49th House Dist. special election by the numbers

02/19/2018 03:27 PM

UPDATED: Bullitt County residents will decide on Tuesday who will represent them for the rest of 2018, Democratic candidate Linda Belcher or Republican candidate Rebecca Johnson.

The two-widows of men who have held the seat are making last minute appeals to their voters to come to the polls for the special election on Tuesday.

Johnson is seeking to continue the legacy of her husband, former Rep. Dan Johnson, who killed himself in December after accusations that he molested a 17 year old became public in a sweeping investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. The widow of the former lawmaker declared her candidacy less than 24 hours after Johnson ended his life.

Belcher has held the seat previously; she narrowly lost in the 2016 election to Johnson. Belcher is a former teacher, one of 40 educators seeking to claim seats in the General Assembly in 2018. Belcher’s husband lost his life in a car accident in 2008, Linda ran for his seat that year filling his term in the General Assembly.

Here is a look at five interesting numbers to consider heading into Election Day.

That’s the total number of votes that separated Belcher and Dan Johnson in 2016. Amid a brutal campaign season for Democrats, Johnson, who was heavily aligned with Donald Trump in vision, narrowly defeated the incumbent in a GOP wave that swept Kentucky.

That’s all the separation between Democrats and Republicans in the district. Democrats have 14,564 registered voters and Republicans have 13,533 voters, according to data from the Secretary of State’s Office. Of the 31,101 registered voters there are 2,171 registered as “other,” 733 independents, 78 registered as libertarian, according to voter data.

10 – 20 percent
The 2016 General Election between Belcher and Dan Johnson brought out 62 percent of the vote. However, 2016 was a presidential election year. This year’s General Election won’t be the same. Two-years before, in 2014, turnout was just 42 percent in the 49th Dist. during the General Election.

In recent special elections held in Kentucky, the average turnout is around 10 to 20 percent, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office. Using the high end of that scale, a mere 6,200 people could decide the next state representative.

Tuesday’s special election is the only race on the ballot at a time when voters in Bullitt County are not used to voting. Weather and interest are factors as well. But this race is drawing a ton of attention, given Johnson’s suicide and the midterm Trump phenomenon, so turnout could be difficult to predict.

Belcher’s campaign bought $1,000 of television time in the Louisville market on CNN and MSNBC last week. The buy started on Saturday Feb. 17 and will end on Tues. Feb. 20, the day of the special election.

Kentucky Family Values has spent $9,971 on radio ads supporting Belcher.

Johnson’s campaign has spent $5,000 on radio ads running in the district, according to the campaign, but has not spent on television.

The Republican Party of Kentucky has sent three mailers to voters in the district in an attempt to get-out-the-vote for Johnson. The RPK had previously disavowed Dan Johnson during the 2016 election, and did not spend on his behalf after racially charged comments from the then candidate.

One of three
This is likely the first of two times the candidates will see each other this year.

Johnson could essentially wage three elections this year, once in the special election on Tuesday, again in the May 22 Republican primary against Thomas Huff, of Shepherdsville, and then if she wins against Huff, she’ll have to face Belcher, again, who is unopposed in November for the two year term starting in 2019.


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