TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

State News

June 27, 2013

Republicans get surprise in special election

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

Before Tuesday’s special election in the 56th House District, Republicans touted it as a forerunner to the 2014 election when Republicans hope to seize majority control from the Democrats.

After Democrat James Kay won fairly easily over Republican Lyen Crews and independent John-Mark Hack, it’s now Democrats who see the outcome as a favorable sign.

Democrats now hold a 55-45 margin in the lone remaining legislative chamber in the South which is controlled by Democrats. Had Crews won, Republicans would be within striking distance and they made no secret the race was the start of an effort to “flip the House” in 2014.

As part of their strategy Crews and the Republican Party used a favorite tactic of trying to link Kay to Democratic President Barack Obama and House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, both of whom are unpopular in Kentucky.

“It didn’t work,” said Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, the House Caucus Chairman. “We’ll see if it works in 2014,” she added, smiling. Republicans were “the ones who said (the special election) set the tone for 2014 and I certainly hope they’re right.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said nationalizing state House races won’t work in 2014.

“People realize we’re Kentuckians and we’re not in agreement with Washington politics and we’re dealing with Kentucky issues,” Stumbo said Wednesday. “If you have a candidate like James Kay or like Lyen Crews, people know them and they know what they stand for in those communities. It’s kind of hard to make (voters) believe they are something they’re not.”

But the 56th District, which includes all of Woodford County and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties, is hardly representative of all of Kentucky. It’s heavily Democratic in registration, better educated and more affluent than many districts, and is home to a lot of state workers who tend to be registered Democrats.

“It’s a Democratic district,” said Rep. John “Bam” Carney, R-Campbellsville, who is House Republican Whip and campaigned for Crews. “It’s only 33 percent Republican and (Crews) got 34 percent of the vote.”

But Carney seemed to acknowledge the strategy didn’t work as well in the 56th as Republicans hoped.

He wouldn’t reveal House Republican plans for 2014 but suggested Republicans will review the 56th District race as they plan for 2014.

“We’ll keep the playbook quiet right now,” Carney said, “but we’ll probably revisit the playbook, too.”

Carney remains optimistic about his party’s 2014 prospects when Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell will be on the top of the ticket. McConnell has already made plain he plans to campaign as much against Obama next year as against whomever is the Democratic nominee.

“We’re feeling very positive going forward for 2014,” Carney said.

State Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said it’s still likely Republicans will try to capitalize on Obama’s unpopularity in Kentucky.

“I’m certain the Washington politics will attach to some of the races next year,” Stivers said, especially after Obama announced Tuesday he will take executive action to rein in carbon emissions which are generated from coal-burning power plants.

Stivers said that won’t play well in Kentucky which is dependent on coal for generating 90 percent of its electricity.

Stumbo countered that “comprehensive” polling in the 56th District indicated McConnell was more unpopular in that district than Obama, though he conceded the district may not reflect the attitudes of voters in other parts of the state, especially in coal fields.

But he still took a shot at McConnell after hearing Stivers’ comments about Obama’s announcement he’d move on climate change and carbon emissions.

“The shame of that is that we don’t have a United States senator who cares enough about his constituency in Kentucky to go to the president and make some sort of arrangement to keep those bad things from happening,” Stumbo responded. “An effective senator would’ve done that.”

The 2014 races won’t be decided until November of that year – but the campaign seems already to have begun.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Grimes comes out firing on McConnell

    Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in this fall’s elections, went after the five-term incumbent in a speech here to a convention of local county officials.

    July 11, 2014

  • Conway, Comer address judge-execs

    It might have been a preview of next year’s Kentucky governor’s election — but county officials here for a convention probably didn’t expect one likely candidate to endorse a potential opponent.

    July 11, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes parade cases

    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes know a good place to look for votes when they see it.

    July 7, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes disagree on contraception case

    Kentucky’s Republican congressman praised Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that corporations may opt out of a requirement to provide employees contraceptive coverage through insurance plans.

    July 1, 2014

  • Beshear sings praises of Affordable Care Act

    Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told a Washington conference Tuesday that Kentucky’s embrace of the Affordable Care Act has been “life-changing” for thousands of Kentucky enrollees and “transformative” for Kentucky.

    June 18, 2014

  • Kentucky actually fares well under new EPA regs

    Kentucky politicians and the coal industry howled about the latest installment of greenhouse gas emission regulations issued last week by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • New EPA C02 regs examined

    Given their complexity and potential impact in coal-dependent states like Kentucky, there’s considerable confusion about new carbon emission regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • State budget officials predict ‘significant shortfall’

    With only 20 days left in the 2014 fiscal year, state budget officials announced Tuesday Kentucky faces an “inevitable” and “significant” revenue shortfall in both the General and Road Funds.

    June 11, 2014

  • Grimes ad blasts Obama for coal policies

    Mitch McConnell is no longer the only U.S. Senate candidate running against Democratic President Barack Obama.

    June 5, 2014

  • Legislative leaders blast carbon regs

    President Barack Obama’s efforts to rein in carbon emissions, blamed by science for changes in the climate, continues to draw harsh criticism from both political parties in Kentucky.

    June 5, 2014