2016 candidate filing update: GOP beginning to mount major challengers to Democratic incumbents

12/04/2015 10:07 AM

Attention is already shifting to 2016 races as candidates for state House and Senate begin the process of making their campaigns official with the Secretary of State.

The latest batch of candidates to file reveals some potentially major challengers to incumbent Democrats in Paducah- and Richmond-centric House districts and the beginning of a family-oriented primary battle to replace outgoing state Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset.

State House:

3rd — Republican Joni Hogancamp of Paducah has officially filed her paperwork to run for the 3rd House District seat currently held by Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah.

Hogancamp is the co-owner of Caring People Services in Paducah. She first announced her run for office over the summer, telling WPSD that the states policies and regulations are costing Kentuckians jobs.

The district encompasses part of McCracken County.

25th — Elizabethtown Democrat Michael Dile filed his paperwork this week to challenge first-term incumbent Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown.

The 25-year-old Dile decided to run for office after a mock government experience at Boys State, he told the Hardin County News-Enterprise. Diles is a former district executive with the Boy Scouts of America and previously worked for Kohl’s and Barnes and Noble, according to his LinkedIn profile.

46th — Louisville Republican Bill Dudley filed paperwork on Wednesday to seek the soon to be open 46th House District race. The seat has been held by retiring lawmaker Rep. Larry Clark, who endorsed Democrat Alan Gentry a self-employed businessman and entrepreneur.

Clark has represented the district for 31 years.

54th — Danville Republican Steve Evans has filed for the soon to be open seat held by now Auditor-elect Mike Harmon of Danville. Evans is the Madison County Schools’ district assessment coordinator and is seeking the nomination for the yet to be called special election to replace Harmon for the 2016 session.

Gov.-elect Matt Bevin has not yet called a special election for the post, which would be held prior to the Nov. 8 election. Harmon is still a state representative ahead of taking office in January.

Evans told Pure Politics that even if he is not selected as the nominee by the party, he intends to stay in the race for the seat in the general election.

58th — Republican Rob Rothenburger of Shelbyville has filed to run in the GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, who will complete his seventh term in office in 2016.

Rothenburger has served as the Shelby County Judge Executive since 2003 — the same year Montell began representing the district in Frankfort.

73rd — Democrat Kenneth Blair has filed to run in the 73rd House District that includes Clark County and portion of Madison County.

Winchester Republican Les Yates has also filed in a potential primary challenge to Rep. Donna Mayfield of Winchester. Yates is formerly hosted “Les Talk Radio” on WSKV radio and is the owner of a local business.

81st — Gus LaFontaine, a Republican from Richmond, filed paperwork last week to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Rita Smart.

LaFontaine is a member of the Kentucky National Guard and received the Bronze Star for valor for his bravery. The Richmond candidate is well known in the area and the founder of LaFontaine Preparatory School.

Smart has held off GOP challengers in the last two election cycles after winning election in 2010. The district includes Richmond and its surrounding area in central Madison County.

State Senate

15th — The GOP primary to replace outgoing Sen. Chris Girdler is already underway with two candidates officially filing paperwork to run for the post, including Gridler’s uncle.

Rick Girdler, a Somerset insurance agent, uncle of Sen. Chris Girdler and cousin to Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler, will face Republican Don Moss who is also an insurance salesman in the district, which represents Boyle, Lincoln and Pulaski Counties.

Other Somerset residents have filed letters of intent to seek the office, but have not yet officially entered the race.

21st — Democrat Janice Odom of Clay City has filed to run in the district comprised of Bath, Estill, Jackson, Laurel, Menifee and Powell Counties.

Odom is a partner in Bellamy-Fleming Publishing, a company that publishes memoirs, children’s books, some fiction titles, as well as magazines, according to a biography with Democratic women’s group Emerge Kentucky. Odom is also a local radio host and volunteer grant writer.

Sen. Albert Robertson, R-London, currently represents the district.

Candidates have until January 26 at 4 pm to file for the election.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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