Higdon declares victory in special state Senate race

December 08, 2009 | | Comments 35
State Rep. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon

State Rep. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon

By Jack Brammer –

FRANKFORT — Central Kentucky voters rejected an attempt by Gov. Steve Beshear to erode Republican control of the state Senate Tuesday, choosing the GOP’s Jimmy Higdon over Democrat Jodie Haydon in a special Senate election.

The election — one of the most expensive legislative races in state history — marks a setback for Beshear and the horse industry, who had hoped to advance a proposal to allow electronic slot machines at racetracks by narrowing the Republican majority in the Senate to one.

Higdon, a Lebanon grocer who has been a state House representative since 2003, garnered 56 percent of the vote. He defeated Haydon, a Bardstown construction company executive who served in the House from 1997 to 2004, by more than 2,400 votes in the 14th Senate District — Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor and Washington counties.

Higdon replaces Republican Dan Kelly of Springfield, who resigned from the Senate in October to accept an appointment by the Democratic governor to a circuit judgeship.

An ecstatic Higdon attributed his victory to “a great team effort, my family and wonderful grass roots support throughout the district.” He carried every county except Nelson.

Though he was outspent, Higdon said it was “great strategy” by the state Republican Party to nationalize the race. His ads often attempted to tie Haydon with Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, particularly on the issue of health care.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, called the decision to focus on national issues shrewd and suggested the race may be a bellwether beyond Kentucky’s borders.

“I think the district reflects the current national mood,” McConnell said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement that Higdon’s election is “a positive sign of additional Republican victories to come, not only in Kentucky but nationwide, as we move forward to elections in 2010 and beyond.”

Haydon was not available for comment, but his campaign manager, Dale Emmons, said Higdon “simply had a solid base of support.”

Emmons said Higdon “made good use of his Right to Life endorsement late in the campaign, though my candidate also is pro-life.”

Haydon has not made any decision yet on whether he will file to run next year for a full four-year term for the seat. Higdon said he definitely will seek re-election.

Beshear and Democrats had hoped the election would further erode Senate President David Williams’ nearly decade-long control of the state Senate. But Republicans now hold a 20-17 margin over Democrats, and independent Bob Leeper of Paducah usually sides with Republicans.

The governor and the horse industry had hoped another Democrat in the Senate would make the chamber more receptive to a proposal for slots machines at racetracks, which is opposed by Williams, R-Burkesville.

Beshear issued a statement Tuesday night congratulating Higdon.

“The Republican Party was successful in their efforts to nationalize this race,” Beshear said. “However, tonight’s results will not deter me from continuing to fight for the needs of hard-working Kentucky families across the state.

Williams declined to comment about the race.

But Kentucky Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson said he hopes “the election puts to rest a pretty ugly chapter in the term of a governor who thinks he can buy state Senate seats.”

Robertson was referring to Beshear’s practice of appointing Republican senators to various positions and then using money from the horse industry to try to elect Democrats.

“No amount of money can subvert a Senate race and I hope this governor finally understands that,” Robertson said.

Haydon reported raising $333,455 for his race through Nov. 23. That did not include $212,794 in “in kind” services such as polling and advertising spent by the state Democratic Party for his campaign and nearly $300,000 a horse industry group spent on TV ads in Lexington and Louisville to help Haydon in the race.

Higdon reported in late November raising $131,499 for his campaign, although he also benefited from spending by other Republican groups.

Efforts to reach various leaders in the horse industry for comment Tuesday night were not successful.

Higdon voted against an expanded gambling bill earlier this year in the House that would have allowed slots at tracks. However, he voiced support for a constitutional amendment that spelled out where slots could be located and where money from them would be spent. He declined to say how he would vote if the issue ever were put on a ballot to the people.

Haydon agreed with Beshear that the horse industry needs help now and said it’s time to stop money from Kentucky gamblers going to casinos in neighboring states.




































Filed Under: David WilliamsDemocratic PartyElectionsRepublican PartySteve Beshear

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  1. […] Jimmy Higdon has won today’s special election for the 14th state Senate District seat, the Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting. The newspaper says Democrat Jodie Haydon, who was backed by the thoroughbred horse industry, […]

  2. jerry says:

    Well you people got him, no crying when he and his pals screw you big time, in time you will learn. Maybe.

  3. zed says:

    Well, just back the horse van up to the barn, load ’em up and head for Pennsylvania or Louisiana. We are done as an industry in this state.

  4. sorrry gov says:

    Instead of “Sorry Charlie” it is “Sorry Governor”. All of the horsey money could not buy you a election. You also loose the 96th beause of your arrogance and heavy tactics.

