Republican state Sen. Jack Westwood won't seek re-election in 2012

08/31/2011 01:41 PM

UPDATED: State Sen. Jack Westwood, a Republican from Crescent Springs, confirmed to Pure Politics that he won’t seek a fifth term in the state Senate in 2012, opening up a key seat in Northern Kentucky.

When he ends his term next year, Westwood will have served 16 years in the 23rd Senate District that covers much of Kenton County.

“Sixteen years seems to be me to be long enough,” Westwood said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I don’t have any specific reasons not to (run again). A lot of people object to having career politicians. It was never my intention to be there for 16 years.”

Westwood, a former teacher, has pushed in recent years to make a more direct pathway for students to enter technical and community colleges.

He said he will continue to make that a focus in the 2012 General Assembly.

In all, he said he has noticed during his time in the Senate that lawmakers have increasingly made decisions based on how it would help their parties, “not necessarily what’s best for the state.”

“That’s one of the things I’m disenchanted with,” he said.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, a Republican from Georgetown who represents the district that covers the other part of Kenton County, said he considered Westwood “a mentor” and “a great legislator.”

“His demeanor and his personality is respected by both sides of the aisle,” Thayer said.

The 23rd Senate District currently includes three state representatives, who could be potential candidates to replace Westwood.

Republican Reps. Alecia Webb-Edgington of Fort Wright and Adam Koenig of Erlanger live in the district as does Democratic Rep. Arnold Simpson of Covington.

Both Webb-Edgington and Koenig indicated interest in the race but hinted that they wouldn’t run against each other in a Republican primary.

“I’m not going to close the door to anything at this juncture,” Webb-Edgington said. “But we’re not looking to have any bloody primaries among Republicans.”

Koenig said the Senate seat “is something I’m going to look at.”

“But I’m pretty darn happy in the House. I’d like to be part of the first group of Republican majority in the House since 1920,” he said.

Thayer said he has spoken to both Webb-Edgington and Koenig.

“I was glad they told me they would not run against each other,” he said.

Thayer also chairs the Senate’s state government committee that will lead the redrawing of the legislative districts.

He said the 23rd District is likely to pick up the Kenton County precincts from the neighboring 11th District because it has enough people in Boone County to be its own district.

The southern part of Kenton County includes one other state representative — Republican Rep. Thomas Kerr of Taylor Mill.

Thayer said it’s unlikely Taylor Mill will be moved into the 23rd District because that part of Kenton County is in his district — the 17th.

“Rep. Kerr hasn’t spoken to me about being interested” in being in the 23rd District, Thayer said. “I don’t want to give up any of my Taylor Mill precincts. And I’m really not very interested in splitting the city into two Senate districts.”

Simpson, the Democratic representative from Covington, said he won’t run for the 23rd District because it will favor Republicans no matter how it is redrawn during the redistricting process.

“In each of the Senate districts in Northern Kentucky — the trends are quite clearly favoring Republicans,” he said.

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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