The General Assembly kicked off Tuesday with the typical pomp and circumstance expected on day one of a regular session after an election. There was a sense of joy from the new members as they introduced family members for incumbents, freshman representatives, and plenty of time in recess for pictures.
The joy of the day quickly left the room when the clerk read the communication of elections contest, in reference to the contested election between now seated Rep. Jim Glenn (D) and DJ Johnson (R), the incumbent losing by just one vote.
The Kentucky Constitution states in section 38 concerning contested legislative elections that “a contested election shall be determined in such manner as shall be directed by law.” The law states in KRS 120.215 that a board is to determine the contest of election of members of the General Assembly.
The procedure is clearly written out.
This board was chosen by random draw witnessed by the Majority Floor Leader John “Bam” Carney and Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins. The final draw was six Republicans and three Democrats.
Rep. Derrick Graham said the minority caucus is “united against” following this procedure as they seem to feel that a contest to an election undermines the will of the voters. This certainly has the potential to be true should the wrong person be chosen by the House in this case. Rep. Graham also quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote “that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The question is injustice to whom? Would not the greater injustice be to ignore the procedure provided for in the Constitution and Kentucky law and ignore the possibility that the election was wrong?
Graham also said “the possibility exists that these three short words can take place in the process: to lie, to cheat, to steal” and that the “temptation to steal the election is hard to resist.” These are merely inflammatory statements that undermine the integrity of the process and the integrity of his colleagues from both sides of the aisle on the election contest committee.
This is not simply Rep. Graham voicing his concern, he was speaking on behalf of the entirety of the minority party. Rep. Adkins, who is running for governor, and Rep. Chris Harris also spoke in opposition. Harris said this was a dishonor and “stains our Constitution.” I’m not sure how following the Constitution to the letter would be a stain to the constitution?
It was only a few short hours before during the administration of the oath of office that all these elected representatives swore to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Commonwealth of Kentucky” and faithfully execute the office of state representative “according to law.” To ignore this procedure is a dereliction of duty at worst, and shows the extreme hypocrisy of House Democrats considering the fight over “procedure” in the SB 151 lawsuit.
The fact of the matter is this, creation of an elections contest board by the house is the law. But it seems the Democrats only want to follow the “rule of law” when it benefits them.
Calen Studler is a republican who ran against Democratic Rep. Derrick Graham in 2018 for the 57th House District seat.
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