Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin or state House of Representatives Speaker Greg Stumbo will now have to set a special election for state Rep. John Tilley’s seat after Bevin appointed the Democratic lawmaker as secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.
Bevin can set the special election himself in the coming weeks or it will fall on Stumbo to issue a writ of election once the General Assembly convenes in January. The election has to be held at least 56 days after the writ is issued.
The loss of another incumbent in the Kentucky House creates an opportunity for Republicans to capture another seat and possibly gain their first majority there in more than 90 years. Christian County Democratic Executive Committee chair Jeff Taylor said he was caught off guard by Tilley’s decision to accept the appointment, but is already working on finding a worthy candidate to nominate. With a special election like this, candidates from major parties are appointed by the local party's executive committee, in lieu of a primary.
“We’re looking over a list of names and people are calling us, interested parties, and we’re reaching out to some people, several strong Democratic names that are under consideration," Taylor said.
One Democrat that will not be running is former 3rd District state Sen. Joey Pendleton. He says he’s not interested in a return to politics.
The Christian County Republican Party released a statement on social media saying Tilley's appointment is a proud moment for Christian County.
"We are lucky to have such strong representation joining the ranks of the new administration," said Christian County Republican Party chair Jason Hasert. "We look forward to putting forth a great Republican candidate for the seat that John will vacate - someone who will be just as interested in bipartisan work as Rep. Tilley was during the eight years he has represented Christian County."
An official at the Christian County Clerk's Office said it would save the county money if the special election falls on next May's primary. Tilley's 8th District seat covers parts of both Christian and Trigg counties.