Politics

Kentucky Democratic House leaders were present Thursday for the entry of Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson into the District 38 House race, setting up a potential challenge to Republican Rep. Denny Butler.

Butler has represented District 38 since 2013. The district stretches from the Wyandotte neighborhood south to the Jefferson County line.

Until last month, he was a Democrat. His switch to Republican helped cut the Democratic majority in the House to a 50-46 margin.

Johnson filed his candidacy in Frankfort for the House seat on Thursday. He was joined by several Democratic legislators, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo and House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins.

Other Democrats present were Rep. Jim Wayne, Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, Rep. Jeff Donohue, Rep. Joni Jenkins, Sen. Dorsey Ridley and Rep. Larry Clark.

Johnson’s council district near Iroquois Park is situated within the 38th House district. He’s served the area on the city’s legislative body since 1992, first as an alderman for the old City of Louisville and then on the Metro Council.

He announced last year he would not seek re-election to the council, and at the time he nodded toward running for mayor. Johnson has drawn criticism in recent years for financial issues and the then-Jefferson County judge-executive as his aide.

Louisville attorney McKenzie Cantrell has also filed for the District 38 seat. She is running as a Democrat.

Johnson is the second person with experience in Louisville city politics to file for the state House. Former Councilman Ken Fleming filed for the District 48 seat in December.

Fleming announced his bid after Rep. Bob DeWeese announced he would not seek re-election.

Fleming is a Republican, like DeWeese, and served on the Metro Council from 2003 to 2014 representing the city’s 7th District, which includes Indian Hills and the Briarwood areas. The state’s 48th District includes much of that same area, as well as portions of Oldham County.

No other residents have filed to challenge Fleming for the seat.

Other state House races with multiple candidates:

  • District 46: Incumbent is Rep. Larry Clark, a Democrat. Challengers include Alan Gentry (D), Bill Dudley (R) and Eric Crump (R).
  • District 33: Incumbent is Rep. Ron Crimm, a Republican. Challengers include Jason Michael Nemes (R) and Rob Walker (D).
  • District 37: Incumbent is Rep. Jeff Donohue, a Democrat. Challengers include two Republicans, Kurt Egner and Mark Wilson.
  • District 28: Incumbent is Rep. Charles Miller, a Democrat. Challengers include two Republicans, Michael Payne and Don Dolson Sr.
  • District 31: Incumbent is Rep. Steve Riggs, a Democrat. The challenger is Republican Sarah Provancher.

The filing deadline to run for office in Kentucky is Wednesday.

Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton contributed to this story.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.