David K. West, a Republican making his first race for elected office, defeated Democratic state lawmaker Bob Damron in Tuesday's election for Jessamine County judge-executive.
Damron, 60, had been in the state House since 1993 but decided to seek the judge-executive's job. West, 53, who co-owns a Nicholasville funeral home, had never run for public office.
With 37 of 38 precincts reporting, the unofficial tally was 9,679 votes to Damron's 6,495 votes.
"I had lived with this hope that this result would happen, so I am humbled," West said.
For the first time in decades, Jessamine County reported having more registered Republicans than Democrats.
"There's a huge Republican push in this county," Damron said. "There just seemed to be a huge Republican swing in the county tonight."
Damron had run radio ads in the past month that brought up a police investigation of West's tenure as secretary-treasurer of an organization called the Central Kentucky Funeral Limousine Association, which provides hearses and limousines to 25 funeral homes in the region. No criminal charges or civil litigation were brought against West.
West said he thinks the ad and his positive response to it backfired on Damron.
"As I said in one of my commercials, I believe the integrity with which a man runs his campaign will be the integrity with which he will run his office," West said. "I'm proud of the way we conducted ourselves in the campaign."
Damron said he wouldn't have done anything differently.
"I had a lot of people tell me they voted for me because they finally found out who David West actually was," Damron said. "I don't see that it (the ad) hurt us at all."
West will succeed Neal Cassity, a Democrat who has been judge-executive in Jessamine County since 1990. West said he'd already spoken with Cassity.
"He said whenever I'm ready to begin the transition, to get with him and we'd go to work," West said.
Damron said he doesn't plan to run for office again.