Democrats keep their majority in the state House after special elections

Special elections to fill four vacant seats in the state House of Representatives held Tuesday resulted in three Democratic victories and one Republican win, which keeps the chamber in Democratic control.

Democrats held two districts that were previously under Democratic control and picked up a district previously represented by the GOP in the four special contests, now giving them a 53-47 majority.

The special elections were held to fill seats left open by legislators that won constitutional offices in November when Republican Ryan Quarles became Agriculture Commissioner and Republican Mike Harmon was elected State Auditor. Two Democratic seats were also left open when John Tilley was appointed Justice Cabinet Secretary and Tanya Pullin was appointed an Administrative Law Judge by Gov. Matt Bevin.

Tilley’s seat will be filled by Rep.-elect Jeffery Taylor, the Democratic candidate who won the 8th House District race by the widest margin, a nearly 19-point win over Republican nominee Walker Thomas, of Hopkinsville. Taylor is retired from the Tennessee Valley Authority, a former IBEW member, and serves as the chair of the Christian County Democrat Party.

Republicans claimed victory in the 54th House District covering Casey and Boyle counties where Rep.-elect Daniel Elliott beat Democrat Bill Noelker, of Danville. Daniel Elliott, an attorney in Danville who earned his BA in Political Science from Bellarmine University and attended University of Kentucky Law School, will replace Harmon in the legislature.

In the 62nd House District covering Fayette, Owen and Scott counties, Democratic Rep.-elect Chuck Tackett posted the narrowest win on Tuesday, taking the 62nd House District by 253 votes or 3.8 percent over Republican Phillip Pratt. This seat is a pick-up for Democrats as it was held by Quarles, a Republican.

Tackett, who had previously run for the seat and lost to Quarles in 2014, is a local farmer and 1st Vice President of the Scott County Farm Bureau and also served as a Scott County Magistrate for eight years.

Finally, in eastern Kentucky’s 98th House District seat previously held by Pullin, Democratic Rep.-elect Lew Nicholls had a nearly 15 percent victory over Republican Greenup County Commissioner Tony Quillen. Nicholls is a former 13-year Greenup County Circuit Judge and a U.S. Military Veteran.

The Kentucky Chamber will continue to work with legislators on both sides of the aisle to make the commonwealth more competitive.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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