and policing.

The result marked another blow to DeSantis, who campaigned for Davis. However, he appeared in Iowa the weekend before the race rather than do any campaigning in Jacksonville.

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