Grayson throws cold water on Dems' election shenanigans concerning Mongiardo's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat
Southeastern Kentucky Democrats hoping to pull a coup and force at least one Republican from his seat in the House of Representatives may have found their nefarious plot halted.
As everyone knows, Lt. Gov-elect Dan Mongiardo is a state senator from Hazard. He will have to resign his seat when he takes office as lieutenant governor next month. Despite calls for Mongiardo to go ahead and resign so a special election can be held to replace him in the state Senate and ensure representation for his district during the upcoming legislative session, Mongiardo has stated he won't resign from the Senate until his Dec. 11 swearing-in as lieutenant governor.
Should Mongiardo resign now, a special election could be held very early in the General Assembly session and his replacement seated only a week or so into the session. However, the longer he waits, the longer the residents of Perry, Leslie, Harlan and Bell counties will be without a state senator.
The most likely Republican nominees to fill Mongiardo's seat are state representatives, Tim Couch of Hyden and Brandon Smith of Hazard. Conventional wisdom is that by holding a later special election, the nominee would have to choose between running in the special Senate election or running for re-election to the House. This would especially effect Smith, who won a close race when challenged last year by former State Rep. Scott Alexander and is serving as a Republican in a predominately-Democrat district. (Couch's seat is considered safe for the GOP since his House district is predominately Republican). None of the Democrats who are considered leaders for their party's nomination are currently serving in the General Assembly, although two of them have served in the past.
Sounds like a pretty good partisan strategy for the Democrats, especially if Smith is the GOP nominee, doesn't it?
Well, as a famous native of that Senate district, Cawood Ledford, used to say, "hold the phone."
Comes Trey Grayson (a little legal lingo for you there), secretary of state, with a pronouncement that since the race to fill Mongiardo's vacancy is a special election and not a regular one, and that Mongiardo's seat isn't up for re-election next year, one person could file for both the special Senate election and the primary House election. That means that if either Couch or Smith are selected by the GOP as the Senate nominee and they lose, they won't automatically lose their House seat at well.
This is a place where the GOP definitely needs to show some prudence to ensure they have a candidate in the House races who can win in the fall. It's a given that Alexander, should he not win the special Senate election, will challenge Smith again for the House seat from Perry County. Couch's House seat is safe for GOP, unless they don't have a nominee. The Republicans need to recruit standby candidates for both seats (Couch's and Smith's) who will run only if the incumbent is out of the race, but will drop out if the incumbent House member stays in the hunt.
Mongiardo should do the honorable thing and resign his Senate seat now, but since he won't, it's comforting to know that the Democrats' dirty trick in this deal is not going to work.