Harmon, Dedman are House bound

November 03, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY and TODD KLEFFMAN

Republicans won state House seats in the 54th and 55th districts, with incumbent Mike Harmon claiming victory over David Sparrow in Boyle and Washington counties, and Milward Dedman defeating Sharon Clark in a tight contest to represent Mercer and Anderson counties.

Both districts strongly favor Democrats in voter registration, but turned out heavily in support of Republican President George Bush.

"I knew it would be close from day one," said Dedman, of Harrodsburg, who switched political parties last year and won by 375 votes. "I knew if it was not close, it would not be in my favor. Running as a Republican, you're not going to run away with anything."

The victory for Harmon, of Junction City, came easier. He garnered 2,112 more votes more than Sparrow, carrying both Boyle and Washington counties, and winning with 56 percent of the vote.

"This is my fourth race and every time we gather more friends and more support," said Harmon, who lost bids for the 54th district seat in 1998 and 2000 before winning it in 2002. "I'd like to thank David for putting his name on the ballot. He's a nice fellow with good name recognition who ran a strong campaign. It's important for people to have a choice."


Sparrow, a former Boyle County ag agent, said he believes Bush's popularity contributed to his defeat in his first race for public office.

"I think President Bush's coat-tail effect really helped my opponent," Sparrow said.

Dedman, a first-time candidate, replaces Democrat Jack Coleman of Burgin, who retired after 14 years of representing the 55th District, which also includes a small part of Spencer County. Dedman and Clark both praised Coleman for his service and each other for keeping their campaigns positive.

"It was a hard-fought race and I thank the people who helped me so much during the campaign," she said. "It was good seeing old friends again and making new friends. I'm pleased there was good voter turnout and I would hope people will stay interested in state politics."

Kind words for each other

Sparrow and Harmon also had kind words for each other after the race.

"I'd like to thank Mike for showing that a tough campaign can be run without having to go negative," Sparrow said.

Harmon said he believes his effort to be non-partisan in his first term in Frankfort helped earn him another. He said he worked hard to listen to people of both political stripes and was forthright in telling his constituents where he stood on issues. "We worked hard at doing our job and we worked hard on this campaign," Harmon said.

The outcry and threatened teacher strike over health care benefits for state employees was a troubling development for incumbents, Harmon said, but the way Democrats and Republicans hammered out a better deal in the special session of the legislature helped undo any harm the controversy may have caused. "By coming together and working in a bi-partisan manner, I think that showed we could work together as a team," he said.

Like Harmon, Dedman said he plans to go to Frankfort in January with hopes of ending the political gridlock that has often paralyzed the Capitol in recent years and representing all of their constituents, not just those who voted for them.

"I don't want to go just as a Republican. I want to go down there for the 55th District. We've got to look at what's best for the people of Kentucky," Dedman said. "One person can't change it, but one person can make it better.''

In the 54th District, Harmon collected 6,535 votes in Boyle County compared to 5,377 for Sparrow. In Washington County, Harmon won 2,924 to 1,970. Districtwide, Harmon garnered 9,459 votes to 7,347 votes for Sparrow.

In the 55th District, Dedman carried Mercer County 5,081 to 4,683, but Clark narrowly won in Anderson County 4,554 to 4,434. Dedman carried the two precincts in Spencer County, 534 to 438. Districtwide, Dedman collected 10,050 votes to Clark's 9,675 votes.

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