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November 7, 2018 12:51pm

Election 2018’s Impact on Greater Louisville

Divided government will return to Capitol Hill in 2019. Republicans in the U.S. Senate expanded their 51-seat majority, while Democrats flipped the House of Representatives.

Congressman John Yarmuth will return to the Hill for a 7th term and is expected to capture the pivotal chairmanship of Budget Committee Chair. Indiana Congressional District 9 reelected Congressman Trey Hollingsworth and the Hoosier State has a new junior U.S. Senator, Mike Braun, defeating Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly. Interesting to note how close many of the races for federal office were decided Tuesday night, at least 35 were decided within four percentage points. In the Kentucky State Legislature, six races came down to a margin of 1-50 votes. Never let it be said that every vote does not count.  

Divided government in Washington could really go one of two directions when it comes to policy: bi-partisan cooperation or political gridlock. If it’s cooperation, we might expect common ground to be found in areas like infrastructure funding or possibly criminal justice reform. If it’s gridlock, then be on the lookout for government shutdowns  and budget fights. More certain is the ability of Senate Republicans to continue confirming White House judicial nominees, including on the Supreme Court should another vacancy occur.

At the state level, Kentucky House Republicans retained a super majority (61-39). Important to note: a super majority is needed to pass tax-related issues in an odd-numbered year. Based on unofficial results, House Democrats had a net gain of two seats, after 90 contested races in 2018 of which 24 were open seats.

Several flips in the Greater Louisville region: Republican Nancy Tate defeated Democratic incumbent Jeff Greer (Dist. 27- Meade, Hardin); Democrat Tina Bojanowski defeated Republican incumbent Phil Moffett (Dist. 32-Jefferson); Democrat Maria Sorolis defeated Republican incumbent Ken Fleming (Dist. 48- Jefferson, Oldham); Republican Thomas Huff defeated Democratic incumbent Linda Belcher (Dist. 49- Bullitt)

Kentucky State Senate Republicans also maintained their super majority (28-10) and all regional State Senate incumbents will return to Frankfort in January- Sen. Jimmy Higdon (Dist. 14- Casey, Marion, Nelson, Spencer, Jefferson); Sen. Paul Hornback (Dist. 20- Shelby, Henry, Trimble, Carroll, Jefferson); Sen. Ernie Harris (Dist. 26- Oldham, Jefferson); Sen. Julie Raque Adams (Dist. 36-Jefferson); Sen. Dan Seum (Dist. 38- Jefferson, Bullitt).

Arguably the most important takeaway from the state legislative races in Kentucky is that Republicans are well-positioned to continue pursuing many of the policies that they have championed in the past two sessions, such as tax reform and changes to Kentucky’s public pension systems as well as measures along the lines of right-to-work and workers’ comp reform. For the upcoming 2019 session, it is important to remember that the statewide constitutional elections—governor, attorney general, secretary of state, etc.—could also play a major role in shaping policy in Frankfort.

At the local level, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was elected to a final 3rd term, defeating Louisville Metro Councilmember Angela Leet.On Metro Council, Democrats picked up two seats, expanding their majority to a 19-7 veto-proof majority.

The contrast between Democrats’ supermajority on Metro Council and the Republican supermajorities in the Kentucky House and Senate reflects a growing urban-rural divide that shaped results in many parts of the country last night.