FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — State Democrats had hopes of winning some seats in suburban Kentucky areas. Instead, Republicans picked up 12 seats Tuesday, adding to their super-majority in the state Legislature.
“With majorities this large it’ll be hard to exercise much moderation,” says Al Cross, esteemed political journalist and commentator.
What did Cross think about the races?
“I was surprised by the strong gains the Republicans made,” says Cross. “The Democrats loss some incumbents and did not pick up some of the suburban seats that they had hoped to. It was a pretty big wipe out for Democrats.”
So far, the Associated Press has Republicans winning 68 seats in the state House with Democrats winning 21; 13 Republicans winning Senate seats and five Democrats.
That’s a 72 to 28 supermajority in the House and could possibly expand to 75 seats once other races are called.
Cross thinks the presidential election had a lot to do with the results.
“Increasingly, people take their cues of voting from the top of the ticket or near the top of the ticket,” says Cross. “Donald Trump ran strongly. Mitch McConnell ran strongly.”
Fayette and Jefferson were the only counties with majority of blue votes..
“I think we’ve all got to wake up today a little more concerned,” says Fayette County Democratic Party Chair Josh Mers. “If you’re a public school teacher you’ve got to wake up a little more concerned. If you’re a member of a union in this commonwealth you’ve gotta wake up a little more concerned.”
House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins says the nationalization of state races was difficult to overcome and the pandemic made it tougher for candidates to get their voices heard.
“We won’t hesitate to call out any actions from the majority party that would hurt Kentucky families. That especially includes legislation undermining public education or access to quality and affordable healthcare,” says Rep. Jenkins in a statement.
“Let’s mend some of those bridges,” says Mers. “Let’s find a way that our parties can work together. That the General Assembly and the governor’s office can work together because the lives of Kentuckians are at stake.”
The wins came in all kinds of districts for Republicans.
In the Senate, the GOP picked up the 7th Senate District, which had been held by Democrat Julian Carroll who did not seek reelection, when Adrienne Southworth defeated Democrat Joe Graviss, who gave up his House seat for the Senate run.
In the rural 29th Senate District, 19-year incumbent Democrat Johnnie Ray Turner lost to Republican Johnny L. Turner.
In the 10th District, Republican Josh Calloway has defeated Democratic incumbent Dean Schamore.
In the 11th District, Republican Johnathon Dixon defeated Democrat Wiederstein.
In the 13th District Republican D. J. Johnson turned the tables on Democrat Jim Glenn. Glenn defeated Johnson two years ago by one vote. It wasn’t nearly as close this time with Johnson winning by a double-digit percentage.
The Democrats also lost the 39th District, which had been held by Democrat Russ Meyer, who resigned his seat. Republican Matt Locket defeated Democrat Carolyn Dupont.
In the 47th District, which was open after the resignation of Democrat Rick Rand, the GOP’s Felicia Rabourn defeated Democrat Jack Couch.
In the 48th District Republican Ken Fleming, who lost to Democrat Maria Sorolis in 2018, regained his seat.
In the 56th District, which was open after Democrat Joe Graviss, Republican Daniel Fister defeated Democrat Lamar Allen.
In the 70th District, which was open after Democrat John Sims, Jr., decided not to seek re-election, Republican William Lee Lawrence defeated Democrat Craig Miller.
In the 91st District, which was open after Democrat Cluster Howard did not seek re-election, the GOP’s Billy Wesley handily beat Democrat Paula Clemons-Combs.
In the 93rd District, where Democrat Chris Harris did not seek re-election in favor of an unsuccessful run for the Supreme Court, Republican Norma Kirk-McCormick defeated Democrat Rod Varney.
In the 96th District, Republican Patrick Flannery upended incumbent Democrat Kathy Hinkle.
In the 100th District, Republican Scott Sharp beat Democratic incumbent Terry Branham Clark.