Denton's decision sets off chain reaction in Jeff. Co. but won't include Heiner

09/09/2013 05:46 PM

Republican state Sen. Julie Denton’s decision to run for Louisville Metro Council instead of a sixth term for Senate is part of a political domino chain in Eastern Jefferson County that could involve some well-known Republican names.

Denton decided to seek the 19th Metro Council seat after learning of incumbent Republican Councilman Jerry Miller’s interest in running for a newly-created state House District in Eastern Jefferson County. That solidly Republican 36th House District will cover much of the suburbs east and northeast of the Gene Snyder Expressway.

Miller said he and Denton first discussed the moves on Saturday:

Miller looks to start as the clear favorite for the 36th House District. Two Republicans had expressed interest in a similar district when it was proposed last year. Former congressional candidate Todd Lally and former assistant U.S. Attorney Erwin Roberts filed to run for the seat before the courts threw that redistricting map out. But Miller said he talked to both Lally and Roberts, who told him neither will run. Roberts just launched a new law firm and Lally is moving to Shelby County, Miller said.

As for which Republican might be favored to succeed Denton, three prominent Republicans live in the 36th Senate District in northeast Jefferson County: state Rep. Julie Raque Adams, former GOP gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett and former councilman and 2010 Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner.

But Heiner confirmed Monday that has “no interest” in running for the state Senate.

Instead, he’s still looking at the 2015 governor’s race. He wouldn’t confirm or deny talks with 2011 Republican candidate Todd P’Pool about teaming up on a GOP slate for governor and lieutenant governor:

Neither Moffett nor Adams has confirmed interest in the race.

Denton, meanwhile, explained that she wanted to focus more on local issues and didn’t view the change as a political “demotion.”

Denton, as chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee, made headlines in recent sessions over her push for more accountability in the Health and Family Services Cabinet in child abuse and neglect cases. She often clashed with the former cabinet secretary, Janie Miller, over the oversight of social workers. And Denton was among the first to raise concerns about how Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration handled the implementation of managed care starting in 2011.

But Denton also proved to be a thorn in the side of some Republicans. She sought to challenge then-Republican Senate President David Williams for the top spot in the Senate in 2011 but ultimately dropped out of the leadership race before the vote.

Senate President Robert Stivers, who took over when Williams became a judge last fall, issued a statement wishing Denton well and calling her a “valuable member” of the GOP caucus.

“Julie’s knowledge of health services and desired outcomes is unparalleled and she uses her position as chairwoman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee to always bring government to account for both the sake of the most vulnerable but also the tax-payer,” Stivers said. “She is an eagle-eyed defender of the causes she espouses and the people – oftentimes the ones with the least voice – she fights for. We are indeed fortunate to have her many gifts in the State Senate.”

In her statement announcing her decision on Monday, here’s what Denton said about her reasons for getting into public life and why she wants a switch:


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