Wednesday, April 24, 2013

State Rep. Carl Rollins resigns to head state agency; special election to fill vacancy will be June 25

UPDATE, April 30: Democratic Party officials nominated James Kay of Versailles as their candidate for the election. Republicans nominated Lyen Crews, vice president of business and financial affairs at Midway College, who lost to Rollins by about 5 percentage points in 2010. UPDATE, May 8: Independent John-Mark Hack of Versailles, a former state agriculture-policy director, filed an hour before the deadline. For a story on the race from Ryan Alessi of cn|2's "Pure Politics," click here.

State Rep. Carl Rollins of Midway resigned from the General Assembly today in order to accept a new job: chief executive officer of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and the Kentucky Student Loan Corp.

“For the past seven sessions of the General Assembly I have had the honor of serving the people of the 56th District in the Kentucky House of Representatives,” Rollins told Gov. Steve Beshear in his resignation letter. “In the last five sessions leadership in the House has allowed me to serve as chairman of the House Education Committee, where we proved that by working in a bipartisan manner we could make significant improvements to public education for the children and citizens of the Commonwealth.”

The last session saw passage of at least two bills that Rollins strongly advocated: one that is expected to result in the dropout age being raised to 18, and the "Districts of Innovation" law that allows waivers from state rules to try new ways to improve learning. He also sponsored a bill to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky; it got nowhere but he was promised a hearing in the legislative interim.

Beshear, a Democrat like Rollins, called a special election for June 25 to fill the 20 months remaining in Rollins's term. Party precinct officials in the district will nominate candidates. McDonald's franchisee Joe Graviss of Versailles, who ran for the state Senate several years ago and has remained active in Democratic politics, has been mentioned as a candidate. Rollins told cn|2 Politics (Channel 2 on Insight and Time Warner cable TV) that county party chair James Kay, who was a legislative aide in this year's session, is interested in running, and Kay acknowledged that. Another legislative aide, Versailles City Council Member Brian Traugott, has also been mentioned as a Democratic candidate.

Carol Rogers, chair of the Fayette County Republican Party, "said the nominee is most likely to come from Woodford County, considering it makes up most of the district," cn|2 reports, noting: "The House must redraw the districts with the 2010 Census figures before the 2014 election. And the map the House put out earlier this year, significantly shifted the 56th District precincts in western Fayette County and instead added precincts from southern Scott County." It also includes much of Franklin County.

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