With a decisive victory in the 14th Senate District special election Tuesday, Republican Jimmy Higdon not only kept the seat in GOP hands, but also dealt a crushing blow to expanded gambling proponents, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Democrat Jodie Haydon. It wasn't close, as Higdon garnered 56% of the 20,208 votes cast in parts of Marion, Nelson, Mercer, Taylor and Washington Counties.
Jimmy Higdon (R): 11,327
Jodie Haydon (D): 8,881
Higdon's win means Republicans still enjoy a 20-17 majority in the Senate, with one independent Senator caucusing with Republicans. Democrats had won two other special elections in the state senate this year, to narrow the GOP majority. With Senate Republicans blocking legislation that would allow Video Lottery Terminals (VLT's) at Kentucky racetracks, gambling proponents and the equine industry invested heavily in the prospect of nearly evening the balance of power.
With a combined $1 million estimated to have been spent by both candidates and outside interests, the special election is considered the most expensive state senate race in Kentucky history. With 20,208 total votes cast, that's about $49 per vote.
"I think it was absolutely great," said Senator Dan Seum (R-fairdale), "It says the gambling entity could not buy this election." As Majority Caucus Chair, Seum is Jefferson County's highest ranking Republican in Frankfort.
"I do think the GOP Senate scored a big one today. It bodes well for conservatives on the national level," Seum continued, suggesting that Democrats had already hit their high water mark ahead of the mid term elections of the Barack Obama Presidency in 2010.
Higdon won the seat vacated by former GOP floor leader Dan Kelly, who resigned to accept a circuit judge appointment by Governor Steve Beshear. It was the second time that Beshear had created a vacancy in a GOP Senate seat. Earlier this year, after Beshear appointed Senator Charlie Borders to the Public Service Commission, Democrat Robin Webb won the special election to fill the remainder of Borders' term.
In a special election Tuesday to fill the remainder of Webb's House term, Republican Jill York trounced Democrat Barry Web with 60% of the vote in Carter and Lewis Counties.
Jill York (R): 2,545
Barry Web (D): 1,663
"Conservative values won tonight," Seum commented, adding the margin of victory bodes well for Dr. Jack Ditty, the Republican who narrowly lost to Webb in the special election and who plans on mounting a rematch in 2010.