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Dems flip Kentucky House seat held by lawmaker who killed himself

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Democrats gained a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives Tuesday after a special election following the suicide of a GOP lawmaker who had faced sexual assault allegations. 

Linda Belcher, a retired teacher and former Democratic state lawmaker, soundly defeated Rebecca Johnson, who was attempting to serve out the remainder of her late husband’s term.

Belcher had lost to Dan Johnson by fewer than 200 votes in 2016.

In December 2017, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an interview with a woman who claimed that Dan Johnson had sexually assaulted her in 2013, when she was 17. The interview was accompanied by pages of police documents. 

Amid bipartisan calls for his resignation, Johnson denied the allegations on Facebook on the night of Dec. 13 before shooting and killing himself hours later.

KENTUCKY STATE REP. DAN JOHNSON COMMITS SUICIDE AFTER SEXUAL ASSAULT ACCUSATIONS EMERGE

Rebecca Johnson also denied the allegations against her late husband, claiming he was a victim of “an assault from the left.” She refused to concede defeat Tuesday night, citing “widespread voter fraud.”

“I’ve heard from and about 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 news release. “It’s like we’re in a Third World country.”

With friends and family standing behind him, Kentucky State Rep., Republican Dan Johnson addresses the public from his church on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, regarding allegations that he sexually abused a teenager after a New Year's party in 2013, in Louisville, Ky. Johnson says a woman’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in 2013 has no merit and he will not resign.  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

State Rep. Dan Johnson committed suicide Dec. 13.

 (AP)

Earlier in the day, county election officials discovered residents in a particular subdivision were incorrectly listed as not living in the district. Bullitt County Clerk Kevin Mooney said the problem was fixed and poll workers were instructed to send affected voters to another precinct. Mooney said if all of the affected voters had voted for Johnson, it would not have changed the outcome.

At her campaign headquarters in downtown Shepherdsville, Belcher said she won the election “fair and square.” It’s the third time voters have elected Belcher, who was first elected in 2008 when she replaced her husband on the ballot after he was killed in a car wreck.

Belcher said it was “hard to say” if sexual assault allegations against Dan Johnson and his death played a part in the election, adding: “I have tried to stay very positive and away from that whole situation.”

Belcher told a reporter Bullitt County “has spoken what it wants.”

She added, “It wants honesty and integrity and a very visible person as their state representative.”

Carol Schneider, 65, called Rebecca Johnson “a die-hard, stand-by-your-man kind of woman.” But she voted for Belcher, she said, because Johnson was “hanging on to a bunch of lies and now that he’s dead he’s like this martyr.”

James Carmony, 47, said he wasn’t sure he believed the sexual assault allegations and said he ultimately voted for Johnson because she is a Republican and he believed she would support the state’s GOP governor. “A lot of things like that come out, sometimes they are true and sometimes they are not.”

Tuesday’s election was also one of the first signs in 2018 that Democrats have momentum heading into the pivotal midterm elections two years into Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said it’s at least the 35th contested seat Democrats have taken from Republicans since Trump was inaugurated. And it may have come in the reddest district to date. Trump won Kentucky’s 49th House district in 2016 with more than 72 percent of the vote. On Tuesday, the Democratic candidate won with more than 68 percent of the vote.

“The results here show that if we can win in this district, we can win anywhere,” said Ben Self, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “I think this shows the entire House, the Kentucky House, is in play.”

Republicans scoffed at that notion, with state GOP spokesman Tres Watson pointing to low turnout and the circumstances of Johnson’s suicide “clouding the outcome.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Brexit bonanza: Unshackling from EU lands UK £4billion shot in the arm, new study shows

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BREXIT has given the UK economy a timely shot in the arm amounting to two percent of GDP – equal to almost £4billion – largely because unshackling itself from the EU enabled Britain to get a vital head-start on the vaccination rollout, a new analysis has indicated.

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Get over it! Juncker admits MAJOR Brexit mistake – 'I shouldn't have listened to Cameron!'

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JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER has admitted he should not have listened to David Cameron during Brexit in a major revelation today.

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GOP Reps. Greene, Gosar try to distance from ‘Anglo-Saxon’ traditions document

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Two far-right House Republicans linked to a document outlining a policy platform calling for the protection of “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” distanced themselves from what they called a draft of prescriptions for a new “America First Caucus.”

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said in a Saturday statement that he “did not author” the document in circulation and only became aware of it after it was reported by the news media, adding that he “will continue to work on America First issues in the House Freedom Caucus.”

“Let me be perfectly clear, I did not author this paper,” he said. “In fact, I first became aware of it by reading about it in the news yesterday, like everyone else.”

Additionally, Nick Dyer, a spokesperson for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said in a statement that the document was merely “an early planning proposal and nothing was agreed to or approved.”

When the document first surfaced Friday, Dyer assailed “dirty backstabbing swamp creatures” for sharing the document with Punchbowl News, which first reported on its contents and said the effort was linked to Gosar and Greene. “Be on the look out for the release of the America First Caucus platform when it’s announced to the public very soon,” he added.

Greene herself released a statement Saturday calling the platform “a staff level draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn’t read.”

The outline for the new group contained a number of nativist ideas that Democrats lambasted as racist while some Republicans have also condemned the effort. The seven-page organizing document, which includes the group’s name and a logo, says: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

It adds that “societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country.”

The document backs new infrastructure projects so long as they are in keeping with “the progeny of European architecture, whereby public infrastructure must be utilitarian as well as stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power and source of freedom.”

Soon after the document’s release Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told reporters he was considering joining the group and confirmed Greene’s involvement with it, adding though that he had not seen the platform language about Anglo-Saxon traditions.

“It’s not supposed to be about race at all,” he said. “We’re stronger as diversified. But there are some things that help make us strong. Slavery nearly destroyed us.”

Gosar and Greene both have faced backlash this year — Greene for her promotion of conspiracy theories, which led Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to condemn her for spreading “loony lies” and the Democratic-controlled House removing her from committees in February, and Gosar for speaking at “Stop the Steal, promoting the Jan. 6 rally ahead of the Capitol riot and spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election.

Among the Republicans who pushed back on the platform included Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who tweeted Republicans “teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage.”

“Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil,” she continued. “History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate.”

Speaking with NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, blasted the “so-called America First Caucus” as “one of the nuttiest things I’ve ever seen.”

“Listen, America is a land of immigration,” he said. “We’ve been the world’s giant melting pot for 250 years. And we ought to celebrate the fact that we are this giant melting pot. And to see some members of Congress go off and start this America First Caucus, it’s the silliest thing I’ve ever seen. And Republicans need to denounce it.

Amanda Golden contributed.



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