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Former Educator, Bevin Official Square Off In Ky. Senate Special Election

kentucky senate

Voters in Bullitt County and southern Jefferson County will head to the polls Tuesday to send a new state senator to Frankfort.

The special election is being held to fill a vacancy in the Senate created by the retirement of Republican Sen. Dan Seum, who had represented Senate District 38 since 1995.

The two candidates — selected by their local political parties in November — are Mike Nemes, a Republican who served in former Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, and Andrew Bailey, a Democrat and former public school teacher from Louisville.

The election will not change Republicans’ control of the General Assembly, but Democrats are hoping to regain ground after a series of losses in recent legislative elections.

Republicans currently have a supermajority in the Senate with 28 out of 38 seats. Democrats have 9 seats, a low-water mark for the party’s representation in the chamber.

Nemes worked as the deputy secretary of Kentucky’s Labor Cabinet under former Gov. Bevin and held the same position in Bevin’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. He also served as a state representative from 2011 until 2013. His son, Jason Nemes, is currently a state representative for House District 33.

Bailey was a history and robotics teacher at Fairdale High School in Louisville who decided to run for office after the infamous pension “sewer” bill passed out of the legislature in 2018. He ran unsuccessfully for the seat as a write-in candidate that year. He now works for the local teachers union, the Jefferson County Teachers Association.

Senate District 38 has been controlled by Republicans since 2000 when its most recent officeholder — retired Sen. Dan Seum — defected from Democratic ranks during a coup that flipped the Senate into GOP control for the first time in state history.

But Seum also declined to support former Bevin’s reelection effort last year, instead endorsing now-Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

Party registration is nearly split in the district, which includes suburban parts of Louisville and rural Bullitt County — Democrats have 43,717 registered voters and Republicans have 43,587.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. You can check to see if you are registered to vote in the district at GoVoteKy.com.

This story has been corrected. It previously said Andrew Bailey is a teacher at Fern Creek High School. He was a teacher at Fairdale High School and now works for the Jefferson County Teachers Association. 

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.