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Commonwealth Policy Center Assesses State House Elections
DATE: November 16, 2016
CONTACT: Brandon Porter (270) 576-1755

As the dust settles on the historic election for the Kentucky House of Representatives the Commonwealth Policy Center is reminding Republicans why they were elected to a majority.  Richard Nelson, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Policy Center said social issues played a large role. “One of the things to consider in light of leadership races in the House is what happened on election day.  Democrats had a 53-47 margin.  By the end of election night, the GOP picked up 17 seats and were the new majority holding 64 seats to the Democrats 37 seats.  That makes them a super majority.”

The winners weren’t from one region of the state, either.  They were from all across the Commonwealth.  Nelson said this is a clear sign of change in Kentucky, “This is an indication of a moral reawakening, if you will, in the political realm.  These were candidates who had clear moral vision and they ran on what they believed were important social issues to get elected.  Defunding Planned Parenthood, pro-life legislation and Obama's public school transgender bathroom mandate motivated voters at the ballot box this year. That’s a tremendous change from what we’ve seen in previous elections.”

The election brought great change to Eastern Kentucky.  Nelson says the coal industry and the need for jobs are one reason, but not the only reason for the change that included the defeat of Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg).  “Federal policies have devastated Eastern Kentucky's coal industry," Nelson said, "But there’s also a moral reawakening and a concern for social issues. That's why we saw two pastors get elected there.” Nelson pointed to John Blanton of Magoffin County. Blanton, a retired State Trooper, also pastors a church there.  Another is Chris Fugate, also a retired State Trooper, who now pastors in Perry County.  Both won handily to defeat incumbents.

As new legislators make their way to Frankfort for the General Assembly session in 2017, Nelson believes they would do well to remember why they were sent there in the first place. “Don't forget the issues you campaigned on and the issues voters were concerned about," Nelson advised. "If the GOP majority doesn't deliver on campaign promises, voters will remember and consequently, they may choose to elect someone else during the next election cycle or they just won’t show up at the polls at all.”

The 2017 General Assembly session begins on Tuesday, January 3.