2016 Candidate filing update: Primaries develop, incumbents face new challengers in latest roundup

12/20/2015 11:09 AM

The GOP continues to mount top tier challengers to Democratic incumbents in several state House races in the latest round of legislative candidate filings, but Democrats are launching their own recruited candidates in an effort to keep hold of the lower chamber.

Democrats also carry the benefit of incumbency in several of the most hotly contested races soon to make headlines in 2016.

State House:

11th — Republican James Buckmaster has joined in a Republican primary for the 11th House district which encompasses part of Daviess and part of Henderson County.

Buckmaster, a Henderson doctor, is no stranger to politics. He previously ran against Rep. David Watkins in the 2014 Democratic primary.

Republican Robert “Robby” Mills, a longtime Henderson city commissioner, had previously filed to run in the district currently represented Watkins, D-Henderson, who will run again for the seat.

14th — Matt Castlen, a Republican from Maceo, filed for the district currently in Democratic control.

Castlen is a local business owner, operating Castlen Welding and Manufacturing. He serves on a number of boards in the region, weighing in on farm policy and education.

The district encompasses all of Ohio County and part of Daviess County, and has been held by Rep. Tommy Thompson since 2003.

20th — Bowling Green City Commissioner Melinda Hill, a Republican, has officially filed to run in the 20th House District. As Pure Politics previously reported, Hill previously filed a letter of intent to run for the post which has been held by Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, since 1976.

Hill is a top recruit for the GOP, and serves in local government in her second term as mayor pro tem, and other local boards.

The district includes the city of Bowling Green and several precincts in Warren County.

28th — Louisville Republican Don Dolson Sr. has filed to run for the south-western Louisville district. Republican Michael Payne has also filed for the position setting up a GOP primary.

Rep. Charles Miller, D-Louisville, has represented the area since 1998, and is seeking re-election.

49th — Bullit County Judge Executive Melanie Roberts of Shepherdsville has filed to run in the Bullitt County-centric district.

Roberts, a Republican, won a third term as Judge Executive in 2014. Former GOP Rep. Mike Nemes had previously filed to run in the district, but was appointed as the Deputy Secretary of the Labor Cabinet.

Nemes is still listed as a candidate for the post on the Secretary of State’s Election Candidate filings page.

The district created through the redistricting process is currently held by Democratic Rep. Linda Belcher.

53rd — Democrat James Sargent of Lawrenceburg has filed to run in the district which encompasses Anderson and Spencer Counties and part of Bullit County.

Sargent, part of the Anderson County School Board, told the Downtown Lawrenceburg news site that he would eventually have run for office, but wasn’t going to run in 2016 election “until he was asked.”

Republican Rep. James Tipton of Taylorsville currently represents the district, and has filed for re-election.

75th — Republican Gary McCollum of Lexington has officially filed to run in the 75th House District with has been under Democratic Rep. Kelly Flood since 2009.

McCollum is the Assistant General Counsel of Alliance Coal, LLC and a Commissioner on the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service.

In a news release announcing his intent to run in early December, the 37-year old McCollum, said he was “offering empathy, respect, and understanding on issues. And, as the 75th District’s State Representative, I’ll offer reasonable, measured, and thoughtful approaches to solving the challenges we face.”

81st — C. Wesley Morgan has joined into a Republican primary in the 81st District which includes Richmond and its surrounding area in central Madison County. Morgan previously ran as the GOP nominee for the post in 2014, losing to Democratic Rep. Rita Smart by 2,151 votes.

Gus LaFontaine, a Republican from Richmond, had previously filed filed for the seat.

Smart has held off GOP challengers in the last two election cycles after winning election in 2010.

91st — Randall Christopher of Irvine has filed to run as a Republican in the 91st District which encompasses Breathitt, Eastill, Lee, Owsley, and part of Madison Counties.

Christopher is the former interim Superintendent of Estill County Schools, and co-owner of Anglers Outpost & Marine, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Rep. Cluster Howard, D-Jackson, currently represents the district after winning by only 14 votes over GOP Rep. Toby Herald in the 2014 Election.

Howard has filed for re-election.

94th — Republican Charles Wheeler of Pikeville has filed for the district which encompasses Letcher and part of Pike Counties.

Wheeler, an ophthalmologist in the region, will vie for the GOP nomination to take on incumbent Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville. Combs has represented the region since 2007.

98th — Republican Stephen Andrew Manis has filed for the open 98th House District post formerly represented by Tanya Pullin, who will soon vacate the seat to take on a role as an administrative law judge in South Shore.

Manis of Flatwoods filed on Dec. 16, a day after news reports first indicated Pullin’s departure from the legislature. The district encompasses part of Boyd and Greenup Counties.

Gov. Matt Bevin will first call a special election to replace Pull in the post in 2016.

99th — Wynetta “Wendy” Fletcher, a Republican from Morehead, has filed for the GOP nomination in the district which encompasses Elliot, Lewis and Rowan Counties.

House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins represents the area, where he as has served since 1987.

State Senate:

5th — Democrat Leslie Stith of Guston has submitted paperwork to represent the 5th Senate District. Stith a corn, soybean and hay farmer, who retired from sales with Monsanto is vying for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Sen. Carroll Gibson of Leitchfield.

According to the Grayson County News Gazette, Stith was joined by Sen. Julian Carroll and Sen. Dennis Parrett in Frankfort to file his paperwork.

The 5th district encompasses Breckinridge, Edmonson, Grayson, Hart, Larue, and Meade Counties.

15th — The GOP primary for the 15th Senate Dist. grew by one more with Michael Keck of Science Hill officially joining the fray.

Keck will face, Rick Girdler and Don Moss in the primary to replace outgoing Sen. Chris Girdler of Somerset. The district encompasses Boyle, Lincoln and Pulaski Counties.

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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