Lockett’s win part of Republican landslide
Published 10:39 am Thursday, November 12, 2020
Matt Lockett beat Democrat Carolyn Dupont by more than 4,000 votes last Tuesday to become the first Republican ever to represent the 39th District in the Kentucky House.
His win was part of a red tsunami that swept through the Bluegrass Nov. 3 and resulted in landslide wins in Jessamine County for President Donald Trump and other Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Congressman Andy Barr, all of whom defeated well-funded Democrats by about two to one.
In the southern part of the county, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green won by nearly 3,600 votes, and no Democrat even challenged the incumbent GOP state representative, Kim King.
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This was in a county where 20 years ago, Democrats were the majority.
Lockett, who was the Republican county chairman when he ran for the House seat against a Democrat who described herself as a pro-life moderate, wasn’t surprised by the GOP landslide.
“Over the past several years, the county has been trending Republican,” he said. “I think a lot of that has been because of where the national Democrat Party has been headed … toward a more liberal agenda.”
That doesn’t align well with the views of most Jessamine Countians, or Kentuckians, for that matter, he said.
Not all of the votes for Republican candidates came from Republicans.
“There are a lot of conservative Democrats in Jessamine County that just don’t go as far left as the national Democrat Party does,” Lockett mentioned.
Many of them have become Republicans. In Jessamine County, as in Kentucky as a whole, new Republican registrations have dwarfed those for new Democrats.
“The bottom line is you’re running in an election where the president is at the top of the ticket, and a United States senator and a congressman,” he said, and like it or not, “you’re going to get tied to that entire ticket,” just as he was tied to Trump, McConnell and Barr, Lockett said.
“Jessamine County did have a lot of straight-ticket voting, and I think it’s unfortunate this year the two parties are much more polarized,” he said.
Out of 26,535 votes cast in Jessamine County in the 2020 general election, 13,263 were straight-ticket ballots, and of those, 9,440 were Republican straight ticket.
A straight ticket is one in which the voter checks one box to elect all the partisan candidates for one party or another rather than voting for each one individually.
Lockett said he appreciated the support and trust he received, and he promised to work hard and represent all Jessamine Countians, whether they voted for him or not.
“I’m going to be their voice in Frankfort,” he said, and he would be open to “listening to concerns and other positions and hearing all sides of an argument.”
“I want to be that type of representative who represents everyone, regardless of party,” he said.
The Republican supermajority in the Kentucky General Assembly just became even more lopsided. According to the unofficial results, after Tuesday’s election, Republicans now control 75 of the House’s 100 seats, while Democrats have only 25. In the Senate, the Republican advantage is 30 to eight.
The House has enough Republican votes to override any vetoes by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear if the members vote the party line. It’s the same in the Senate.
That means the legislature can set a conservative agenda.
“I’m excited to be a part of the legislature, but I’m also excited to be part of what was a huge red wave in our state,” Lockett said.
When the legislature meets Jan. 5 for its short, odd-year session, the top priority will be the budget. Beshear recently said the revenue situation is strong enough that the state shouldn’t have to make draconian cuts, despite the coronavirus pandemic — or in part because of the federal relief money the state has gotten.
“That would be good,” said Lockett, who is a financial adviser.
Aside from the budget, he said, “I think we’ve got to take a hard look at getting our state back open.” Lockett said there were some bills filed before the election to address the issue, and those need to be studied.
Among the proposals are curbing the governor’s authority to issue state-of-emergency public health orders to try to control the spread of the coronavirus by temporarily closing businesses, reducing hours, limiting capacity to require social distancing and mandating masks.
One House bill would even limit to 14 days the length of time a governor can declare a state of emergency without calling the legislature into a special session to get its approval.
“The virus has hit Kentucky as well as every other state hard, and our small businesses are suffering, our people are suffering. Unemployment checks are still not being sent out. There are a lot of things we have to tackle in conjunction with the virus … and the mandates of the governor. It’s time that we take a look at how best we can help our state, how best we can open our state up to business and even bring in more economic growth in a time like this,” Lockett said.