  5. Shame says:

    This is a dark day for Kentucky and forward progress and a win for lobbyist everywhere.

  6. Buck Feshear says:

    This is excellent news! Up yours, Beshear! You deserve this for trying to buy another Senate seat.

  7. Charlie Costello says:

    Not a good time to be buddy’n with the Democreatures is it.

  8. mac says:

    Well I guess in my state you can still win an election with the GOP talking points:Anti abortion(whos really pro abortion anyway)Traditonal marriage(really whats the divorce rate in this state no one is protecting marriage)and posting the Ten Commandments seriously folks while the ten commandments are to be upheld and respected they have no reason to be in politcs please take your party back from the talk radio hosts who only care about their pockets and not our country

  9. Hello says:

    And you can take those video poker machines with you!

  10. mac says:

    The gaming would only help for a while anyway politicans will spend that money before they get it and that is both party’s a bunch of hypocritical thiefs

  11. Richard says:

    A Pre-cursor to 2010 & 2012 Praise God!

  12. Honest Parley says:

    I can hear the moaning, groaning and knashing of teeth now, poor Farish, poor Casner, poor Jones. The shame, the shame of it all that the horse industry’s finest were rejected, outright, resoundingly, and by a substantial margin. The super wealthy financiers of KEEP Our Jobs learned they can’t buy us, even with free food and beer at Hawk’s and the Cozy Corner. The learned that the working families of this state know a sham when they see one, and all the Queen’s money, Price William, won’t ever change that.

  13. lou sanders says:

    jimmy,we are glad you won the race today.husband and i are democrats. we voted for you .it is time for a change. good luck. don and lou.

  14. Joey says:

    No show Higdon won’t even show up to vote. This victory means nothing. David Williams still faces dissension within his own party. Look for his colleagues to conspire to oust him. The Republican Senators know that he is holding them back and they have to answer to their constituents.

  15. Honest Parley says:

    How so Shame? How is it a win for lobbyists? I guess they get to keep working for Churchill, K-land and crew. But it’s a win for forward progress my friend. When working people’s best interests trump the motivations of unbridled greed, then we have progress.

  16. jorden says:

    Now this is a reflection on Beshear–You’ll be next Steve if you don’t change your ways–get rid of the crap in your administration–start with your chief of staff-next is your general counsel-fire Joe Meyer like KACO did–listen to the people who voted for you-not that group of kids working in the Capitol and those losers you put in as cabinet secretaries–you have a 55% DISAPPROVAL rating !! Do you know what that means ? Drop the gambling issue and deal with the big problems Kentucky has or you have 2 more years to enjoy the Mansion–

  17. yellowdog says:

    The ship of state just hit a reef. I think we better call in the dogs, pee on the fire and go home. More of the same old nonsense!

  18. Buck Feshear says:

    “Well, just back the horse van up to the barn, load ‘em up and head for Pennsylvania or Louisiana. We are done as an industry in this state.”

    Good. If horse racing cannot stand on its own four legs and has to have a gimmick like casino-style gambling to prop it up, it deserves to fail

  19. Jim says:

    Thank you Kentuckians!!! The party of gambling, abortion, communism, atheism, and whatever evil they can conjure up lost tonight. Congratulations on a job well done.

  20. Annie Z says:

    Just for one, a huge piece of legislation was stopped by Mr. Williams last year, the Industrial Hemp Bill. If he and the GOP really want to win with the farmers, the industry and the next generation, then send Mr. Williams the word that if he wants to keep his seat next time, he better let a bill out that many sponsors want for the economic impact Kentucky needs. Lets face it people, the horses are mostly for the elite, hemp production puts lots of people in manufacturing back to work in Kentucky and gives us a leg up on the other states to be the main supplier to the automotive industry and many other industries that use hemp, that our nation imports now from Canada. Lets talk about the real issues here Mr. Williams and Governor Breshear!

  21. Taika says:

    Jimmy is a good fellow and we worked hard for him. I’m glad he won, the Senate will be better for it.

    David Williams on the other hand, I will work against. He killed pro-gun legislation and a variety of other good bills because they were “controversial.” We need a Republican who stands for principle, and getting one of those will be the next challenge.

    The gambling thing is ridiculous though. Why should we give special monopolies to a certain industry? Slots have nothing to do with horse racing, and as an article by the Herald itself points out – legalizing it helps the gambling industry… not horse racing, which would continue to deteriorate. If you’re going to legalize gambling for anyone, fine… but special favors by decree of the Earl of Kentucky are no boon to us. Just another way for the government to get our money to spend, although this one is a stupid tax instead of a tax by force. 🙂

  22. A. B. J. says:

    Good point, Annie! It’s definitely time for industrial hemp… let’s make money by actually PRODUCING something instead of by losing money in slot machines. Why aren’t Beshear and Williams talking about REAL solutions? They’re just worried about their image… not improving the standard of living in Kentucky.

