The race is on to fill the two jobs left open by Rollins' resignation

04/24/2013 11:47 AM

UPDATED (3:37 p.m.): Central Kentucky Democrats and Republicans are in full candidate recruitment mode Wednesday as they seek to find the replacement to Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, in a June 25 special election.

Rollins resigned late Tuesday as he prepared to take the top job at the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, leaving open the 56th District that covers Woodford County and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced shortly before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday that the special election to fill the vacant 56th District would be Tuesday, June 25.

Rollins said he understood that James Kay, the chairman of the Woodford Democratic Party who served as a legislative aide in 2013, has expressed interest in seeking the open 56th House seat.

Kay told Pure Politics Wednesday afternoon that he was receiving unsolicited encouragement to seek the job.

“I’ve been encouraged by several people and elected officials in Woodford County. I’m definitely considering it. I’m definitely interested,” Kay said.

Kay said he hasn’t heard from other Democrats interested in running in the special election. As the party chairman of the county with the largest number of Democratic votes in the district, Kay can set the date for the meeting to choose the party’s nominee.

Meanwhile, Carol Rogers, who chairs the Fayette County Republican party, said she and the other county party chairs have been in touch with several potential candidates.

“There’s several people thinking about it. And I know we’ll have a great candidate,” Rogers said.

Rogers said the Republican Party committee from the 56th District will soon set a meeting to vote on the GOP nominee.

Rogers said the nominee is most likely to come from Woodford County, considering it makes up most of the district. In addition, the House must redraw the districts with the 2010 Census figures before the 2014 Election. And the map the House put out earlier this year, significantly shifted the 56th District precincts in western Fayette County and instead added precincts from southern Scott County.

Doug Jones, the 2012 Republican nominee who lost to Rollins, came from the western part of Fayette County.

Meanwhile, House leaders will have to replace Rollins as education committee chairman — a post he has held since 2009.

Rollins said he expected his successor to be either Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort and a retired public school teacher, or Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville, who is a former school board member.

“Both of them would be great selections,” Rollins said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in a statement that he and the other members of leadership will be accepting letters from those members who are interested in the chairmanship. Stumbo also praised Rollins for his leadership.

“He leaves behind a long list of accomplishments that have made a true difference in the lives of our students, and I wish him well as he takes on this new endeavor,” Stumbo said.

One major initiative Rollins leaves unfinished is a study of how Kentucky’s public universities budget for scholarships and tuition reductions in order to keep down the actual cost of college for students.

Rollins had called for a task force to study that, but the 2013 General Assembly didn’t approve any new task forces for the rest of the year.

Rollins said he expected Senate Education Committee Chairman Mike Wilson to keep that issue alive during education committee meetings in the coming months.


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