With all votes in, the election has been called for a former State Representative to retake the position he held nearly 30 years ago.
With a margin of 632 votes, Knox County native Tom “O’Dell” Smith beat out competitors Scotty Reams 2,739 to 2,107 in combined Knox and Laurel County votes. Also in the running for the position held by Jim Stewart for over 20 years was Corbin City Commissioner David Hart, who received a combined 1,208 votes and Don Rose with 1,120 votes.
With no Democrat competitor, Smith will go on to begin serving the 86th District as State Representative when Jim Stewart’s current term comes to a close at the end of 2020.
“I’d like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support,” Smith said in an exclusive interview with The Mountain Advocate on Tuesday. “When you can get to 50% of a four-man race, people have gotten behind you and I appreciate that, it really does mean a lot to me. It gives me confidence that I can go up there with the support of my area and get some stuff done.”
Smith said he intends to get to work immediately working on his plans to take to Frankfort. Creating new jobs through education is something Smith is familiar with and plans to put that experience to work.
“With challenges comes new opportunity,” Smith said, adding, “People going to work helps to heal a lot of things. Getting people back into the work force and finding new avenues for people to find jobs — they’re not going to come, we’ve got to create them.”
In other statewide races, Democrat Amy McGrath narrowly beat out Charles Booker, 247,037 to 231,888 votes, a separation of only two percent. McGrath will go on to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell who seeks his seventh term in the Senate. McConnell serves as the Senate Majority Leader, making him the most powerful Senator in the United States.
McConnell held off a primary challenge from six competitors, including former State Representative C. Wesley Morgan.
McGrath ran an unsuccessful campaign in 2018 to unseat U.S. Representative Andy Barr. Booker, a State Representative serving Louisville, saw a surge in popularity in recent weeks.
In a statement on Facebook, McGrath said, “Our system isn’t working for everyday Kentuckians, and we need officials who have the courage to meaningfully tackle the legal, educational and health inequities that continue to prevent true racial and socio-economic equality.”
Democrat presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden decidedly carried Kentucky with 365,284 votes. Biden, the presumed nominee for the Democrat party, shared the ballot with nine other candidates, including former frontrunner U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who received 65,055 votes.
President Donald J. Trump received 371,718 votes. While there was no challengers on the Republican ballot in Kentucky, 57,283 voted “uncommitted.”
United States Congressman for the Fifth District, Harold “Hal” Rogers, beat out challenger Gerardo Serrano 76,575 to 7,436.
The general election is set for Tuesday, November 3, 2020.