The Richmond Register

Local News

June 25, 2013

Tuesday special election carries statewide impact

FRANKFORT —  June 25 isn’t a date one usually associates with elections, but voters in Kentucky’s 56th House District will go to polls Tuesday in a widely watched, expensive special election.

The question is how many will vote in the state House district that takes in all of Woodford County and parts of Franklin and Fayette counties.

The race features three candidates:

• Republican Lyen Crews, 51, a CPA by training who works for ecampus.com, a textbook company, and formerly a financial officer at Midway College

• Democrat James Kay, 30, an attorney who has worked on the staffs of Ben Chandler and state House Democratic leadership

• Independent John-Mark Hack, 46, owner of Marksbury Farm Market and formerly an agriculture official in the administration of Democratic Gov. Paul Patton.

All reside in Woodford County. They seek to fill the unexpired term of Democrat Carl Rollins who resigned to take a job in higher education.

The district is Democratic by registration: 21,818 Democrats; 11,159 Republicans; and 2,007 registered as independent or other.

Special elections are always dicey because the casual voter usually isn’t engaged or motivated. They are usually decided by party activists. A special election in June, in the midst of vacation season, could be decided by an unusually small number of voters.

Woodford County Clerk Jodie Woolums said her office sent out only 18 absentee paper ballots, but 242 people voted absentee at her office. The second number is a bit high for a special election, but she thinks there’s a reason.

“Everybody is on vacation,” Woolums said. “It’s a bad time for a special election.” She wouldn’t hazard a guess on turnout.

But the candidates and parties see it as critical.

Crews held a “Final Four” kickoff rally Friday at a Woodford County farm attended by several Republican state lawmakers and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. The “Final Four” referred to the final four days of the election.

On Monday, Kay and about 70 Democratic supporters gathered at state party headquarters in Frankfort and the message was “every vote counts.”

Several prominent Democrats including former governor and current state Sen. Julian Carroll and Gov. Steve Beshear urged those on hand to get out and vote Tuesday and just as importantly call other Democrats and get them to go vote.

“It comes down to who turns out and votes tomorrow,” Beshear told the crowd, his arm around Kay’s shoulders.

Hack, who has been heavily outspent by both of the major party candidates, used a couple of tailored mailings over the weekend to spur his supporters. One showed quotes from Democrats like Beshear, Wendell Ford and even former President Bill Clinton praising Hack — but about events unrelated to this election.

The one sent to Republicans used a similar quote from Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. The Republican Party of Kentucky sent out a press release Monday making it clear McConnell hadn’t endorsed Hack.

Crews has campaigned on Republicans’ contention it’s time to give their party control of the House which Democrats have controlled since 1922; on fiscal spending issues; and what he claims is Kay’s youth and lack of experience. He’s also tried to make Democratic President Barack Obama an issue.

Carroll, a former governor, who now represents Franklin County in the Senate, addressed Kay’s youth head-on at Monday’s Democratic rally, saying he was 29 when he was first elected to the legislature.

Democratic Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, upped even Carroll, saying he turned 26 on the day he was first elected to the House.

Kay has campaigned on support for public education – the district is home to many state workers and Rollins chaired the House Education Committee. He favors expanded gambling while Crews said he would favor a constitutional referendum to decide the issue.

Hack opposes expanded gambling and proposed a surcharge on hotel room charges to support the thoroughbred industry. There are horse farms and related businesses in all three counties.

Hack is running as the outsider, attacking both parties’ performance in Frankfort. He wants voters to repeal the 2000 constitutional amendment which authorized annual sessions of the General Assembly. He is endorsed by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

But he’s badly outspent, having reported raising only about $22,000 through the last reporting period. Meanwhile, Kay has raised $132,000 and Crews $68,000 during the same period.

Outside groups are spending heavily on the race. The Republican State Leadership Committee, based in Washington, D.C., has spent more than $175,000 on behalf of Crews while a pro-Democratic group, Kentucky Family Values, has spent about $50,000 on behalf of Kay.

The race will cost more than half a million dollars and if turnout is as low as some fear, it would represent an incredible amount spent per vote.

The outcome is important beyond the district. Democrats control the House majority 54-45, but Republicans hope to reverse the majority in 2014. If Crews can win Tuesday, that would narrow the gap to 54-46. Republicans would then need to flip only five seats to take control.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-20 Shoulders-B.jpg Eggs fly at park

    Easter has probably never been so “eggstravagant” in Richmond as it was Saturday during the annual Eggstravaganza in Irvine-McDowell Park.
    For the first time, thousands of eggs were dropped, appropriately by an “eggbeater”-type helicopter, in addition to thousands of eggs already scattered on the grass below. Together, they numbered about 10,000, according to Erin Moore, Richmond Parks and Recreation director.

    April 20, 2014 12 Photos

  • City awaits funds for Water Street project

    Richmond city officials are still awaiting word on grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Water Street drainage project.
    However, Mayor Jim Barnes said he is confident the money should come through by May 1.

    April 20, 2014

  • Kitcarson1.jpg Elementary schools built in ‘60s getting upgrades

    Renovation of three Madison County elementary schools built in Richmond during the 1960s will start this summer.
    The county school board voted Thursday to continue with the second phase of state paperwork required for the projects.
    With a target completion date of August 2015, renovations and alterations at Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and White Hall elementary schools are estimated to cost almost $12 million.

    April 20, 2014 9 Photos

  • KY 52 link to I-75 to be discussed May 13

    While a proposed link from Nicholasville to Exit 95 on Interstate 75 north of Richmond has garnered attention and organized opposition, the state also is developing plans to link I-75 to another community to the west.

    April 20, 2014

  • May 30 last school day for students

    After 16 snows days and two weather delays this winter, the Madison County School Board decided Thursday to end the school year on Friday, May 30.

    April 19, 2014

  • 4-19 TechExtra1.jpg Students showcase projects in Technology Extravaganza

    Madison County School students showed off just how tech savvy they can be during the district’s sixth annual Technology Extravaganza on Thursday at Madison Central High School. After the showcase, more than 350 students were honored for their work.

    April 19, 2014 7 Photos

  • 4-19 SchoolBoardJesseWard.jpg Ward honored for service; tech center named after him

    Retired Madison County educator Jesse Ward was recognized Thursday for his many years of service. To honor him, Superintendent Elmer Thomas announced the board’s decision to rename the district’s technology training center on North Second Street in Richmond the Jesse P. Ward Technology and Training Center.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Brian Smith.jpg Berea man indicted on 24 child porn counts

    A Madison grand jury has indicted a Berea man on 24 counts related to child pornography.

    Brian J. Smith, 26, is charged with four counts of distribution and 20 counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by a minor.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Gregory Powell.jpg Police apprehend burglary suspect

    An observant witness was able to help Richmond police catch a burglary suspect shortly after a break-in Thursday afternoon on Savanna Drive off Berea Road.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18 PackTrack1a.jpg Walkers, runners of every age ‘Pack the Track’

    Waco Elementary and Model Laboratory schools students raised more than $8,000 (and counting) for the annual Pack the Track event at Eastern Kentucky University’s Tom Samuels Track Thursday, said Kim DeCoste of the Madison County Diabetes Coalition.

    April 18, 2014 14 Photos

AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results