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Kentucky Republicans Celebrate Wins, Look to Next Year's Election

J. Tyler Franklin

Fresh off a successful election season, Kentucky Republicans say they are dead-set on getting the entire state government under GOP control.

Party leaders met Saturday in Louisville to discuss next year's election, plan for the looming presidential caucus and instate new chairman Mac Brown.

The newly elected state leaders, led by Governor-elect Matt Bevin, were in attendance.

After big wins in this month’s statewide election, Republicans control most constitutional offices in Kentucky, and the party has a majority in the state Senate.

But without control of the state House, where Democrats hold an eight-seat advantage, they're likely to have a difficult time moving many of their legislative priorities, which range from a state right-to-work law to charter schools.

“We want to take the third leg of the stool and flip the House, and be like dozens of other states with Republican control from top to bottom,” said state Sen. Damon Thayer, the majority floor leader. “Folks, Democrats have had their chance. They have had their chance for 200 years.”

The state House's 100 members are up for re-election next year.

State Rep. Stan Lee, the minority caucus chair, said the party’s recent electoral gains show they have the momentum heading into 2016.

“I’m going to tell you because of election night it is already happening,” Lee told party leaders. “We have great candidates coming to us. We are not having to go fishing. People are coming to us who want to step forward, who want to stand for election, who want to change the state — and we are going to make it happen.”

Thayer said Republican leaders have their eye on several conservative policies they plan to pursue now that they have a GOP governor.

“We look forward to working with Matt Bevin to do things like pass right-to-work, repeal the prevailing wage, bring school choice to Kentucky, pass tort reform, pass regulatory reform and pass our pro-life bills that [Democratic House Speaker] Greg Stumbo has obstructed for too long,” Thayer said.

Bevin warned leaders that the task ahead of them is difficult, and many people will be watching closely.

“There are those who quite literally are looking forward to us making mistakes — perhaps those that we have made in the past, perhaps new mistakes. People who want to see us fail,” he said.

Bevin also said he’s begun recruiting staff for his administration, and he asked party members for their help.

Featured photo of Matt Bevin by J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL News.

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