- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 8, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Voters in four Kentucky state House districts will elect representatives on Tuesday that could determine which party controls the House of Representatives and whether Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget can pass. Here is a look at the races scattered throughout the state.



This district covering parts of Trigg and Christian counties in southwest Kentucky is Republican in theory, but Democratic in practice. That’s because House Democrats have drawn the district to benefit Democrats and former Democratic Rep. John Tilley, the popular lawmaker who held the seat for seven years and was chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee. But Tilley shocked his Democratic brethren by resigning to take a job in Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, thus creating a vacancy.

The Democratic nominee is Jeffrey Taylor, a retired economic development recruiter for the Tennessee Valley Authority and the former chairman of the Graves County Democratic Party. The Republican nominee is Walker Wood Thomas, owner of Hopkinsville’s Roller Dome Fun Plex since 1986. The candidates have clashed over Bevin’s proposed $650 million reduction in state spending. Thomas supports it, Taylor does not.



This district covers Boyle and Casey counties in central Kentucky. Republican Mike Harmon represented this area for 12 years before he resigned after getting elected state Auditor in November. The large amount of Republican voters in Casey County makes this district a tough one for Democrats, but in a special election anything can happen.

The Republican is Daniel Elliott, an attorney who graduated from Bellarmine University and interned with former Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning. The Democrat is Bill Noelker, a former F/A-18 fighter pilot who is now an assistant commonwealth attorney for Boyle and Mercer counties. Noelker has touted his military credentials in campaign ads, while Elliott has touted an endorsement by Kentucky native Dakota Meyer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving in the Marines in Afghanistan.



This district covers Owen County and parts of Fayette and Scott counties north of Lexington. It has traditionally been a Democratic district, until Republican Rep. Quarles won the seat in 2011. Quarles resigned after getting elected state agriculture commissioner in November.

The Democratic nominee is Chuck Tackett, a farmer who lost to Quarles in 2014 by 17 percentage points. The Republican nominee is Phillip Pratt, the owner of a landscape business who has never run for public office before.



This district covers Greenup County and parts of Boyd County in eastern Kentucky near the border with Ohio and West Virginia. It has one of largest labor union presences in the state, making it a Democratic stronghold for decades. Former state Rep. Tanya Pullin enjoyed wide popularity in her district, but resigned after Bevin appointed her to become an administrative law judge.

The candidates are well known to the voters as both have held public office for more than a decade. Democrat Lew Nicholls is a former state judge and Republican Tony Quillen is a county commissioner. Nicholls is trying to energize union voters scared about Republicans eliminating the prevailing wage and passing a right-to-work law. But Quillen has broken with his Republican colleagues and says he will protect the prevailing wage and vote against a right-to-work law.

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