Three Republican Committee Chairs Lose Seats to ‘Insurgents,’ Sending ‘Shockwaves’

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 18, 2022) – Three Republican committee chairs in the Kentucky House of Representatives lost their seats to extremists in their party’s primary, pushing their party even further to the right and more out of touch with most Kentuckians.

“But the insurgents won big in the northern part of the state, as Reps. Adam Koenig, Ed Massey and Sal Santoro were defeated by challengers Steven Doan, Steve Rawlings and Marianne Proctor, respectively,” according to the Courier-Journal. “These Northern Kentucky shockwaves will surely be felt in the House Republican caucus room in Frankfort.”

Republican Reps. Koenig, Massey and Santoro all lost their seats in primaries on Tuesday. Reporters and political observers said their defeat was “rare” and a “pretty big deal for NKY and the House GOP.”

The “liberty” candidates who did lose on Tuesday were those who filed the impeachment petition and personally attacked Gov. Andy Beshear, showing that even within the Republican primary attacking our popular governor was not a winning strategy.

Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge released the following statement on extreme Republican candidates defeating incumbents on Tuesday, driving the party even further to the right:

“The Republican majority in the General Assembly and special interests spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to save their extreme incumbents from even more extreme challengers. The Kentucky Republican Party isn’t just surrendering to extremists in their party — they’re nominating more and more of them for public office, pushing their party even further to the extreme and further out of touch with the vast majority of Kentuckians and our values. Kentuckians have an increasingly clear choice between a party creating a record number of good-paying jobs, that supports public schools and expanding access to health care and an unhinged, extreme party hellbent on cruelty, division and undermining a popular Governor. A majority of Kentuckians support Gov. Beshear because he has led with strength, courage and compassion during difficult years with the pandemic and historic storms and now is leading us into the greatest economic growth in our history.”

Elridge added: “While some of these fringe candidates won on Tuesday, those who spewed hateful rhetoric at Gov. Beshear and filed the impeachment petition against him lost. Even in a Republican primary, where many of the voters agree with Gov. Beshear’s actions to protect Kentuckians, personally attacking a popular Governor was a losing strategy.”

Those victories by extremists only include those who unseated incumbents and not others who won open seats or those including Jerry Gearding, who was uncontested in the Republican primary for House District 67 even though the Northern Kentucky seat in Campbell County is a top target for Republicans. Gearding has posted that Jan. 6 was fake and has a history of domestic violence charges, including knocking one woman’s head against a microwave and pushing another woman’s face into the ground. In contrast, incumbent Rep. Rachel Roberts is a small business owner who has fought for her district, our schools, fellow small businesses and the people of Kentucky.

Republicans did manage to maintain some other seats against so-called “liberty” candidates, but it cost them. They had to spend heavily to save their incumbents from extreme candidates who filed the impeachment petition against the Governor, organized the armed rally where the Governor was hanged in effigy, justified the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and posted about hanging traitors.

National political groups and Sen. Donald Douglas’s campaign spent at least $200,000 for television ads to save him from Andrew Cooperrider, a barista who attended armed Capitol rallies and posted “you reap what you sow” on Jan. 6, 2021

“It looks like GOP super PAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership spent a bunch on last-minute digital ads for Rep. Sal Santoro, defending him against ‘big liars.’ I guess they saw big trouble coming, but it wasn’t enough, as Marianne Proctor came out of nowhere to knock him off,” according to Courier-Journal reporter Joe Sonka.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie and State Rep. Savannah Maddox, as they did in other legislative races, worked to unseat their own incumbents with more extreme candidates. In races including Douglas’s state senate race, Congressman Massie and Rep. Maddox directly opposed an incumbent supported by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr and Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

Chris Brown of Elsmere is the Democratic nominee for House District 69, currently represented by Koenig. Tim Montgomery of Burlington is the Democratic nominee in House District 66, which is currently represented by Massey.

Massey is chair of the House Judiciary committee, Santoro chair of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation and Koenig chair of the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee.