Kentucky House Up for Grabs Tonight? Republicans Hope So

Nov 6, 2012

A view of the dome at the state capitol building in Frankfort
Credit Kevin Willis

Kentucky Republicans haven’t tried to keep secret the fact they want to win control of the state House for the first time since the early 1920’s. To do so, the GOP needs a net gain of ten House seats. Here's a quick look at some of the races in our region that could decide which party controls the Kentucky House come January:

*Democrat Martha Jane King has represented the 16th House District since 2009. That seat covers Logan and Todd Counties in southern Kentucky. King is being challenged by Republican Chris Hightower, the Tea Party-backed former campaign manager of Senator Rand Paul. Hightower has advertised heavily throughout the district in an effort to unseat King.

*Another competitive race is in the 24th House district, covering Casey, Marion, and part of Pulaski Counties. Democrat Terry Mills has held the seat for two years after winning a special election. He now faces a strong challenge from Republican Bill Pickerill, a native of Marion County, the most populous county in the district. The 24th House seat has been a prime target for Republicans, who see a chance to flip a seat in a district where there are more registered Republicans than Democrats.

*Bowling Green’s Jody Richards is facing his first contested general election since 1990. The Warren County Democrat has the distinction of serving as House Speaker longer than anyone in state history, from 1995 to 2009. Richards is facing a challenge from Republican Regina Webb, a local hair salon and spa owner, who has run TV ads accusing Richards of contributing to what she calls reckless spending in Frankfort. Still, Richards hasn’t taken Webb for granted, outspending her about four to one in the race.

*In Kentucky’s 27th district House race, Democratic incumbent Jeff Greer is hoping to fend off Republican Dalton Jantzen for the second election in a row. Two years ago, Greer beat Jantzen by only 128 votes. That seat covers Meade and parts of Hardin and Bullitt Counties.

*Democrat John Arnold has represented the 7th House District that covers Union and parts of Daviess and Henderson counties, since 1995. Arnold isn’t used to competition in November—in fact, he hasn’t had a general election opponent since 2004. But he’s got an opponent now in the form of Republican lawyer Tim Kline, who has the backing of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.  

It’s a seat the GOP will likely have to flip if they have any chance of taking control of the Kentucky House Tuesday night.

*Also up for grabs is the 13th House District in Owensboro, held by Democrat Jim Glenn since 2007. Glenn’s opponent isn’t a Republican, but instead Independent candidate Bill Barron, a commercial real estate developer who says he’ll caucus with Republicans if he wins.

Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2-1 in the district, but Owensboro has been moving to the right, electing a Republican state Senator and several county officers in recent years.