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Lineup of candidates for fall is taking shape

FRANKFORT — Republicans selected candidates Monday night for two state legislative seats, while Jim Cauley, former chief of staff for Gov. Steve Beshear, prepares to help Senate Democratic candidates in the fall races.

GOP leaders from Kentucky's 13th Senate District in Fayette County selected Chuck Ellinger II, an at-large member of Lexington's Urban County Council, to be their party's nominee for the seat currently held by Democrat Ernesto Scorsone.

”He's the best candidate we could get,“ said state Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson. ”Chuck is well-known and has provided great service to Lexington.“

Andy Barr, vice chairman of the Fayette County Republican Party, said Ellinger is ”a sensible, mainstream choice who will help unify the Fayette County delegation.“

Ellinger is in his second four-year term as a council member. An attorney, he graduated from the University of Kentucky law school. He has an undergraduate degree from Rollins College and is continuing studies toward a master's degree in public administration at UK's Martin School.

Ellinger will face Democrat Kathy Stein in the Nov. 4 general election for the state Senate seat.

Scorsone recently withdrew his name from the 2008 general election ballot, on which he was running unopposed for re-election to the Senate. He later filed to run for a Fayette Circuit judgeship.

Stein, a Lexington attorney, has been a member of the state House since 1996, when she succeeded Scorsone as representative of the 75th Legislative District. Democratic Party officials recently chose her as their nominee.

The two political parties will have to find candidates for the House seat now occupied by Stein.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Western Kentucky on Monday night chose Shawn McPherson of Allen County as their candidate in the 22nd House District.

McPherson, owner of McPherson Appraisal Service, will face Democrat Wilson Stone, an Allen County farmer, in the November race.

That House seat opened up this summer when House Majority Whip Rob Wilkey, D-Scottsville, said he would not seek re-election. He had been running unopposed.

GOP leader Robertson said McPherson might have run for local office years ago in Monroe County. He also said he understands that McPherson and Stone attend the same church.

Senate Democratic candidates this fall will get help from former Beshear aide Cauley, said Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley, D-Richmond.

Cauley recently left as Beshear's chief of staff. He managed Beshear's campaign for governor last year and helped Barack Obama win a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois. He was not immediately available for comment Monday night.

Worley said Cauley will ”play a role“ with all the Senate Democratic races and with other efforts by the state Democratic Party.

It had not been determined whether the Senate Democratic Caucus or the state Democratic Party will pay Cauley's salary, Worley said.