2016 candidate filings roundup: Matt Butler drops out of 38th District Democratic primary

11/19/2015 10:41 PM

The Republican Party holds a supermajority in the state Senate and with the election of Matt Bevin regains control of the governor’s office for just the second time in 44 years, but the real test will be to see if the GOP can gain control of the last Democratic-controlled chamber in the south — the state House.

Since 1923 Kentucky Democrats have held control of the chamber, but the flip in allegiances from Democrat to Republican by Rep. Denny Butler on Thursday has many predicting a change in the lower chamber.

As the GOP makes inroads to a majority, Democrats currently have a 53-47 lead in their lead, but there will be two special elections upcoming to replace two GOP House members who were elected to constitutional offices — Auditor-elect Mike Harmon and Agriculture Commissioner-elect Ryan Quarles — as they vacate their seats upon taking office in January, making way for special elections.

If the GOP can’t convince enough Democrats to turn their backs on their colleagues they’ll again be focused on trying to take control in the 2016 House elections.

Here’s the first in a series of rundowns on candidates filing for the election in 2016.

State House:

7th — Democrat Joy Gray of Owensboro has filed to run in the 7th House District. The district covers all of Daviess, Union, and part of Henderson County.

Gray is an educator at Daviess County Public Schools and a 2015 graduate of Democratic training group Emerge Kentucky.

Incumbent Rep. Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro, currently represents the district.
Miles rose to power after winning the seat in a 2013 special election, after former Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, resigned amid a sexual harassment investigation.

Miles defended the seat in 2014, winning re-election with a 1,000-vote margin.

11th — Republican Robert “Robby” Mills, a longtime Henderson city commissioner, has filed to run in the district currently represented by Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson.

The district encompasses part of Daviess and part of Henderson County.

After filing, Mills told WSON 860 AM that the change in direction to the Republican Party in the gubernatorial and other elections shows the district needs to be represented by the GOP.

Mills has served as a city commissioner for 16 years, according to the radio station.

33rd — Republican Jason Nemes has filed a primary challenge to longtime incumbent Rep. Ron Crimm, who has represented the district since 1997. Crimm, R-Louisville, filed for the seat three days before Nemes made his candidacy official Nov. 12, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Nemes is a Louisville lawyer and the son of former Rep. Mike Nemes. The district encompasses part of Jefferson and part of Oldham Counties.

46th — Until today there were two Democrats who had filed to replace retiring Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, who has served 31 years in office.

Democrat Alan Gentry has filed to replace the longtime representative, and Clark has endorsed Gentry in the race. According to a press release, the 51-year-old Gentry is a self-employed businessman and entrepreneur.

Matt Butler, the brother of Louisville Rep. Denny Butler, withdrew his candidacy on Thursday.

49th — Former Rep. Mike Nemes is trying to fight his way back to Frankfort. For the second cycle in a row Nemes, R-Shepherdsville, has filed to run in the Bullitt County-centric district.

In 2014, Nemes ran in the open seat race against Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville. Nemes lost that race by 737 votes.

In 2010, Nemes worked his way into legislative control in the 38th House District in a shoe-leather campaign. But Nemes lost his re-election bid in 2012 to Rep. Denny Butler in the Democratic district.

73rd — Winchester Republican Les Yates has filed 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.

The district is comprised of Clark and part of Madison Counties.

74th — Democrat James Davis of Mount Sterling has filed his paperwork to take on Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington. Hale told Pure Politics he plans on running for re-election, he just hasn’t filed his paperwork yet.

Davis, who is an attorney in the district, previously ran for the seat in the 2010 Democratic primary against former Rep. Richard Henderson. Davis lost by 880 votes in that race.

The 74th District includes Menifee, Montgomery and Powell Counties.

78th — One cycle after falling 969 votes short of knocking off Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom McKee, Republican candidate Mark Hart has filed his paperwork to try again.

Hart already has a political following as the former mayor of Falmouth and former city council member. The district is comprised of Pendleton, Harrison and part of Scott Counties.

McKee has represented the district since 1997.

82nd — Alex Patrick, a 24-year-old student at the University of the Cumberlands, filed paperwork last week to enter the race for the House seat which represents part of southern Laurel and all of Whitley Counties.

Patrick, a Republican, will primary incumbent Rep. Regina Bunch of Williamsburg. Bunch has not yet filed for re-election, but plans to do so.

The News Journal in Corbin spoke with Patrick about the race and his platform, which includes term limits and right-to-work.

95th — Democratic candidate James “Jimmy” Rose of Martin has filed paperwork to take on House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg in a Democratic primary.

The 95th District is comprised of Floyd and part of Pike Counties.

97th — Republican William Scott Wells has filed to try again to make it to Frankfort. Wells ran in the 2014 GOP primary for the seat, falling 130 votes shy of becoming the nominee to Bobby McCool.

The district, which is comprised of Johnson, Morgan and Wolfe Counties, has been represented by Rep. Hubert Collins, D-Wittensville, since 1991.

State Senate:

15th — Republican Don Moss is the first person to officially file for the soon to be open state Senate seat currently held by Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset.

Girdler announced in June that he would not be seeking re-election after serving one term in the General Assembly.

Moss is a longtime insurance salesman in the district which represents Boyle, Lincoln and Pulaski Counties. Two other Somerset residents have filed letters of intent to seek the office, but have not yet officially entered the race.

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@charter.com.

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