It's GOP's Lyen Crews versus Democrat James Kay in Central Ky.'s open 56th House district

04/30/2013 06:50 PM

Republicans from Woodford, Fayette and Franklin counties on Tuesday night picked former House candidate Lyen Crews, an administrator at Midway College, to go up against Democrat James Kay in the June 25 special election to replace Democratic Rep. Carl Rollins.

Four Republicans were nominated but the other three withdrew their names after Crews addressed the GOP 56th District committee. The Republican Party of Kentucky issued a statement with an excerpt of Crews’ remarks:

“For nearly a century now, Democrats have controlled the House of Representatives in Frankfort. They’ve followed in the footsteps of President Obama’s failed policies -with crippling taxes, outrageous spending, and an overall hostile environment to small businesses and small business owners… I would like nothing more than to represent our district and send a message to Barack Obama and the Liberals in Washington and Frankfort. And unlike my recently nominated opponent, who has publicly praised Obama’s reelection and liberal agenda, my message is this: It’s time for Republicans to take back the house, return the state government to the people, and finally move the Commonwealth in the right direction….We will win back the house, and it starts with the 56th district.”

Crews lost to Rollins in 2010 by less than 1,000 votes out of more than 15,000 cast. Rollins received 52.3 percent of the vote in the overwhelmingly Democratic-registered district. He spent nearly $57,000 compared to about $17,300 for Crews.

Crews kept his Facebook page for his candidacy open after nearly running again for the seat in 2012.

Crews and Kay are vying to replace Rollins, who resigned from the House last week after he was named the head of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. Rollins had represented Woodford County, eastern Franklin County and a piece of western Fayette County since being elected in November 2006.

Democrats from those counties picked Kay at a meeting Monday night. Kay, the Woodford County Democratic chairman, served as a legislative aide to Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo during the 2013 legislative session.

Kay said he has asked Chad Aull to run his campaign. Aull has established himself as an up-and-coming Democratic operative who has worked as an assistant to Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson.

Kay wasted little time in starting his campaign. He answered the phone Tuesday afternoon on his way to the Frankfort farm banquet, where he planned to introduce himself to prospective voters.

“I fully expect this to be a tough race,” Kay said before the Republican selection meeting. “But I think Republicans are going to throw a lot at me from outside of the district. I have a good rapport with Republicans, especially in Woodford County.
I would expect some of the dirty tactics, some of the Mitch McConnell tactics to come from outside the district.”

Kay said given Rollins’ tenure as education committee chairman, he expected the future of education and funding to be a key issue in the abbreviated campaign.

He said he was glad to see the legislature take steps to stem the financial hemorrhaging of the state pension system, although he added they were “maybe not steps I would have voted for.”

Kay said he wants to see the legislature debate tax reform in order to modernize the system. And in the heart of horse country, he said he also expects casino gambling to be a key issue in the special election, although he said he’s keeping an open mind.

“Now whether I’ll fall down on the side of expanded gaming or against expanded gambling, I’m going to support the thoroughbred industry,” Kay said. “But I can’t say I’ve made up my mind on that issue.”

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