Wheeler wins Lawrence Co. on way to special election victory
Republican Phillip Wheeler defeated Democrat Darrell Pugh yesterday by 660 votes in the special election to choose a replacement for now Pike Co. Judge/Executive Ray Jones’ 31st district Kentucky State Senate seat.
Both candidates call Pikeville home but Wheeler carried the heavily Democratic (by registration) county over Democrat Darrell Pugh, a Pikeville businessman making his first run for office. The total was 6,788 for Wheeler and 6,128 for Pugh. which means the state senate will add to its commanding lead in that body 29-9.
Wheeler carried three of the counties including Pike, Lawrence and Martin and Pugh won in Elliot and Morgan.
“When I’ve represented my clients over the last 15 years, I’ve never asked them whether they have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ behind their name”, said Wheeler, who has practiced as an attorney locally. “And I’m not going to ask if they have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ when they come to me seeking help for their communities,” Wheeler told WYMT.com.
But Wheeler made no secret that he was a ‘pro Trump Conservative’ in his campaign messages and advertisements – and Pugh made no secret he was an anti-Bevin Democrat. Many people saw the election as a referendum on Governor Bevin, it may have been more about President Trump.
“Trump is still really positive here. I don’t know. I’ve already called and congratulated Phillip”, said Darrell Pugh, who is the runner-up in the special election. “We were friends before the race and I feel like we’re still friends. Whatever happens, I just hope it’s best for Eastern Kentucky,” Pugh told WYMT.com
Here are the unofficial results by county.
Elliott County: Pugh 450, Wheeler 168
Lawrence County: Pugh 639, Wheeler 895
Martin County: Pugh 265, Wheeler 688
Morgan County: Pugh 671, Wheeler 609
Pike County: Pugh 3624, Wheeler 3828