There was some good news in Kentucky last night, with Gov. Matt Bevin scheduling special elections to replace four general assembly seats, two Republicans and two Democrats. With House SPeaker Greg Stumbo and the Democrats having a 2-seat lead in the General Assembly, Bevin was hoping to force a 50-50 tie and throw the Assembly into chaos.
Instead, Democrats won three of the four seats.
The House will have 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans through the fall elections. It is the final state legislative chamber in the South to remain in Democratic control, and it is the last bastion of Democratic Party power in Kentucky, which otherwise has been trending Republican in state and federal elections.
Democrats won elections in Western Kentucky’s 8th District (Jeffrey R. Taylor of Hopkinsville), Central Kentucky’s 62nd District (Chuck Tackett of Georgetown) and northeastern Kentucky’s 98th District (Lew Nicholls of Greenup). The sole Republican won race in Central Kentucky’s 54th District (Daniel B. Elliott of Danville).
Two of the House seats were held previously by Republicans who won election to statewide office in November. The two others were held by Democrats who resigned to accept state posts from Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican.
Tackett, a farmer, won the night’s most exciting race by picking up a seat for the Democrats that had been held by Republican Ryan Quarles, who was elected state agriculture commissioner last November. A Republican group, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, ran radio and television ads attacking Tackett as “a government insider” because he once served on Scott County Fiscal Court.
“I stayed myself,” Tackett said Tuesday night after he was declared the winner. “I did not try to be somebody I was not. And I stayed positive. I don’t see any point in going negative.”
Tackett said he was not ready to take a position on the state budget, where Bevin wants deep cuts to higher education and other services to find money for the ailing state pension systems. But Tackett’s time on the campaign trail introduced him to Central Kentuckians who need help, including “one young lady with $28,000 in college debt,” he said.
Taylor, the only black candidate in Tuesday’s elections, won with support from Democratic President Barack Obama, who made automated calls to voters in the district on Taylor’s behalf.
Now this makes me very, very proud. Hopkinsville is out west near Interstate 24 and the Tennessee border with Clarksville. President Obama helped a black candidate there win in my state. I cannot tell you what that means to me up here in NOBAMA country.
For now, the last bastion in Bevinstan holds.