Nov. 10, 2016
With the numbers finalized, the Republican Party has taken control of the last Democrat- controlled legislative body in the South: the Kentucky House of Representatives.
For the first time in almost 100 years, Republicans have taken not only the majority, but the supermajority with at least 62 of 100 seats.
“The voters of Kentucky have been heard and they want a new direction for the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Gov. Matt Bevin said at the Republican celebration in downtown Louisville Tuesday night.
In addition to taking the supermajority, each committee in the Kentucky House of Representatives will now be led by Republican chairmen and women, state Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray, said.
Among the Democratic losses, Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, fell to Republican Larry Brown with only 47 percent of the vote after serving the 95th District for 32 years.
“The voters have spoken, so I want to congratulate Larry Brown for his win tonight, and I want to thank the people of the 95th House District for a great career,” Stumbo said in a statement after the results became final. “I hope only the best for the district, my county, my commonwealth and my country.”
In western Kentucky, the incumbent Imes took victory with 68.5 percent over Democrat challenger David Ramey.
“We’re going into uncharted territory here,” Imes said.
Imes said he looks forward to the next two years with the supermajority, which “will be one of the most exciting sessions.”
The biggest change the Republican majority will bring to Kentucky lies in some of the issues that will be given a better chance in the General Assembly, including pro-life values, transparency and restructuring the pension system, he said.
Despite the loss, Ramey, a Murray State alumnus and chairman of the Calloway County Democratic Party, said the country as a whole does better economically when Democrats are in charge.
“The Democratic Party is still the best hope for working men and women,” he said.
The biggest problem is getting voters to recognize that and the party has not been successful in that regard, Ramey said.
“People in western Kentucky elected Democrats for generations; we just have to remind them why they did that in the first place,” he said.
While western Kentucky was once the Democratic Rock of Gibraltar, the region has been shifting to Republican for several years.
According to the Kentucky Board of Elections, 55 percent of registered voters in the 1st Congressional District are registered Democrats, but that number has been decreasing every year.
“The overall Democratic principles from the party and from [President Barack Obama] have been seen by Kentucky as negative,” said Greg DeLancey, chairman of the Republican Party of Calloway County. “The Democratic Party has gone so liberal that [western Kentucky Democrats] can’t associate themselves with it anymore.”
In their statewide sweep, Republicans also found victory in U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Lexington; U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville; and First District state Sen. Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz, in western Kentucky.