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May 14, 2014

16th District Senate race causing stir among Republicans

FRANKFORT —  It’s not a tea party challenge from the right, but a Republican primary for a state senate seat in the 16th District is ruffling some Republican feathers.

The newly drawn district extends from McCreary County along the Tennessee border to Cumberland County and then turns north to take in Russell, Adair and Taylor counties, all new to the district.

That prompted Campbellsville University political science professor Max Wise, 38, to jump in the race. That didn’t sit well with state Senate Republican Leadership. Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, indicated they weren’t happy to have one of their colleagues challenged by a fellow Republican.

Wise had often considered running since his days as an FBI analyst before returning to Taylor County to teach at CU where his mother taught and coached women’s basketball for many years. That’s how Wise met his wife. He helped his mother recruit Glasgow High basketball star Heather Hood to Campbellsville.

Wise thought about running for the House seat eventually won by Carney several years ago, but one of his sons was diagnosed with cancer shortly thereafter.

“Our lives just completely shifted gears and politics went on the back burner so we could concentrate on his treatment,” Wise said. Carter, now 7, recovered, and so when Taylor County was added to the 16th Senate District, he decided now was the time.

Gregory graduated from the University of Kentucky with a political science degree and subsequently the UK law school. She clerked for federal Judge Eugene Siler before returning to her hometown of Monticello to practice law. She was elected to the House four years ago before winning the special Senate election in 2012.

The May 20 outcome might be decided along geographic lines. Gregory’s support is in the southern part of the district — Cumberland, Clinton, McCreary and her home of Wayne County. Wise lives in Taylor County, the northern most county in the new district, but he also has family connections in Wayne and Clinton counties. In between are Russell and Adair counties which combined have about one-third of the 53,723 registered Republicans in the district.

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