Democratic Sen. Joey Pendleton loses re-election; GOP holds its open Senate seats

11/06/2012 10:31 PM

Republicans picked added a seat to their majority by knocking off Democratic Sen. Joey Pendleton of Hopkinsville, who has been in the Senate since 1993.

Whitney Westerfield, a Hopkinsville lawyer and former assistant commonwealth’s attorney, narrowly defeated Pendleton in all three of the counties that make up the 3rd District — including by 26 votes in their shared home county of Christian County, according to preliminary results. Vote totals across Christian, Logan and Todd counties showed Westerfield winning by fewer than 300 votes: 18,457 to 18,160.

This was the sleeper race, according to the Pure Politics pre-election analysis.

Pendleton, a former member of Senate Democratic leadership, had announced that if he won a sixth term, it would be his last one in the Senate.

Elsewhere, Republicans held three contested open seats vacated by retiring Republicans Ken Winters, Vernie McGaha and Tom Jensen.

  • 1st District: In far western Kentucky, Republican Trigg County Judge-Executive Stan Humphries easily defeated former Democratic Congressman Carroll Hubbard, 59.3 percent to 40.7 percent. It was Hubbard’s third loss for a Senate seat in six years.
  • 23rd District: In Northern Kentucky, Chris McDaniel, a Republican and concrete company owner, cruised to a 60 percent to 40 percent win over James Noll, a Villa Hills councilman and lawyer.
  • 21st District: Democrats made this one the closest even though the district is in the heart of Republican territory. Former Republican state Sen. Albert Robinson will return to Frankfort even as many Republicans in the district defected from Robinson, who is remembered for slipping in a pension increase for lawmakers into a bill in 2000. In the end, though, the district’s political make-up was too tough for political newcomer Amie Hacker to overcome.

By holding their open seats vacated by retiring Republicans and picking up the seat in Christian, Logan and Todd counties, Republicans now have constitutional majority of 23 members. Independent Sen. Bob Leeper of Paducah makes 24.

Democrats, despite keeping Sen. Perry Clark in Louisville, fall to 14 — their lowest mark. Clark defeated Republican Chris Thieneman, 58.6 percent to 41.4 percent. That takes Judge Charles Cunningham off the hook. Now his forthcoming ruling on whether Thieneman legitimately lives in the southern Louisville district won’t have an effect on the outcome.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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