Politics & Government

Third candidate files to run in Central Kentucky state House race

FRANKFORT — John-Mark Hack, a former aide to Gov. Paul Patton, filed Tuesday to run as an independent in the special House 56th District election on June 25.

Hack, who is in the food business, will face Republican Lyen Crews and Democrat James L. Kay II in the special election called by Gov. Steve Beshear to fill a vacancy left by Democrat Carl Rollins.

Rollins, of Midway, resigned to become chief executive of Kentucky's higher education loan agencies.

The district includes Woodford County and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties.

Tuesday was the filing deadline for independent candidates in the race. Hack had to submit the signatures of at least 100 registered voters in the district to file.

Crews, vice president of business and financial affairs at Midway College, was chosen by Republican leaders in the district, and Kay, an attorney, was chosen by Democratic leaders in the district. All three candidates are from Woodford County.

Hack, who established the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy in 1998 in the Patton administration, said he is not a spoiler in the race to benefit one of the major political parties over the other.

"I'm in it to win," he said after filing Tuesday, noting that leaders in both parties discouraged him from filing.

Crews and Kay were not immediately available for comment.

The race will be hotly contested, seen as a preview of Republicans' effort to take over the House next year, when all 100 seats are up for election. The GOP has not controlled the state House since 1920.

With Rollins' resignation, the House now has a membership of 54 Democrats and 45 Republicans.

Hack said the special election is an opportunity for people in the district "to lead the commonwealth in changing the culture of arrogance and self-interest that prevails in Frankfort today."

Hack, 46, said he has been an independent since 2007. He said he had been a Democrat most of his life and once was a Republican.

Democrats hold the majority in the district. It has 18,125 registered Democrats, 10,256 registered Republicans and 2,219 registered with other parties.

Hack said it is difficult to say how much money will be needed to win the race. He said he expects both Crews and Kay to spend $100,000 or more, adding that he expects he could get out his message with $50,000 to $60,000.

Hack has been associated with groups to stop expanded gambling in Kentucky, especially "Say No to Casinos." He said he now is with a group called "Stop Predatory Gambling."