Politics & Government

Woman files to run for Dan Johnson’s House seat hours after his suicide

In this Dec. 12, 2017, file photo, Kentucky State Rep., Republican Dan Johnson addresses the public from his church regarding sexual assault allegations in Louisville, Ky. Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell says Johnson committed suicide on Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Mount Washington, Ky.
In this Dec. 12, 2017, file photo, Kentucky State Rep., Republican Dan Johnson addresses the public from his church regarding sexual assault allegations in Louisville, Ky. Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell says Johnson committed suicide on Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Mount Washington, Ky. AP

Hours after state Rep. Dan Johnson committed suicide Wednesday night, a Republican filed Thursday morning to run for his seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2018.

Jennifer Baird Faith, of Shepherdsville, went to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ office in the Kentucky Capitol Thursday morning and filed to run for the 49th House District seat.

When asked about the timing of her action, Faith said she had already set up a substitute teacher for her eighth grade history class.

“That was very tragic and unfortunate,” Faith said of Johnson’s death. “I do not plan on campaigning or advertising in the next couple of days.”

Faith posted on Facebook earlier this week that she intended to challenge Johnson in the Republican primary and went to the Bullitt County Clerk’s office to file on Tuesday before learning that she had to file in Frankfort.

Faith said she hesitated before filing Thursday because of Johnson’s death, and noted that she had filled out her paperwork in November.

“It’s just unfortunate timing of how things turned out,” Faith said.

Johnson, R-Mt. Washington, was pronounced dead Wednesday night after being found with a single bullet wound to the head on Greenwell Ford Road in Mount Washington, said Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings. An autopsy confirmed that Johnson shot himself, Billings said.

On Monday, the Republican Party of Kentucky and leaders of the House Republican Caucus called for Johnson to resign after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published a lengthy article that said Johnson allegedly forcibly kissed, groped and used his finger to penetrate a 17-year-old girl, despite her asking him to stop, on New Year’s Eve 2012.

KyCIR also reported that Johnson had been indicted for an attempted arson in 1985 and called into question several aspects of his life story, including his claim that he set up a morgue in New York City in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

Johnson denied the allegations in a press conference Tuesday at the Heart of Fire Church in Louisville, where he was pastor.

A special election will be called by Gov. Matt Bevin or House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne, R-Prospect, to replace Johnson. The filing deadline for the 2018 general election is January 30th.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics

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