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Democrats Keep Control Of Kentucky House After Special Elections

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After four special elections for vacant state House of Representatives seats on Tuesday, the chamber is still controlled by Democrats.

Despite months of Democratic hand wringing, the party easily won elections the districts around Hopkinsville, Georgetown and South Shore in Eastern Kentucky.

Republicans won the special election in Danville in Central Kentucky.

Democrat Jeff Taylor, a retired Tennessee Valley Authority official chair, won the 8th District, which includes Hopkinsville.

Republican Daniel Elliott, an attorney and vice chairman of Boyle County’s Republican Party, won the 54th District, which includes Danville.

Democrat Chuck Tackett, a former Scott County magistrate, won the 62nd District, which includes Georgetown.

And Democrat Lew Nicholls, a retired circuit court judge for Greenup County, won the 98th District, which includes South Shore.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, a Republican from Jamestown, said on KET that the results were a letdown.

“We are a little disappointed, we wanted to win two seats today, we came up short in doing that,” Hoover said.

Republicans made flipping the House in their favor a major priority after Gov. Matt Bevin was elected in November.

Republican Party Chair Mac Brown downplayed the special election results, saying the party is focused House district races in November.

“I am confident we will take the majority and turn Kentucky in a new direction in November,” Brown said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, said his party has rebounded from losing four of six statewide races in November.

“Tonight, I think it’s pretty clear that the rebirth of this party is taking place,” Stumbo said.

Rep. Sannie Overly, a Democrat from Paris and chair of the state Democratic Party, said the election victories were “a repudiation of Gov. Bevin’s efforts to dismantle public education and healthcare.”

“Trying to dismantle Kynect, which has helped more than half a million Kentuckians obtain health insurance, is a perfect example of the bad decisions Bevin is making that will hurt the people of the Commonwealth,” Overly said.

According to CNHI, President Obama recorded robocalls in support of the Democratic candidate in Hopkinsville, Jeff Taylor.

The vacancies were created when four representatives resigned from their offices between November and January.

Two of the lawmakers were Democrats who Bevin appointed to lucrative jobs. The other two were Republicans elected to statewide office in November.

Democrats had significant voter registration advantages in all three of the districts they won on Tuesday.

Copyright 2016 WFPL-FM. To see more, visit WFPL-FM.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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