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Highlands Metro Council member exploring run for state Senate seat

Louisville Metro Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-8) speaking at the press conference Thursday in front of NoraeBar.
Louisville Metro Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-8) speaking at the press conference Thursday in front of NoraeBar.

Louisville Metro Council Member Cassie Chambers Armstrong is preparing to run in a potential special election next year for a seat in the Kentucky Senate.

The 19th Senate District, which covers parts of the Highlands and neighborhoods near Bowman Field, would become vacant if Democratic state Sen. Morgan McGarvey is successful in his bid to replace retiring U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth in November. If that happens, the governor would call a special election to fill the seat early next year.

Chambers Armstrong, 35, has been the Democratic representative of a similar district on Metro Council for two years. She authored legislation to increase access to childcare and provide paid leave for city employees who are victims of domestic abuse. And she was one of the sponsors of an ordinance that barred street preachers and protesters from blocking the doors to one of Louisville’s only abortion clinics.

In an interview with WFPL News on Tuesday, Chambers Armstrong said her time on Metro Council has taught her how to build broad coalitions around political issues, a skill that would be useful if she joins the Democratic minority in the state Senate.

“A lot of these proposals passed unanimously, because I’ve put in the work,” she said. “I have learned how to bring together stakeholders around an issue and listen to folks on both sides to create really strong policy solutions.”

Democrats have just eight out of 38 seats in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Earlier this month, Chambers Armstrong filed a statement of spending intent with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. She can now formally start raising money for her Senate bid, although she had reported no donations as of Wednesday.

Chambers Armstrong is so far the only candidate to formally announce their intention to run for McGarvey’s seat. Currently the minority floor leader in the Senate, McGarvey beat state Rep. Attica Scott in May’s Democratic congressional primary. He’ll face Republican Stuart Ray in the General Election on Nov. 8.

Outside of Metro Council, Chambers Armstrong is an associate professor at the University of Louisville where she teaches classes on administrative law and public policy. She grew up in Owsley County in eastern Kentucky before attending Yale University in 2010. She then graduated from Harvard Law School in 2015 and clerked for a federal judge in Covington before moving to Louisville in 2016. 

Chambers Armstrong said her experience living in rural towns and the state's largest urban city gives her a unique perspective that she thinks will be valuable in Frankfort.

“We’re at this moment when there is a real divide, or at least a perceived divide, between our urban areas and our rural areas,” she said. “Being able to be a translator and work with folks of both political parties to start to actually find some solutions for the challenges our state is facing is something that I feel compelled to do.”

Under state law, there is no primary race for a special election. The board members of the local Democratic and Republican parties will hand-pick their nominees for the race.

Chambers Armstrong’s current term on Metro Council expires in January of 2025. The 26-member body would be required to appoint someone to finish her term if she leaves office before then. 

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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