Politics & Government

Kentucky lawmaker loses primary, angrily quits GOP and backs Democratic nominee

Former State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan, R-Richmond
Former State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan, R-Richmond

State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan of Richmond, a controversial Kentucky lawmaker who lost to a challenger in the Republican primary on Tuesday, says he is quitting the GOP to throw his support behind the Democratic nominee for his seat in the Nov. 6 election.

In a Facebook post late Tuesday, after he was defeated by fellow Republican Deanna Frazier of Richmond, Morgan wrote, "Tonight the GOP lost a true conservative and patriot. I will no longer be associated with the Republican Party."

Referencing his fight with former Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, who resigned that post in January in a sexual harassment scandal, Morgan continued, "However, I will never cease to be a thorn in the side of every member of the Republican Party who claims to be a conservative and still supports people like Mitch McConnell, Jeff Hoover and Jonathan Shell. Until we weed out corrupt individuals such as this, we are truly doomed no matter what party is in power."

"With that being said, I will fully support and be voting for Morgan Eaves for District 81 State Representative in November. At least Democrats don’t pretend not to be corrupt," Morgan concluded.

Eaves, a Richmond attorney, on Wednesday called Morgan's sudden show of support "surprising."

"Well, I hope his endorsement is genuine," Eaves said. "I also hope people realize that his beliefs are the antithesis of my own. I certainly don't endorse anything that he has said or done."

Eaves said she does not plan to appear with Morgan at future campaign events.

Morgan, the owner of a small chain of liquor stores, made headlines during his single term in Frankfort for repeatedly filing bills that would benefit liquor store owners; filing bills to protect boat owners from losing physical possession of their boats to lien holders, a situation Morgan has found himself in; and filing bills that would allow protesters who block streets to be charged with a crime, while allowing motorists who run into them to be held criminally and civilly immune.

Morgan's bills generally were unsuccessful.

Last winter, Morgan led a faction of House Republicans calling for the expulsion of Hoover from the General Assembly after it was disclosed that Hoover secretly had settled a sexual harassment complaint with a woman who worked on the legislative staff.

While Morgan's expulsion resolution ultimately failed, he publicly shared information from inside the House Republican caucus that showed GOP lawmakers were split over Hoover's behavior and were not — despite the claims of House leadership — unified in support. Not long afterward, Hoover agreed to step down as speaker, although he kept his House seat.