Politics & Government

Republicans fight off challenges, retain overwhelming edge in state Senate

Republicans survived tough challenges in some races in Tuesday’s election to retain all their Kentucky Senate seats, unofficial totals showed.

In addition, Republic challenger Robert M. “Robby” Mills defeated Sen. Dorsey Ridley, the Democratic caucus chair, in the 4th District in Western Kentucky, pushing the GOP’s margin in the chamber to 28 to 9 with one open seat.

Democrat challengers in three Central Kentucky races — all educators — hoped to capitalize on lingering upset about changes to teacher pensions that Republican lawmakers approved, but fell short.

In Lexington’s 12th District, incumbent Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr eked out a razor-thin win over Paula Setser-Kissick, a resource teacher in the Fayette County schools.

Setser-Kissick was likely bouyed from support for Democratic 6th District Congressional candidate Amy McGrath in suburban Lexington, but Kerr has represented the district nearly 20 years and had a sizeable fundraising advantage.

In the 22nd District, incumbent Republican Tom Buford of Nicholasville had a comfortable lead over Democratic challenger Carolyn Dupont, who teaches at Eastern Kentucky University, to keep the seat he’s held since 1991.

The district is made up of Jessamine, Garrard, Mercer and Washington counties and part of Fayette.

In the 28th District, made up of Clark, Montgomery and part of Fayette counties, incumbent Republican Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a Winchester physician, held on to his seat after spending more than 10 times as much as challenger Denise Gray, who works with special-needs children in the Fayette schools.

Nineteen of the Senate’s 38 seats were at stake. Republicans have controlled the chamber since 2000.

The only Senate seat without opposition Tuesday was the 10th District in Hardin and part of Jefferson counties, where Democrat Dennis Parrett of Elizabethtown, co-owner of a farm business who has been in the Senate since 2011, won another term.

Republicans also held on to the only open seat in Tuesday’s vote. State Rep. Matt Castlen, R-Owensboro defeated Democrat Bob Glenn, an Owensboro city commissioner, for the seat vacated by Sen. Joe Bowen’s retirement.