FRANKFORT — Republican officials in northeastern Kentucky will meet Saturday to pick a nominee for a key Senate seat left vacant this week by Charlie Borders, R-Grayson.
The 18th Senate District seat, which Democrats hope to capture as part of a broader effort to wrest control of the Senate from Republicans, will be filled by the winner of an Aug. 25 special election.
Dr. Jack F. Ditty, a dermatologist from Russell in Greenup County, has been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for the seat that covers Bracken, Carter, Greenup, Lewis, Mason and Robertson counties.
Greenup County Republican Chair Margaret Barnhiser couldn't say whom the party will nominate but acknowledged that she has heard "great things" about Ditty. The GOP nominating committee will meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Lewis County Courthouse in Vanceburg.
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Democratic officials in the district are to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Greenup County Courthouse in Greenup to select their nominee.
State Rep. Robin Webb, a Grayson lawyer, has said she hopes to be the Democratic Party's nominee.
Party registration in the district favors Democrats, but Republicans have controlled it since 1991. The district has 45,536 Democrats, 26,919 Republicans and 3,985 other registered voters.
Ditty has not commented on his possible GOP bid, but Webb said Thursday she has heard that Ditty probably will be the Republican nominee.
She said Ditty was her family's dermatologist and was close to former Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher.
A Web site about Ditty said he is an Ashland native who came back to his hometown to open the first dermatology practice in northeastern Kentucky in 1981.
He has been in solo private practice and a staff member of Kings Daughters Medical Center and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. He is a 1971 graduate of the University of Kentucky and a graduate of the University of Louisville's medical school.
Ditty's daughter, Julie, is a nationally ranked professional tennis player who was a two-time All-American at Vanderbilt University.
The Senate seat became vacant Wednesday when Borders, the Senate's budget chairman, resigned to take a $117,000-a-year appointment by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to the state Public Service Commission.
Democrats are hopeful that the special election is a step toward regaining control of the Senate, which they lost in 2000, and approving slot machines at horse racetracks. A slots bill died last month in Borders' committee.
With Borders' departure, Republicans now hold a 20-16 majority in the Senate. There is one independent in the chamber.
Reach Jack Brammer in the Herald-Leader's Frankfort bureau at (502) 227-1198.