FRANKFORT – State Rep. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello won a special election Tuesday to fill the state Senate seat in south-central Kentucky left vacant by the resignation of David Williams.
Gregory easily turned back a challenge from Democrat Bill Conn, a Williamsburg teacher, to capture the 16th Senate District seat, which includes Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne and Whitley counties.
In an unofficial count, Gregory had about 80 percent of the vote.
“I am so excited about the opportunity to represent this district,” Gregory said in a phone interview.
Former Senate President Williams, R-Burkesville, vacated the seat Nov. 2 after being appointed to an open circuit-court judgeship by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. There are two years left on Williams’ unexpired Senate term.
Since Gregory, 30, won a second term on Nov. 6 as state representative for the 52nd House District, which includes McCreary and Wayne counties and a portion of Pulaski County, a special election will have to be held to fill out her state House term.
Gregory, an attorney, said she pursued the Senate seat because she wants to keep working on key issues that she has tackled as a state representative. They include new jobs and development, drug abuse and protection of conservative values.
Gregory had help from big-name Republicans during a bus tour Saturday of the district. Campaigning with her were U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green, state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Sen. Robert Stivers of Manchester, who is in line to become president of the Senate in January.
“I’d like to congratulate Sara Beth Gregory on her victory,” Stivers said in an email. “She is the 24th Republican senator, giving us a super-majority plus one. We felt confident she would win because of her abilities and the environment we are in. Her success is further proof that this state favors the policies that the Kentucky State Senate espouses.”
Conn, in the campaign, described himself as a conservative Democrat who disagrees with President Barack Obama on many issues, including the coal industry.
He said he called Gregory about 8 p.m. to concede the election. “There’s a good possibility I will run again someday,” he said.