Republican Sen. Dan Kelly, a member of the Senate committee that killed racetrack gaming legislation during a special General Assembly session earlier this year, was appointed by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear as an 11th Judicial Circuit judge.
Beshear, who made the announcement Oct. 26, in July appointed Republican Sen. Charlie Borders to head the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The seat of Borders, who chaired the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, was won by Democrat Robin Webb, who previously served in the Democrat-controlled House, after a special election in August.
"Sen. Kelly has the appropriate temperament and experience for this position,” Beshear said in a statement.
A special election is now necessary to fill Kelly’s seat. Beshear quickly picked Dec. 8 as the date for the District 14 Senate seat. That same day, an election with be held to fill Webb's House seat in District 96, the governor announced.
Republicans have a 20-17 edge over Democrats in the Kentucky Senate. There is one Independent—Bob Leeper, who also voted against racetrack video lottery terminals—who caucuses with Republicans.
If Kelly’s seat goes to a Democrat, the Senate count would be 19 Republicans and 18 Democrats.
Republicans have accused Beshear of appointing GOP legislators to various positions so Democrats will have a chance to gain seats in the Senate and move foward with a plan for racetrack video lottery terminals.