Friday's legislative candidate deadline sweeps big names into the confusion, while some withdraw

02/10/2012 05:15 PM

Some prominent political names including a congressional aide, a former secretary of state candidate and a couple of state Senators who thought they had been written off have filed to run in the old state Senate districts.

At the same time, some Kentuckians who had signed up to run in newly-drawn Senate districts withdrew by the end of the day Friday — the latest deadline for candidates to file. Those pulling out of Senate races included four state representatives who, to be on the safe side, filed to run again in their old House seats.

But confusion still reigns in Frankfort over which version of the state House and Senate district maps ultimately will prevail. Franklin Circuit Judge Phil Shepherd tossed out the new maps on Tuesday citing constitutional problems with some population math in a couple districts. He said the old maps are back in play and set the filing deadline for 4 p.m. Friday for candidates to comply.

But that decision will be scrutinized in the Appeals Court next week as legislative leaders who drew the maps argue that going back to the old maps is unconstitutional as well because the number of constituents in the 100 House districts and 38 Senate districts are out of whack after a decade of population shifts.

So in the meantime, the list of candidates in some districts include Republicans and Democrats from two different parts of the state.

One of the best examples is the 15th Senate District. Nine candidates are currently listed as running for that district — four from the Bardstown-Shepherdsville area near Louisville and five from the Somerset region in southern Kentucky.

Under the proposed Senate map, a new 15th District was created to cover Nelson and Bullitt Counties. Two Democrats — Eddie O’Daniel of Bloomfield in Nelson County and J. Scott Wantland of Shepherdsville — and two Republicans — Joe E. Laswell of Shepherdsville and Dennis Mitchell of Bullitt County near West Point — remain filed for the 15th District.

Another Republican, state Rep. David Floyd of Bardstown, had withdrawn from his House seat last month to run for this new district, then withdrew from the Senate seat on Thursday to run again for his old House seat.

Here’s the Senate map that has been tossed out, largely because the proposed 8th District covering Daviess and Ohio counties was over the maximum population threshold:

Under the old district put back into effect by Shepherd’s ruling, the 15th District would cover Russell, Pulaski, Casey and Adair counties. Republican Sen. Vernie McGaha of Russell Springs opted not to run for a fifth term in 2012.

As a result, five Republicans filed their candidacy papers on Friday from that area of the state. They include some big political names:

  • - Chris Girdler of Somerset, who is the deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers
  • - Hilda Legg of Somerset, a consultant and former administrator at the U.S. Rural Utilities Service who narrowly lost the 2011 GOP primary for Secretary of State.
  • - A.C. Donahue, a Somerset lawyer and former Green Beret who has been an advocate for homeschooling
  • - Todd Hoskins, an insurance agent from Liberty
  • - Mark F. Polston, a Somerset lawyer

19th Senate District in Louisville

Other examples include the 19th District in Louisville, which is being vacated by Democratic Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, who is not seeking re-election.

The proposed new Senate map would have cut out Democratic-leaning precincts in the Highlands area of Louisville and spread the 19th District northeast to make it more favorable for Republicans.

GOP State Rep. Julie Raque Adams had filed for that new district but withdrew on Friday to run again for her old 32nd state House seat.

That wouldn’t leave any Republicans in the 19th District race but it would create a five-way Democratic primary.

Louisville lawyer Morgan McGarvey, a former special assistant to Attorney General Jack Conway filed on Friday.

So did Sara Lynn Cunningham, an environmental activist and former employee of the Metropolitan Sewer District who sued the city of Louisville in 2004 to argue that the city violated the Clean Air Act by discontinuing its emissions test in 2003.

The other three Democrats are Amy Shoemaker, a lawyer; Duran Hall, president of Maverick Insurance; and Gary Demling, an assistant golf pro.

37th Senate District

Also in Louisville, Democratic Sen. Perry Clark re-filed for the 37th District that he has represented since 2006.

Under the newly-drawn map, Clark would have been placed in the 35th District with his fellow Democrat, Sen. Denise Harper Angel.

But, under the old map, he re-filed on Tuesday to join three other Democrats — Steve Bittenbender, Robert D. Walker II and Dan Johnson.

Three Republicans are vying for the seat, including longtime councilman Doug Hawkins, former University of Louisville football player and developer Chris Thieneman and John Yuen.

27th Senate District

Another Democratic Senator who thought he had been drawn out of a job was Sen. Walter Blevins of Morehead.

That district had included Boyd, Elliott, Fleming, Lawrence and Rowan counties, but the new map blew that up into four different districts and placed his home county of Rowan into the 25th District currently represented by Republican Floor Leader Robert Stivers of Manchester.

Blevins told Pure Politics on Jan. 31 that he decided to retire to spend more time with his new wife and look for new opportunities. At the same time, he endorsed Ralph Hoskins, a longtime Clay County educator to run against Stivers.

But, with the old map back in play, Blevins filed Tuesday for his old seat.

Also filing for the old 27th District on Friday was Republican Tony Downey.

*The unopposed *

Filing deadline Part 2 left only four senators with a clear path to re-election.

Republican Sens. Tom Jensen of London (21st District), Carroll Gibson of Leitchfield (5th District) and Democratic Sens. Gerald Neal of Louisville (33rd District) and Johnny Ray Turner of Prestonsburg (29th District) have no opposition.

Here is the new House map that Judge Shepherd also threw out, largely because the 24th House District covering Larue, Marion and Washington counties had too many people:

Clarification: A previous version of the post didn’t make it clear that Sara Lynn Cunningham is a former employee of MSD.


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