Politics & Government

Money keeps flowing from out of state for Kentucky House Republican candidates

Lawmakers return to state capitol in Frankfort on Tuesday for a 60-day session.
Lawmakers return to state capitol in Frankfort on Tuesday for a 60-day session. Staff file photo

More Republican dollars are flowing into Kentucky to help GOP candidates in the four special House elections on March 8.

GOPAC, which works to elect Republicans to state and local offices throughout the country, announced Tuesday that it is putting more than $100,000 into the Kentucky House special elections called by Gov. Matt Bevin to fill vacancies.

Its announcement comes on the heels of a decision by the Republican State Leadership Committee, based in Washington, D.C., to launch a digital ad buy around the state trying to tie the Democratic candidates in the special elections to President Obama.

State Democratic Party chairwoman Sannie Overly, a state representative from Paris, said the Kentucky House position as the last legislative chamber in the South held by Democrats made it “a target, maybe the No. 1 target, of outside groups, dark money and special interests.

“This money is coming from corporations and individuals who have never been to Kentucky and don’t care about Kentuckians,” she said.

Overly said the House Majority Caucus has been raising money since 2014 and “is in a strong position to fully fund the special elections.”

GOPAC, based in Arlington, Va., plans to use its Kentucky money for a targeted direct-mail program to promote the Republican candidates’ biographies and political positions, according to a news release from the organization.

GOPAC chairman David Avella said the mailers would be sent out weekly to voters in the House districts, starting Tuesday or Wednesday.

He also said each GOP candidate will receive the maximum contributions to their campaign committees from the GOPAC Election Fund and GOPAC members, and the maximum amounts have been given to the Kentucky House Republican Caucus Campaign Committee and the Republican Party of Kentucky.

He noted that GOPAC has been assisting Republican efforts to take control of the Kentucky House since 2014. “We are not new to the battle,” he said in a telephone interview.

With victories in all four special elections, the Kentucky House would have 50 Republican members and 50 Democratic members going into the 2016 general election, Avella said.

Democrats have controlled the state House since 1921.

The four special House elections and their candidates are:

▪  62nd District, which includes Owen County and parts of Fayette and Scott counties: Republican Phillip Pratt and Democrat Chuck Tackett. Both are from Georgetown.

▪  54th District, made up of Boyle and Casey counties: Republican Daniel B. Elliott and Democrat Bill Noelker. Both are from Danville.

▪  8th District, made up of parts of Christian and Trigg counties: Democrat Jeffrey R. Taylor and Republican Walker Wood Thomas, both of Hopkinsville.

▪  98th District, which covers parts of Boyd and Greenup counties: Democrat Lew Nicholls and Republican Tony D. Quillen. Both are from Greenup.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics