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Kentucky governor will appoint replacement for top prosecutor in Louisville

Jefferson County Commonwealths Attorney seal
Commonwealth's Attorney Office
Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine has died.

Gov. Andy Beshear will appoint a temporary replacement for Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine, who passed away Saturday.

Under Kentucky law, the governor is responsible for appointing someone to fill a vacancy in Louisville’s top prosecutor’s office until voters can weigh in. In this case, Beshear’s pick will serve until a special election in November where the Democratic and Republican candidates will be chosen by local party leaders, according to a spokesperson for the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office. The winner of that election will serve the remainder of Wine’s term, which was set to end in 2025.

A spokesperson for Beshear declined to say Wednesday when the governor plans to announce his appointment.

Courtesy of the Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron tapped First Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Erwin Roberts to take over Wine’s duties until Beshear makes an appointment. Roberts joined the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in 2016 as serving as executive director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and deputy secretary of the state’s Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.

In a statement provided to LPM News on Wednesday, Roberts praised Wine’s dedication to “over 40 years of public service to making Jefferson County a better place.”

“To say he will be missed is an understatement, but the Office will continue his great work, and it is an honor to serve,” he said.

Wine’s family have scheduled his funeral and memorial service for this Saturday. The husband and father of two served as Commonwealth’s Attorney for 10 years, first winning election in 2012. He also worked in the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney during his decades-long career.

Each county in Kentucky has a Commonwealth’s Attorney, who prosecutes all alleged felony crimes that take place within their jurisdiction. They can launch investigations, force witnesses to testify and negotiate plea agreements with defendants.

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