12/09/2009 1:00AM

Democrat loses special election in Kentucky


Jodie Haydon, a Democratic candidate for a Kentucky Senate seat who was heavily supported by the Kentucky racing industry, lost a special election conducted Tuesday to the Republican candidate, Jimmy Higdon, dampening Democratic hopes of narrowing the Republican Party's control of the Senate.

The election was scheduled two months ago after Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, appointed state Sen. Dan Kelly, a Republican, to a circuit judgeship he had been seeking for several years. Higdon defeated Haydon by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent, according to election results.

With the election of Higdon, the Republican Party will have 20 representatives in the Senate, and the Democrats will have 17. An independent member of the Senate caucuses with the Republican Party.

The senate has killed legislation that would give Kentucky racetracks the authority to install slot machines several times over the past two years despite aggressive public-relations campaigns by the racing industry that have been aided by Democrat support. Racing interests had been told by Democratic Party officials that a special session of the legislature was possible in December to consider new slot-machine legislation if Haydon was elected.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Kentucky racing industry bankrolled a $300,000 advertising campaign in support of Haydon in the race.