Sen. Julie Denton leaves legacy of efficiency and passion for issues

04/17/2014 10:37 AM

After 20-years in the legislature Sen. Julie Denton, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, has prescribed herself a dose of get-out-of-Frankfort.

Denton is looking to move from statewide politics to Louisville Metro Council where she says she can have a more pronounced effect on policy.

It was the addition of a state House district in the 2013 special session redistricting process that opened up the door for Denton to leave the legislature. Incumbent Republican Metro Councilman Jerry Miller, asked for Denton’s support in his run for a newly-created House district last summer. The game of musical Republican chairs went from there.

Denton will run for Miller’s 19th Metro Council seat, while Rep. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, is running for Denton’s Senate seat against Democrat Siddique Malik.

Since becoming Senate health and welfare committee chair more than a decade ago, Denton had worked with leaders of the state’s health cabinet. Sometimes that was rocky. She often clashed with Gov. Steve Beshear’s first Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary, Janie Miller, over the oversight of social workers and Medicaid. And Denton was among the first to raise concerns about how Beshear’s administration handled the implementation of managed care starting in 2011, although she has had a better working relationship with the current secretary, Audrey Haynes.

But Denton also proved to be a thorn in the side of some Republicans. In the summer of 2010, she announced she would challenge then-Republican Senate President David Williams for the top spot in the Senate but ultimately dropped out of the leadership race just before the vote when Williams bumped up the caucus meeting from mid-December to early November 2010.

A dental hygienist and realtor, Denton first won her Senate seat in 1994 to represent the 36th Senatorial District on Louisville’s east side.

And members of the legislature said they would remember her hard work, efficiency and tenacity.

Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, offered praise of Denton’s quick wit and hard-working style in the Senate.

“She couldn’t have the knowledge she has without having done a lot of homework on the issues,” Kerr said.

Here’s what Kerr said about Denton on Tuesday:

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.