Milestone win builds on GOP strength in eastern Kentucky

Kentucky capitol
Posted at 2:48 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-11 14:49:03-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The GOP will have its largest margin ever in the state Senate after voters in an eastern Kentucky district elected a Republican for the first time since the 1960s.

Republican Phillip Wheeler defeated Democrat Darrell Pugh in a special election last week in state Senate District 31. The Legislative Research Commission said when Wheeler is sworn in next week, he will be the first Republican to hold that seat since 1966.

The victory will give Republicans 29 out of 38 Senate seats. Republican Senate President Robert Stivers called it "strongly symbolic," and said it portends good things for Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's re-election chances in the fall.

Senate Democratic Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey downplayed the results, noting it was a special election with low turnout.