Turf battle rather than John Arnold's shadow could play biggest role in special election

10/22/2013 12:23 PM

OWENSBORO — If Kentuckians thought this summer’s special House race in Central Kentucky was expensive and contentious, this fall’s special election in an Owensboro-area House seat has all the makings for even more drama.

It’s the race to replace former Democratic Rep. John Arnold, who resigned in September amid allegations that he sexually harassed legislative staffers.

It marks the first House race run under new district lines that the General Assembly passed in August. This particular district also features some natural geographic rivalry with Union County being the traditional home of sitting representatives but the Daviess County portion of the district gaining more voters. Henderson County also has seven precincts.

It’s in a highly-competitive region of western Kentucky. In fact, Arnold — who had been in the General Assembly since 1995 — only won re-election last year by five votes. And it comes at a time when Democrats hold a 54-45 seat advantage in the House, which is down from a 60-40 split several years ago.

Plus this race, along with a special election for an open state Senate seat in Lexington, will give the Kentucky Republican and Democratic parties a chance to tune up their get-out-the-vote efforts in advance of the 2014 election, which features the nation’s biggest Senate race with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election bid.

With all that as a backdrop, two women will face off in the Dec. 10 special election. Democratic candidate Kim Humphrey is a former banker and Union County economic development official who now works for Alliance Coal’s operation in Union County. And Suzanne Miles of Daviess County is a former dress shop owner who now works as constituent services representative for Republican Congressman Brett Guthrie.

And like many western Kentuckians, both candidates offer interesting blends of political loyalties. One switched parties less than five years ago, the other donated to a Republican presidential candidate and a Democratic governor.

Here’s a first look at the candidates, whose first task is addressing the shadow of Arnold, who resigned in disgrace after legislative staffers accused him of inappropriately touching them and making inappropriate comments to them.


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