GOP Supermajority In Kentucky Hinges On Outcome Of 6 Races

Nov 8, 2018

Credit Alexey Stiop / 123rf Stock Photo

Republican hopes of maintaining the party's supermajority in the state House of Representatives hinge on the results of six races that are still too close to call, including an agonizingly close race in western Kentucky where the candidates are separated by just one vote.

Republicans entered the 2018 election with a 62-47 majority in the 100-seat House of Representatives, with one vacancy. Republicans won 59 seats on Tuesday while Democrats won 35. A supermajority requires 60 votes, making it easier for the political party in power to pass its agenda without getting help from the other side. The House requires at least 60 votes to send proposed constitutional amendments to the voters or to raise revenue or spend money in odd-numbered years.

Cumulatively, fewer than 100 votes separate the candidates in the six outstanding House races. Candidates have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. to ask for a recanvass, a process through which election officials double-check vote totals to make sure there are no mistakes. Recanvasses rarely change the outcome of elections. After that, candidates could ask for a recount, but they would have to pay for it themselves.

Of the six House races in dispute, Democrats are leading in four of them. If the results hold, it would give Republicans exactly 60 votes when the legislature reconvenes in January.

Three incumbents were in danger of losing their seats. In Daviess County, Democrat Jim Glenn leads Republican DJ Johnson by just one vote out of the 12,637 votes cast. Glenn, a college professor, held the seat for five terms before losing to Johnson in 2016. Johnson said he plans to ask for a recanvass.

"We absolutely owe it to all the voters to make sure everything is 100 percent accurate," he said.

In Hardin and Meade counties, six-term incumbent Democrat Jeff Greer was losing to Republican Nancy Tate by just six votes. Greer said he will likely ask for a recanvass and pay for a recount.

"Six votes is a hard pill to swallow. But, I don't want to portray myself as a sore loser or one untrusting of the system. But I've got to explore my options," Greer said. "I've got to pay for the recount, but I'll go out and pick up aluminum cans and come up with the money somehow."

Five-term Republican incumbent Jill York said she would ask for a recanvass after unofficial results showed her trailing Democrat Kathy Hinkle by five votes in district 96. In district 91, Democrat Cluster Howard was leading Republican Rep. Toby Herald by just seven votes. Herald ousted Howard from the seat in 2016.

In district 81, Republicans hope to hang on to a seat held by GOP Rep. Wesley Morgan, who lost in the May primary. Republican Deanna Frazier was leading Morgan Eaves by 24 votes. Democrats are in position to pick up the seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Robert Benvenuti in district 81, where Democrat Cherlynn Stevenson leads Republican Bill Farmer by 48 votes. Farmer said he would ask for a recanvass.

In the state Senate, Democrat Dorsey Ridley was the only incumbent to be defeated, losing to Republican state Rep. Robby Mills. The loss means Democrats will have just 10 out of 38 Senate seats. But Democrats were able to pick up Mills' House seat when Democrat Rob Wiederstein defeated Republican James Buckmaster in a district that covers parts of Daviess and Henderson counties.

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This story has been corrected. The GOP edge in the Kentucky House is 59-35, not 58-36.