A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Northern Kentucky ousts three Republican state House incumbents — and a bunch of political clout

By Jack Brammer
NKyTribune reporter
Northern Kentucky lost three Republican incumbents in the Kentucky House of Representatives in Tuesday’s primary elections as well as much political clout in the legislature.

A great deal of political clout in the legislature has been lost, especially for Boone County, which had in it districts represented by the three losing incumbents, said Ryan Salzman, associate professor of political science at Northern Kentucky University.

Sal Santoro

“It will take more than one two-year term in the state House for freshmen legislators to regain the political advantages the incumbents, who were in key roles, have had,” said Salzman.

Going down to defeat were three Northern Kentucky GOP incumbents who were committee chairmen. All lost to challengers who advocated the small government movement known as “liberty” even though they were better funded.

In the 60th House District Republican primary, incumbent Sal Santoro of Union lost to Marianne Proctor. Unofficial results showed Proctor getting 1,958 votes to 1,827 for Santoro.  The district includes part of Boone County. State election finance records as of May 4 showed Santoro with $122,872, compared to $16,431 for Proctor.

Santoro, a former state trooper and president of Santoro Electric Co., was first elected to the state House in 2007. He is chair of the House transportation budget subcommittee.

Proctor is a Union speech-language pathologist.

In the 66th House District that includes part of Boone County, C. Edward Massey, a Hebron attorney who has been in the House since 2019 and is chair of the House Judiciary Committee, lost to Steve Rawlings, a Burlington businessman and attorney, 2,695 votes to 1,277.  The latest campaign finance records showed Massey with $68,716 and Rawlings with $34,970. Massey has been involved in criminal justice issues and pension reform.

Adam Koenig

In the 69th House District, made up of part of Boone and part of Kenton counties, Adam Koenig of Erlanger, a Realtor who was elected to the state House in 2006, was defeated by Erlanger city councilman Steven Doan whose endorsements included the National Association for Gun Rights PAC. The unofficial vote was 1,369 for Doan and 1,179 for Koenig. In campaign finances, Koenig reported $152,558 and Doan $47,472.

Koenig is chair of the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee. He has been trying to bring sports betting to Kentucky.

Santoro’s defeat is “really a punch in the gut to the region,” said professor Salzman.

Koenig agreed.

“When I first went to Frankfort, Northern Kentucky was not getting its fair share of state money for roads. With Sal in his position, we’re finally getting back more money for infrastructure.”

Santoro said early Wednesday morning that he probably would not seek a recanvass of the votes in the close contest.

Ed. Massey

Asked if Northern Kentucky will lose political clout now in the legislature, Santoro said without elaboration, “I expect so.”

Koenig also said he will not seek a recanvass.

He attributed his loss to low voter turnout.

“It’s what Northern Kentucky does in primaries,” he said.

“People who hate everything and everyone show up.”  Michon Lindstrom, a spokeswoman for Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, said statewide voter turnout Tuesday unofficially about 19 percent.

Koenig said his loss was tied to a “get-the-incumbents-out” movement. “They wanted change,” he said. “I refused to go along with that and I passed over ‘the Big Lie.’”
That is a reference to the belief by many supporters of former President Trump that a massive conspiracy led to his defeat for re-election in 2016. No court has acknowledged any evidence to support that belief. The term comes from Nazi leader Adolph Hitler, who, in his autobiographical manifesto, Mein Kampf, accused Jews of spreading lies about how the German army performed in World War I.

Koenig said he is sure another legislator will pick up his charge to bring sports betting to Kentucky.

“I just hope they invite me to the ceremony when it gets here.”

Koenig dismissed an endorsement of his opponent by U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, who breezed to victory Tuesday in his primary election.

“Massie was not a factor in my race,” said Koenig.

Professor Salzman disagrees.

“When you see that Koenig lost by what he did, everything is a factor,” he said.

State Rep. Massey could not be reached for comment Wednesday to talk about his loss. He was the target of critical ads from the Commonwealth Educational Opportunities political action committee for not voting to impeach Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear for his COVID-19 orders and legislation dealing with school choice.

With the three incumbents’ loss, Salzman said Boone County “has consistently been a leader in picking up on the ‘theme du jour’ of the Republican Party.

“That theme now is ‘Drain the Swamp. Get out the RINOs (Republican in Name Only), especially the incumbents. You are not good enough.’

“The voters have spoken. Three incumbents are out, and a lot goes with them for our region.”

Related Posts

Leave a Comment