FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Democrats were unable to flip the Kentucky House or even reduce the GOP supermajority, but there will be a lot of new faces – many of them women - in the chamber when lawmakers convene in January.
Two Jefferson County Republicans, Phil Moffett and Ken Fleming, were defeated by Democratic women, Lisa Bojanowski and Maria Sorolis, respectively.
A pair of House seats that have flip-flopped between two candidates, have flipped once again. In Eastern Kentucky’s 91st District, incumbent Republican Gary “Toby” Herald, who narrowly defeated Democrat Cluster Howard in 2016, found himself on the losing end to Howard this time.
The same holds true in Daviess County’s 13th District, where Democrat Jim Glenn, who lost to Republican DJ Johnson two years ago, recaptured his seat, by a one vote margin, 6,319 to 6,318. There will likely be a recanvass request by Johnson for that seat as well as one by incumbent Democrat Jim Greer in the 27th District, consisting of parts of Bullitt, Meade and Hardin counties. He lost by six votes to Republican Nancy Tate.
Democrats also captured two other eastern Kentucky seats held by Republicans who were elected during the so-called “Trump Tsunami” of 2016, but those gains were mostly offset by GOP victories in most of the open seats that had been held by Democrats.
Two Republican House members who were accused of inappropriate behavior toward women were re-elected.
Michael Meredith of Brownsville signed a secret sexual harassment settlement last year along with three other GOP lawmakers. In April, the Legislative Ethics Commission dismissed ethics charges against him. He handily beat Democrat William "Bill" Fishback.
Jim Stewart of Flat Lick was accused of making unwanted verbal advances to a female courier in 2015, according to a memo from the former chief of staff of the House Republican Caucus. Stewart has denied the allegations, easily won over Democrat Debra Ferguson Payne.
When all is said and done, the Republicans, who had a 63-37 supermajority, will remain with more than 60 members.
House Democrat Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, expressed his disappointment, saying, “While I wish we had a better overall outcome, I am proud of the hard-fought victories we had in many districts. I saw first-hand that our candidates and their supporters put everything they had into their campaigns, but we faced an uphill battle because of a nationalized climate and the unfortunate rise of dark money and negative attacks.”
Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a top Republican Super PAC in Kentucky, invested more than $600,000 in this year’s state legislative elections. KSL bought television, radio, digital, and direct mail advertising in several winning campaigns.
“We were proud to help the Republican Party win the State House in 2016, and proud to help the GOP hold it in 2018. Kentucky is better with Republicans in charge in Frankfort,” said KSL chief strategist Scott Jennings.
The Republicans were expected to face more of a challenge by teachers angry about pension reforms. At least nine of 36 current or former teachers on the ballot won seats in the Legislature, falling far short of their goal to end GOP reign.