Kentucky Politics

Gov. Andy Beshear has set a date for two special elections to fill vacancies in the state House of Representatives. The seats were vacated by two longtime Democratic representatives who joined Beshear’s administration shortly after he was inaugurated on Dec. 10.

The date for both elections will be Tuesday, Feb. 25.

The seat for House district 99 was held by House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins since he was first elected in 1986. The district includes Elliott, Lewis and Rowan counties in north eastern Kentucky.

Adkins resigned after Beshear appointed him to be a senior adviser in his new administration

Historically, House district 99 has been a stronghold for Democrats, but Republicans are hoping to flip the seat in their favor as the region trended in their favor in recent years.

Adkins’ home of Elliott County voted in favor of Donald Trump in 2016, the first time the county had voted in favor of a Republican in recorded history. But the district still favors Democrats in party registrations and Beshear won two out of three counties in the district on Election Day.

The other special election will take place in House district 67, which has been held by Democratic Rep. Dennis Keene since 2005.

Beshear appointed Keene to be his commissioner of the Department of Local Government.

The district includes part of Campbell County in Northern Kentucky.

So far, Democrat Rachel Roberts and Republican Mary Jo Wedding have announced they want to run for Keene’s old seat.

Local Democratic and Republican parties will decide who to nominate for the special elections and have until Jan 7 to do so.

Republicans currently hold 61 seats in the 100 member House, Democrats have 37 and there are two vacancies.

Governors issue writs of special election when the legislature isn’t in session, but if a vacancy were to take place during the session, the leaders of the House and Senate would set an election date.

The legislature begins its 60 working day session on Jan. 7. The final day of the session is April 15.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.