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Republican wins election for E. Ky. House seat

FRANKFORT — A former Carter County magistrate and businesswoman will become the first Republican in a decade to represent the 96th House District in Eastern Kentucky.

Jill York beat Democrat Barry Webb in a special election Tuesday for the seat vacated by former state Rep. Robin Webb, a Democrat who won a special election for a state Senate seat in August. Robin Webb was first elected to the House in 1999.

York defeated Barry Webb, a Grayson repairman and welder for AK Steel in Ashland, by 882 votes. Voter turnout in Carter and Lewis counties was slightly better than expected — 16 percent in Carter and 13 percent in Lewis.

York took both counties. She had 2,545 votes compared to 1,663 for Webb, according to unofficial results.

Although significant in the 96th District, York's win will not change the political power structure of the House, where Democrats still hold a substantial 64-36 advantage over Republicans.

York said Tuesday that rectifying the state's potential $161 million shortfall in the current fiscal year will be a top concern when she goes to Frankfort in January.

"We're very pleased with our results," York said. "Obviously, the preliminary issue that we will be looking at is making up the revenue for the shortfall. But the number one issue here is jobs."

The House seat has been vacant since August, when Robin Webb won the state Senate seat vacated by Republican Charlie Borders. Borders was appointed to the Public Service Commission by Gov. Steve Beshear.