  23. Tracy Saboe says:

    Glad to hear this. I linked to this post.

    Jimmy Higdon wins!


  24. midway man says:

    100,000 jobs for kentuckians – that is what the horse business provides. Forget the “elite” that own the horses, we are talking about jobs for working people. Horse racing has problems to correct, but slots would bail out the ship while the crew patches the hull.

    If you don’t think horses are moving out of KY then you have not seen the recent foal crop numbers – decreasing in KY, increasing in PA & LA.

    Please don’t be so ignorant to believe that this will prevent Kentuckians from gambling – the Ohio River is close & your beloved David WIlliams will save you a seat at an IN casino!

  25. Go Rand Paul! says:

    Newsflash: Rand Paul held big fundraiser for Higdon on November 30th, you can see the video below. Meanwhile, Trey Grayson was in New York City yesterday, a day before this important special election, to have a fundraiser with people who supported the bailout.

  26. CSI says:

    The Horse Industry is dead in this state no matter who won.

    If we raise our stakes prizes, with the support of gambling dollars, above the surrounding states, in a couple of years they will raise their stakes prizes above ours. Then the pattern will have to repeat itself again. and again, and again.

    Then what do we do?

    Will it be time to legalize prostitution at the gambling dens and horse tracks?

  27. Jesse J says:

    Word on the street is Higdon actually is principled. We need to downsize DC, but we really need people who understand the big picture, like Higdon, in the State offices.

    Congrats to the people of Kentucky. Next, lets get Rand Paul in the US Senate! Real. Honest. Americans.

  28. kelly jones says:

    Bring back jerry lundergan!!! Gov he built a strong democratic party that you have nows destroyed. now on to house democrats who will watch their majority vanish. I love the Democratic Party with all my heart, I’ve walked for candidates since I was 10 years old, PLEASE, bring back Jerry as chair, he cares and will rebuild our party!!

  29. demstoo says:

    i miss jerry too!!

  30. shakenbake says:

    Typical liberal blogger. A headline that reads “Higdon declares victory” is so asinine. Just say he freakin’ won instead of insinuating he didn’t, but is “declaring victory” anyway.

  31. stupid KY says:

    How many more ignorant, self righteous, religious freaks who think this is a nation is based on the christian religion(go back and read the constitution you morons and the Treaty of Trivoli 1797, you igonorant losers)are still convinced the horse industry is composed of only wealthy people? Do you think the grooms, hot walkers, farriers, feed and hay distributors, most owners with one or two horses and most trainers are rich? Do you realize 80% of the races run in this country are cheap claiming races and that only 5% of horses that make it to the races actually make a profit? Instead of spouting off your mouths, try reading something factual (not the bible, it is man made rhetoric that is full of fantasy and fairy tales, which explains all the different versions)and educating yourself instead of following what your church spouts(mostly bigotry and hatred of all other that differ from them)like a bunch of sheep. Stop dictating how you think others should live. Try shutting up, listening and forming some of your own opinions based on facts, in other words, become enlightened.

  32. […] Republican Revolution II succeed, I hope we investigate the hell out of MoveOn, SEIU, ACORN… Higdon declares victory in special state Senate race Democrats biting the dust becomes a recurring theme Heckuva Job, Desiree: N.Y. Times Downplays […]

  33. Buck Feshear says:

    Law enforcement is generally against industrial hemp production. It’s too easy to slip in a few plants of wakky bakky in there and industrial hemp production makes marijuana eradication and fighting our drug problem that much harder. Plus you have the Gatewood factor. He first ran for governor on the Peter Tosh platform but later backed off and campaigned for industrial hemp. He forever mixed those two issues in the eyes of the electorate.

  34. Iza Funin says:

    I wonder when Governor Burns is going to find a horse head in his bed? Oh, and Homer called the Governor just to say DOH!

  35. Big Ben 4 liberty says:

    Hey Stupid, why don’t you go back to jerking off to your midget porn while screaming your hate-filled anti-christian venom. Your comments are so factually stupid they aren’t worth the time you took to post them.

    As for legalizing industrial hemp, I’m all for it. As for the wacky tabaccy, legalize it too. Its not nearly as harmful as alcohol and could save a lot of farms in this state. Besides the so-called drug war, which has been absolute failure, is nothing more than big government jobs program that tramples on people’s liberties.