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Dems Take 3 of 4 Special Election Seats in KY; Awful Labor, Education Bills Likely Dead

Visual representation of KY Gov. Matt Bevin's education and labor platform

Visual representation of KY Gov. Matt Bevin’s education and labor platform

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It’s election week in Kentucky, and labor has something to celebrate. Democrats picked up three of the four seats that were up for grabs in a series of special elections, solidifying the statehouse balance of power for 2016. 

What will this mean for workers? Importantly, the sweeping changes promised by new conservative Governor Matt Bevin will be next-to-impossible to achieve. Democrats now hold 53 of 100 House seats and can control the shape of the budget while potentially eliminating a series of severe spending cuts aimed at education.


Democrats won elections in Western Kentucky’s 8th District (Jeffrey R. Taylor of Hopkinsville), Central Kentucky’s 62nd District (Chuck Tackett of Georgetown) and northeastern Kentucky’s 98th District (Lew Nicholls of Greenup). The sole Republican won race in Central Kentucky’s 54th District (Daniel B. Elliott of Danville).

Two of the House seats were held previously by Republicans who won election to statewide office in November. The two others were held by Democrats who resigned to accept state posts from Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican.

Speaking to reporters, Democratic party chairwoman Sannie Overly called the results “a repudiation of Gov. Bevin’s efforts to dismantle public education and health care”:

“Trying to dismantle Kynect, which has helped more than half a million Kentuckians obtain health insurance, is a perfect example of the bad decisions Bevin is making that will hurt the people of the commonwealth.  These Democrats won because they are all good leaders — and they will serve Kentucky well. Tonight is not just a victory for them, but it is a victory for every Kentuckian.”

A Republican-controlled house would have likely passed “Right-to-Work” legislation and delivered on another Bevin campaign promise.  With Kentucky viewed as the testing ground for contentious local “Right-to-Work” laws, that right-wing joyride has hit a speed bump.

In one sense, however, the results are not a surprise. Democrats have controlled the House since 1921 despite the state’s reputation as being lumped in with Southern politics. Next year, all 100 House seats go up for reelection. 


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