State Sen. Chris Girdler, hoping to give others a jump start in the race, announces he will not run for re-election in 2016

06/11/2015 05:41 PM

State Sen. Chris Girdler will not seek re-election to his south-central Kentucky district next year, the Somerset Republican announced Thursday.

Girdler’s decision came with his second daughter due in a matter of weeks.

“I suggested many times on the campaign trail in 2012 that I did not plan on serving in the Kentucky Senate a lengthy amount of time,” Girdler said in a lengthy statement. “I feel I made that abundantly clear when I opted out of the legislative retirement plan upon being sworn in to prove that I was not in the General Assembly for the perks and privileges, but there to do the people’s business, and that is exactly what I have done.

“… I can see myself one day stepping back out to run for an elected office, but in this current season of my life my focus is exactly where it needs to be: with my family, my Christian faith and my business endeavors.”

Girdler, whose district covers Pulaski, Lincoln and Boyle counties, said he publicized the decision now to give prospective candidates time to consider running.

He’s co-chairman of the Tourism Development Committee; chairman of the Senate Budget Review Subcommittee on Economic Development and Tourism, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection; and vice chairman of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee.

Girdler’s key legislative accomplishment thus far came in the 2014 session’s “Boater Freedom Act,” which requires law enforcement to have a reasonable suspicion of illicit activity before boarding or inspecting a boat.

He has unsuccessfully pushed other high-profile issues in his brief career in the General Assembly, such as longer waiting periods for suspects in domestic violence cases and creating additional statutory steps before local governments can begin selling commercial products or services.

He has said versions of both bills will reemerge in next year’s legislative session, which will be his last if he doesn’t later run for a seat in the legislature.

Girdler also created some political waves in this year’s gubernatorial primary by calling on Agriculture Commissioner James Comer to withdraw from the race after allegations of dating violence emerged from Comer’s former college girlfriend, Marilyn Thomas. Comer adamantly denied the accusations, which included claims that he escorted Thomas to an abortion clinic.

The former district director for U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers “made an immediate and significant impact upon being elected,” Senate President Robert Stivers said in a statement.

“He has been a valuable asset to our caucus from day one and he truly will be missed,” Stivers, R-Manchester, said in a statement. “That said, I fully understand the trials and tribulations of being a young man with a young family. I fully support his decision and wish him the best of luck with future endeavors.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer called Girdler “a strong advocate for his district and the principles of limited government.”

“As his friend, I respect his decision not to seek reelection in the best interests of his family,” Thayer, R-Georgetown, said in a statement. “As his colleague in the Senate, his passionate conviction and dedication to conservative principles will be missed.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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