Guide to 2012 State House Races: Some familiar names lining up for open seats

01/30/2012 08:20 AM

(UPDATED 8:50 a.m. TUESDAY) — The filing deadline might — or might not — get pushed back by the courts because of a challenge to the new district maps.

But regardless of when the candidate filing deadline will be, the 2012 races already are shaping up to be hotly contested with at least 15 open seats so far. A spate of retirements from both parties have opened up seats.

And four incumbent state representatives are stepping down to try to step up to the state Senate. Still other seats have been opened by the redrawing of the lines themselves, which pitted some incumbent House Republicans against each other.

The open seats have attracted some well-known names, including former and current mayors. Erwin Roberts, the former assistant U.S. Attorney and state Personnel Cabinet Secretary during Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s term, is running in eastern Louisville. He faces a primary against the GOP’s 2010 3rd congressional nominee Todd Lally.

And former GOP gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett is running for the newly-opened seat in northeastern Jefferson County that’s being vacated by Rep. Julie Raque Adams, who announced she’s seeking the Republican nomination for the 19th state Senate seat.

Here’s a breakdown of the open seats so far in advance of the Jan. 31 filing deadline:

OPEN SEATS
2nd District (Graves and southern McCracken) — Vacated by Democratic Rep. Fred Nesler, who chose not to seek an 11th term.
Democratic Candidates: Arthur Byrn, mayor of Mayfield and former KLC officer; Kelly Whitaker, a pharmacist from Hickory.
Republican Candidates: Richard Heath, owner of Heath Building Materials and Heath Farms; and Patrick Fischer.

3rd District (Northern McCracken) — Vacated by Republican Rep. Brent Housman, who chose not to seek a 3rd term.
Democratic Candidates: Gerald Watkins, Paducah city commissioner

*4th District *(Livingston, Crittenden and Caldwell) — Vacated by Democratic Rep. Mike Cherry, who chose not to seek an 8th term.
Democratic Candidates: Raymond W. Giannini, manager of the Caldwell Health Dept.
Republican Candidates: Lynn Bechler, retiree from Marion who lost to Cherry in 2010

*5th District *(Calloway and part of Trigg) — Vacated by Democratic Rep. Melvin Henley, who chose not to seek a fifth term.
Democratic Candidates: Hal Kemp, a Dairy Queen owner from Murray who ran unsuccessfully against Henley in 2006 when Henley was a Republican
Republican Candidates: Kenneth C. Imes, who served in the legislature between 1972 and 1978 but ran unsuccessfully for Calloway County judge-executive in 2006.

10th District (Eastern Jefferson) — Newly created in redistricting when old 10th in Hopkins County was eliminated.
Democratic Candidates: Teena Halbig, a Democratic activist and owner of Teena’s Dolls who ran three times between 1998 and 2002 for the state legislature, and Mark Suna, CEO of the Boss Group, a business brokerage firm
Republican Candidates: Erwin Roberts, Louisville lawyer and former assistant U.S. attorney and former state Personnel Cabinet secretary for Gov. Ernie Fletcher.
Also, former congressional candidate Todd Lally, a pilot, filed his paperwork Monday. Lally won the 2010 GOP primary for Congress but lost to Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth.

*16th District *(Logan, Todd and part of Warren) — Vacated by Democratic Rep. Martha Jane King, who is running for state Senate
Democratic Candidates: Tom Noe, a former Logan County attorney
Republican Candidates: Josephine “Jo” Orange, a three-term Logan County magistrate, and Kent Wilson, a machine shop employee from Olmstead

21st District (Eastern Warren County) — Opened when new district lines shifted Republican Rep. Jim DeCesare out of the 21st. He is now running for state Senate.
Democratic Candidates: Michael Clay, a former candidate for Warren County magistrate
Republican Candidates: Regina A. Webb, owner of Regina Webb Salon and Day Spa who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for state Senate in 2010.

*26th District *(Northern Hardin County and most of Bullitt) — Opened when district lines around Hardin County were shifted and Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, was moved into the newly-drawn 19th District.
Democratic Candidates: David Lee Strange of Shepherdsville, a retired General Electric Co. employee and executive director of the Bullitt County History Museum. He ran unsuccessfully for Bullitt County judge-executive in 2010.
Republican Candidates: Gary W. Hatcher, mayor of Pioneer Village in Bullitt County, and David Glauber, who lives in northeastern Bullitt County but has a Taylorsville post office address.

32nd District (Northeastern Jefferson County) — Vacated by Republican Rep. Julie Raque Adams, who has announced she is running for the open 19th state Senate district.
Democratic Candidates: none yet
Republican Candidates: Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett, who is currently CEO of the free-market think-tank the Bluegrass Institute, and Shawn Slone, who filed to run for the state Senate in 2010.

50th District (Nelson County) — Vacated by Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, who is running for the new 15th state Senate District.
Democratic Candidates: Dick Heaton, an auto dealer and former mayor of Bardstown
Republican Candidates: Donna Pegago, owner of Kountry Kennel and Pet Supply in Cox’s Creek.

53rd District (Hart, Green, Metcalfe and part of southern Hardin counties) — Newly created by shifting the lines and the 53rd District had formerly been held by James Comer, who was elected agriculture commissioner in 2011.
Democratic Candidates: Former state Rep. Dottie Sims of Horse Cave, and Larry R. Jewell of Horse Cave
Republican Candidates: Steve Caven of Munfordville, Freddy Harbison of Edmonton and Richard Treitz of Greensburg

55th District (Anderson, Spencer and northern Mercer counties) — Created when the new district lines shifted Republican Rep. Kim King of Harrodsburg into the 54th District held by Rep. Mike Harmon.
Democratic Candidates: Kent Stevens, who served two terms as a Democratic state representative before losing in 2010 to King.
Republican Candidates: Dean Lickliter of Lawrenceburg

63rd District (Northern Kenton County) — Vacated by Republican Rep. Alecia Webb Edgington of Fort Wright who is running for the Republican nomination for Congress.
Democratic Candidates: none yet
Republican Candidates: Steve Jaeger of Edgewood, Diane St. Onge, former Lakeside Park councilwoman and Walter Starosciak of Crestview Hills, and Stephen L. Knipper of Independence

80th District (Casey, Rockcastle and parts of Pulaski and Madison counties) — Vacated by Republican Rep. Danny Ford of Mount Vernon, who is retiring.
Democratic Candidates: none yet
Republican Candidates: Roger Coldiron of Mount Vernon and Mark Eaton of Mount Vernon and Todd Hoskins, an insurance agent from Liberty
(Mary Lou Rosetti of Hustonville filed on Jan. 17 but Lincoln County is no longer in the 80th District)

96th District (Southern Fayette County) — Newly created. The district number formerly was in northeastern Kentucky.
Democratic Candidates: Reginald Thomas, an attorney and associate professor at Kentucky State University and a longtime Democratic activist who served as a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention
Republican Candidates: none yet

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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