With family and friends looking on, the winners in the four special Kentucky House elections on March 8 were sworn into office Tuesday afternoon.
Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Michelle Keller swore in the three Democrats and one Republican after the state Board of Elections earlier in the day certified the votes in the elections.
Democrats won elections in Western Kentucky’s 8th District (Jeffrey R. Taylor of Hopkinsville), Central Kentucky’s 62nd District (Chuck Tackett of Georgetown) and northeastern Kentucky’s 98th District (Lew Nicholls of Greenup). The sole Republican won the race in Central Kentucky’s 54th District (Daniel B. Elliott of Danville).
A total of 27,902 people, or 22.3 percent of registered voters in the four districts, cast ballots in the special elections, said Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the state’s chief election official.
The new House members give Democrats a 53-47 advantage over Republicans in the chamber through the fall elections. Before the special elections, the House breakdown was 50 Democrats and 46 Republicans.
Republicans are trying to gain control of the chamber for the first time since 1921.
The Kentucky House is the final state legislative chamber in the South to remain in Democratic control, and it is the last bastion of Democratic Party power in Kentucky, which otherwise has been trending Republican in state and federal elections.
The new members said they are getting a crash course in the legislature before voting on the state budget bill, perhaps as early as Wednesday.
“It’s like drinking water from a fire hose, all that has been tossed our way to learn,” said Elliott. He brought his late father’s Bible with him to the ceremony.
Nicholls, a judge, said he “felt like when I took the bench for the first time.”
He also pointed out the House seat that his late father occupied in the early 1960s. He often accompanied his father to the House to serve as a page.