Field begins to take shape for next year's redrawn 39th House District

10/25/2013 02:50 PM

For two decades, Republicans have tried unsuccessfully to unseat Democratic state Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville. Now that he’s not seeking another term, Jessamine County Republicans say this could be their best chance to capture the district, although it didn’t get any easier for them after the new districts were drawn.

Nicholasville Mayor Russ Meyer, a Democrat, declared his candidacy for the open seat on Wednesday. Meyer has held the office of mayor since 2006, and had recently decided to not run again.

While no Republican has officially declared an intent to run, two have confirmed to Pure Politics to have an interest in the race. Jonah Mitchell, a realtor from Nicholasville, says he’ll file his letter of intent to run within a week. And Matt Lockett, who challenged Damron in 2012, said he is “leaning towards running.”

Lockett told Pure Politics he will be meeting with family and friends who helped in the 2012 campaign. Jessamine County GOP Chair Sara Kauffman says Lockett has already met with state GOP chair Steve Robertson about the race.

Damron out-raised Lockett in the 2012 general election at a rate of 12 to 1. Lockett raised $17,000 in the general election and Damron had nearly $205,000.

However, Damron only won re-election by 1,700 votes. While Lockett said he wished the election turned out in his favor, he felt “really good” about his performance in the race.

Mitchell, a Nicholasville realtor and first time candidate for elected office, says he’ll file to run in the district soon.

“It’s time for a change. We can’t afford to wait any longer. I can’t afford to wait any longer,” Mitchell said. “You don’t have any right to advice unless you invest.”

Mitchell said his campaign will focus on jobs, healthcare, and education — issues he says he is well versed in. He owns two realty and property management offices in the district, and his wife is a retired teacher. Mitchell said he also has a doctorate degree in philosophy.

Under the 2013 Special Session redistricting plan which was signed into law, the southeastern two-thirds of the Jessamine County — a section that includes Nicholasville – stays as the new 39th District. The district keeps a small slice of Fayette County but sheds the more conservative precincts in western Jessamine County, including all but the north eastern part of Wilmore.

Jessamine County as a whole, which has been a Democratic stronghold, is starting to shift to the right. Voter registration as of September showed 16,049 Democrats and 15,753 Republicans with 2,786 people in the county registered as “other.”

The newly drawn map is a concern for Mitchell, but he said if elected he would represent all of the people of Kentucky — not just a part of Jessamine and Fayette Counties.


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