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As McGarvey goes to D.C., race to replace him takes shape

Inside view of the Kentucky State Senate chambers.
J. Tyler Franklin
/
LPM
A Louisville Metro Council member and a former school board candidate will face off in a special election to replace former Democratic state Sen. Morgan McGarvey.

A Louisville Metro Council member and a former school board candidate will face off in a special election to replace former Democratic state Sen. Morgan McGarvey.

In November, McGarvey won the election for retiring Louisville Rep. John Yarmuth’s seat in Congress, beating Republican Stuart Ray by 24 points. McGarvey was first elected in 2012 to represent residents of Senate District 19, which includes parts of Louisville’s urban core and southern suburbs like Hollow Creek and Spring Mill.

Under Kentucky law, officials with the Jefferson County Democratic and Republican Parties are responsible for selecting candidates for a special election, which they did late last week. Metro Council Member Cassie Chambers Armstrong of District 8, which includes much of the Highlands, was chosen to be the Democratic nominee. Former Jefferson County Board of Education candidate Misty Glin was nominated by Republicans in a unanimous vote. The winner on Feb. 21 will finish the two remaining years of McGarvey’s term.

Louisville Metro Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong speaking in front of several microphones with people standing behind her.
Roberto Roldan
/
LPM
Louisville Metro Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong speaking at a press conference in front of NoraeBar in 2021.

Chambers Armstrong said her experience in Metro Council taught her how to build bipartisan support for policy proposals. She said it’ll be a useful skill if she becomes part of the Democratic minority in the Senate.

“My main priorities are continuing to build on the work I’ve done in early childhood education, continuing to support those policies that make the economy work for working families and make sure that we are investing in health in our communities in a broad way,” she said.

Chambers Armstrong is currently a law professor at the University of Louisville and a mother of two young children. Since being elected to Metro Council in 2020, she’s authored legislation to increase access to childcare and provide paid leave for city employees who are victims of domestic abuse. She was also one of the sponsors of an ordinance creating a safety zone around health care clinics, including those providing abortions.

A federal appeals court blocked that ordinance last month.

If Chambers Armstrong wins the special election, it will create a third vacancy on Louisville Metro Council.

Portrait of Misty Glin in a red shirt.
Courtesy of the Jefferson County Republican Party

David James, who represents District 6 and is the outgoing council president, and District 3’s Keisha Dorsey, both Democrats, are resigning to take jobs in Mayor Craig Greenberg’s new administration. The remaining Metro Council members are expected to select their temporary replacements after accepting applications and conducting interviews.

While Senate District 19 is generally considered a safe Democratic seat, Glin hopes she can pull off an upset. She said she thinks residents could benefit from having a representative who is part of the Republican majority in the statehouse.

“Pragmatically speaking, any bill that a Democrat brings up in Frankfort is [dead on arrival],” Glin said in an email. “I can work with Republican leadership to help get contentious bills like sports betting, medical marijuana, and JCPS reform across the finish line.”

A mother and corporate training manager for a pharmacy in Louisville, Glin ran unsuccessfully for the Jefferson County Board of Education last year. She wanted to represent District 6, which includes parts of the Germantown, Newburg and Okolona neighborhoods. Glin garnered 46% of the vote against incumbent Corrie Shull, running on a platform of increasing police presence in schools, improving the quality of instruction and giving parents “a louder voice in their childrens’ education.”

In 2020, Glin was active in local conservative groups that organized against mask mandates, remote learning and classroom discussions about systemic racism.

Glin said public education will continue to be her top priority if elected.

“I believe we can all agree that our public education system is a disaster,” she said. “Somehow with unprecedented funding, our students are falling further behind than ever before.”

Winning the District 19 race will be important for Democrats, who have just six out of 38 seats in the Republican-controlled Senate. So far no independent candidates have filed to run in the special election.

Chambers Armstrong received $33,500 in individual donations as of early December, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Glin has not yet reported any fundraising or spending with the state.

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