Politics & Government

Political group airs TV ads for GOP candidates in March 8 special House elections

Gov. Matt Bevin presented his budget to members of the state House and Senate during a joint session on Jan. 26, 2016.
Gov. Matt Bevin presented his budget to members of the state House and Senate during a joint session on Jan. 26, 2016. Associated Press

TV ads are running for the Republican candidates in four March 8 special House elections that could help the GOP draw closer to taking over the chamber.

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a Louisville-based independent expenditure political committee that successfully advocated for the re-election of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in 2014, is behind the 30-second ads.

“We are ensuring they will be seen by likely voters in the upcoming elections,” said Scott Jennings, a senior adviser to KSL. “We expect our coalition of independent expenditure groups to be on the air, in the mail, on computer screens and mobile devices, and on the phone for the duration.”

He did not say how much the ads cost.

Kentucky Democratic Party Chairwoman Sannie Overly, a state representative from Paris, said Democratic candidates in the four races are running “fully-funded campaigns.”

“Special elections are all about turnout. That means connecting with voters and getting them committed to vote on March 8th,” Overly said. “In each of these districts we have excellent candidates running aggressive, fully-funded campaigns with strategies in motion to work on the ground, on the phones, in the mailbox, and on the airwaves. They are doing what they need to do to win.”

Republicans are hoping to wrest control of the House from Democrats for the first time since 1921. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House 50-46. If Republicans win all four special House elections called by Gov. Matt Bevin because of vacancies, the margin would be 50-50 and questions would have to be answered about who would be in charge. Republicans have controlled the Senate since 2000 and won the governor’s office last November.

The four upcoming 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 of Georgetown.

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

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

▪  98th District, made up of parts of Boyd and Greenup counties: Democrat Lew Nicholls and Republican Tony D. Quillen, both of Greenup.

The KSL ads paint each Republican candidate as a conservative and say that Bevin needs allies in the legislature.

The Thomas ad touts his pledge to cut wasteful spending, improve roads and schools, support veterans and farmers, and fix public pensions.

The ad for Quillen mentions his Christian values and the line that he packs “a bologna sandwich to work like you do.” It says he promotes factory and coal jobs in northeast Kentucky, will tackle the state’s drug problem and will say no to “Obamacare” and Obama’s “war on coal.”

The ads for Pratt and Elliott say they will cut wasteful spending, shrink state government and cut taxes for workers and small businesses. The Pratt ad shows him in an orange vest, hunting with three other men. State Auditor Mike Harmon, who formerly held the 54th District seat, has a brief appearance in the Elliott ad.

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