3 Louisville lawmakers among flurry of Democrats deciding to leave Kentucky House
With Republicans in control, some are retiring to make way for new blood.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- There is a changing of the guard occurring among Democrats in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
One year ago, Republicans took control of the House for the first time in nearly a century. Now, many Democrats are deciding it is time to move on, and make way for some new blood.
Jim Wayne, Darryl Owens, and Steve Riggs have a combined 67 years in the Kentucky House representing the Louisville area. All three Democrats have announced they are not seeking re-election.
"Seems to be a changing of the guard taking place," Riggs said.
Riggs was first elected from the Jeffersontown area in 1991. He admitted part of the reason he is calling it quits is the loss of the long-time Democratic majority in the House.
"As a back-bencher, or being in the reserves, so to speak, or on the bench, it's a tough place to be if you're used to being the starter all the time," said Riggs. "The demotion is tough."
Riggs, Owens and Wayne are among nine Democrats, including former House Speaker Jody Richards, who have decided not to run for re-election. That amounts to one quarter of the 36 Democrats in the House.
Republicans said they are not surprised.
"They've spent one year in the minority, and they've learned the lesson that we learned over 90 years. It's not much fun being in the minority when you have little say in committee assignments, what bills move, what bills pass the floor," said Kentucky Republican Party spokesman Tres Watson.
Democrats said the exodus is just a natural attrition. Many of those leaving have served for decades and are retiring. James Kay and Will Coursey are running for Judge Executive in their home counties.
Kentucky Democratic Party spokesman Brad Bowman downplayed the loss of the House majority.
"I think it has very little to do with it, if any at all. Some of these are just personal choices that people have made," he said.
Riggs said the changing of the guard could ultimately be good for Democrats.
"I think it allows some turnover to allow a lot of new people in. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes that can be invigorating. I'm looking at it as something positive," said Riggs.
The deadline for filing for office is January 30th. By then it will become even more clear who is leaving the Capitol, and who will try to replace them.
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