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Webb nearly doubled Ditty's fund-raising

FRANKFORT — Democrat Robin Webb raised $402,435 in her successful campaign last month for the state Senate, nearly doubling the amount raked in by Republican challenger Jack Ditty.

Webb, a Grayson attorney and a former state representative, ended the special election with $53,040 on hand, according to financial reports filed Tuesday with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Ditty, a Russell dermatologist, reported taking in $211,179 for his campaign and ending with $2,350.

Webb won the Aug. 25 special election for the 18th Senate District — Bracken, Robertson, Mason, Carter, Greenup and Lewis counties — by fewer than 300 votes. The race garnered statewide attention as Democrats chipped away at Republican control of the state Senate in an effort to eventually win approval for placing slot machines at horse racetracks.

Republicans now hold a 20-17 margin in the Senate, with one independent member.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear called the special election on the same day that Republican incumbent Charlie Borders resigned in July to take a gubernatorial appointment to the state Public Service Commission.

Beshear has not yet called a special election to fill the vacancy in the 96th House District caused by Webb's victory to the Senate. The House district includes Carter and Lewis counties.

Asked Tuesday why the governor has not yet called an election, Beshear spokesman Jay Blanton said, "We've been consumed with a number of issues. Hope to call it in the near future."

In June, Webb joined a majority in the state House to back a bill that would allow video lottery terminals at tracks. The measure later died in the Senate budget committee, which Borders had chaired. Ditty opposed expanded gambling.

The Kentucky Equine Education Project, which represents the state's horse industry and is pushing for slot machines at tracks, gave $1,000 to Webb's campaign. So did Churchill Downs President Robert L. Evans and his wife, Tracie Evans; Churchill Downs CEO William E. Mudd of Louisville; and Blood-Horse Publications editor-in-chief Dan Liebman of Frankfort.

An independent issues committee made up of horse industry leaders known as Keep Our Jobs in Kentucky Inc. ran radio and TV ads during the race critical of Ditty's business practices.

Patrick Neely, who took a leave of absence as executive director of KEEP to work with Keep Our Jobs in Kentucky, declined Tuesday to say how much the group spent in the race.

"We will file our necessary papers next year to report that," he said.

Neely also said the group will stay in existence "for the foreseeable future."

Various Democratic committees, including the state Democratic Party, contributed $106,500 to Webb. Ditty reported $40,000 from the state Republican Executive Committee, $68,000 from the Republican Senate Caucus Campaign Committee and $1,000 from former Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher of Frankfort.

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