Republican Suzanne Miles wins House seat from Democrats in another 7th District squeaker

12/10/2013 07:52 PM

Republican Suzanne Miles appears to have won the 7th state House District by 112 votes — a landslide compared to the five-vote victory last year by the man Miles will replace, former Rep. John Arnold.

Miles, according to unofficial results, received 3,548 votes compared to 3,436 for Democrat Kim Humphrey of Morganfield on Tuesday. Miles got a huge boost in her home county of Daviess, where she and her family, including her father Billy Joe Miles, are well known. She defeated Humphrey 2,564 to 976 in Daviess County.

Here are the unofficial splits:
……………….. Miles( R) …………….. Humphrey (D)
Daviess …….. 2,564 ………………….. 976
Henderson …… 304 …………………… 377
Union …………. 680 …………………..2,083

A district representative in Owensboro for Republican U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, Miles will replace Arnold, the Sturgis Democrat who resigned in September amid allegations that he sexually harassed legislative staffers. Arnold won his re-election race in 2012 by just five votes over Republican Tim Kline buoyed by strong turnout in Union County.

But since then the district has been redrawn and more precincts were added in Daviess County where Miles ran up the score.

Miles’ win would move Republicans one seat closer to taking over the House with 54 Democrats compared to 46 Republicans — the largest number the GOP has had since 1921. House Republicans erupted on Twitter with congratulatory tweets as the final precinct numbers were tallied.

“Congratulations to the newest member of the Kentucky House and the Republican caucus, Suzanne Miles! 46. Modern day record. #flipthehouse,” House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover tweeted out at 8:45 p.m. EST.

While Arnold’s problems didn’t end up being a major factor in the special election race, geographic rivalry was. The district covers all of Union County, southern Henderson and southern Daviess counties.

Humphrey tried to rally Union County voters, urging them to keep a Union County native in the seat, as Pure Politics reported in October at the start of the race.

But after redistricting, Union County residents make up only 37 percent of the voters in the district. And in the end, Miles was able drum up enough support in the other precincts.

Party figures from both sides were more involved in this race than the state Senate special election in Lexington with Guthrie campaigning with Miles and Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer helping as well. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear spent a day campaigning with Humphrey last week.

Miles had to fendoff radio ad attacks by the Democratic super PAC Kentucky Family Values, which claimed Miles’ family received millions of dollars in earmarks. Republicans repeatedly challenged the group to back up the claims.

Humphrey, a lifelong resident of Union County, worked as a banker before becoming the county’s economic development director. She was the voice for the county during a 2010 ice storm, delivering regular updates over the radio. She now works for Alliance Coal, which has a major operation in the county.

On paper, the 7th District looks like a solidly Democratic district with 19,473 registered Democrats to 6,189 Republicans and 1,503 others. But that area, like many districts in western Kentucky, has been trending toward the Republicans in general elections.

_— Political Producer Jacqueline Pitts contributed to this report. _


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