Democrats flip another red seat in district of Kentucky congressman who committed suicide

In a special election Tuesday, Democrats gained another state legislative seat in a district President Trump won in 2016.

In the race for Kentucky’s 49th House district, Democrat Linda Belcher defeated incumbent Rep. Rebecca Johnson, the widow of Rep. Ron Johnson, who committed suicide in December after facing sexual assault allegations.

Democrat candidate Linda Belcher.(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley).

With 4,947 votes cast, Belcher won the race 68.45 to 31.55 percent, the Courier-Journal reported.

Belcher, a retired teacher, had served in the state House twice before. She lost her 2016 bid against Ron Johnson by less than 200 votes.

After the election results came in, Rebecca Johnson, who was holding the seat formerly occupied by her late husband, refused to concede the race, citing alleged voter fraud.

“I’ve heard from people all day long saying they went to vote for me at the correct polling place and were refused the opportunity to vote,” Johnson said in a statement. “It’s like we are in a third world country.”

Campaign signs for both candidates for Kentucky’s 49th District, Republican Rebecca Johnson, and Democrat Linda Belcher. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley).

According to Fox News,  election officials discovered early on election day that the residents of a subdivision were unable to cast votes because they were wrongly listed as living outside the district.

Bullitt County Clerk Kevin Mooney said the issue was promptly resolved, and that Belcher would still have won even if all the subdivision’s residents had voted for her opponent.

Johnson also accused Belcher of being part of an effort to tarnish her husband’s reputation.

“The only thing I really want to say at this point is that I know the pain of losing a husband,” Belcher told WHAS 11 in December. “I’ve been through that. I don’t wish that on anybody.”

Rep. Ron Johnson. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File).

Belcher was first elected in 2008 after she replaced her husband on the ballot after he was killed in a car accident.

“I have tried to stay very positive and away from that whole situation,” she said of the assault allegations against the deceased lawmaker.

Belcher told the press that the district has “spoken what it wants.”

Ron Johnson shot himself in front of his car on a bridge in Mt. Washington in December. At the time, he was the subject of a report from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting that said the politician kissed and fondled a 17-year-old girl in 2012, while he was serving as a pastor.

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley).

Democrats’ Tuesday win marked the latest of several recent flipped state legislative seats in their party’s favor.

Earlier this month, Republican James Buchanan lost to Democrat Margaret Good in a race for Florida House District Seat 72, which became open when the Republican incumbent stepped down to focus on her business.

In December, Democrats won over a dozen GOP-held seats in the Virginia state legislature.

“The results here show that if we can win in this district, we can win anywhere,” Kentucky Democratic party chairman Ben Self told Fox News.

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley).

Belcher will serve the remainder of Ron Johnson’s term, which ends in December. President Trump won the district with more than 72 percent of the vote in 2016.


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