Two incumbent state lawmakers fall in primaries

05/19/2010 01:09 AM

Any anti-incumbent feelings voters may have had on Tuesday didn’t apply to many state legislative races.

Of the 21 sitting state lawmakers who drew intra-party challenges, only two —  a pair of veteran members of the House of Representatives — lost.

Rep. Charlie Siler, R-Corbin

Rep. Charlie Siler, R-Corbin, narrowly lost his seat to Dewayne Bunch, a science teacher, by 123 votes — less than two percentage points in the 82nd House district.

Bunch is now the representative-elect because no Democrat filed to run for that seat.

The third time was the charm for Bunch, who came in second to Siler out of four candidates in 2006, then lost to him by 11 percentage points in 2008.

Siler, 80, was one of the more moderate House Republicans. He supported unions, being from a big railroad area of Corbin, and occasionally crossed party lines on key votes. He also was known as a statesman. He wouldn’t make many speeches on the House floor, but when he did, his colleagues listened.

Siler served in the House from 1985 to 1990 and was among those incumbents voted out of office for supporting the Kentucky Education Reform Act and the approval of the state lottery to help pay for it. He won the 82nd District seat back in the 1994 election and served eight more two-year terms.

Also losing his seat Tuesday was Democratic state Rep. Ancel “Hard Rock” Smith of Leburn, who was a perennial

Rep. Ancel Smith, D-Leburn

target of other Democrats in the 92nd District, which covers Knott, Letcher and Magoffin counties.

John W. Short of Hindman defeated Smith, 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent, according to the unofficial results.

Smith served four quiet terms. He made the most noise in 2008 when it came out that he had tagged coal severance tax money for a flag pole in the district.

Short now goes on to face Republican candidate Ruby Edward Couch of Mallie in the fall race.

Elsewhere, the other 13 incumbent House members who had primary races rolled to victory.

In the state Senate, all five Republicans and the one Democrat, Sen. R.J. Palmer of Winchester, cruised to primary wins.

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, had the closest race of any incumbent, but turned away a challenge from Chad Crouch, 53-47.

The primary races to decide the nominee in the 34th Senate district to replace retiring Sen. Ed Worley, D-Richmond, were both barn-burners.

Jared K. Carpenter won the Republican nomination over Kent J. Kessler by 241 votes, unofficially, while former state Sen. Barry Metcalf finished a distant third.

And in the Democratic primary, Lee Murphy of Richmond edged Landra Lewis of Berea and Michael S. Cope in a tight three-way contest.

- Ryan Alessi

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