ROCKCASTLE COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ)- Many are calling it one of the biggest upsets and most telling races of Tuesday’s primary election, Rockcastle County teacher Travis Brenda’s victory over Jonathan Shell, Kentucky’s republican house majority leader.
After his big upset win against incumbent house majority leader Jonathan Shell, Travis Brenda spent his day here at Rockcastle County Middle School finishing up his duties as what he says is still his main job, being high school math teacher.
“That’s my life is being a teacher and I’ve been able to reach out and make a difference in a lot of people’s lives over the years,” said Travis Brenda.
On Wednesday morning Brenda showed up to a regularly scheduled teacher in-service day but this time on his way to work he was fielding calls from the New York Times and other national media outlets.
“It’s overwhelming, this whole process just the support that has been shown,” said Brenda.
Brenda rocketed into the national spotlight Tuesday night after ousting Shell, one of Kentucky’s top republican lawmakers.
“It was an exciting night just waiting as those numbers came in.,” said Brenda.
Many who voted say it was Brenda’s support of education and opposition to the republican-backed pension law that landed him in the winner’s circle.
“It was just so important to us to maybe have somebody to represent us in Frankfort because that didn’t seem to have happened the past year or two,” said Jennifer Mattingly, a voter and principal of Rockcastle County High School.
Brenda is one of more than 40 educators running for office this yea but one of just four running as a republican.
That’s why many supporters are taking his victory as a sign for what could be a big shake-up come November.
“Teachers voices are being heard and I think that’s a shift and a movement that we haven’t had in a while,” said MAttingly.
Brenda says he’s more than willing to be a part of that movement no matter his party affiliation.
“I’m not going to change what I’ve said depending on who I’m talking to or depending on the time. I am who I am and I’m just going to keep speaking what I believe,” said Brenda.
Brenda says he has already heard from some current republican state lawmakers who offered their congratulations.