Democrat and WKU history professor Patti Minter won the Kentucky State House seat for the 20th District.
After the final votes trickled in, Minter was all smiles in the Preservation Tasting Room and Bottle Shop during her campaign’s election results watch party on Tuesday. As she walked in after the end of the race, her supporters roared with applause.
Minter received 6,253 votes, or 53.5 percent of the vote, and Lawson received 5,436 votes, or 46.5 percent.
“I can’t even describe how I feel right now,” Minter said after hugging several supporters. “I’m celebrating because all of these beautiful people are here tonight to help me celebrate. I’m happy to be surrounded by people who have made this campaign a reality, the people who have done the work and have gotten our message to Frankfort. I can’t think of any better way to celebrate than that.”
Minter will be the first woman elected in Warren County to the Kentucky General Assembly, and she remarked on the significance during her victory speech and after winning the race.
“I’m so honored to have broken this glass ceiling,” Minter said.
Minter said she will focus on the issues from her campaign’s platform, including investing in education, raising the minimum wage, guarding animal welfare, protecting health care and increasing affordable housing, as previously reported by the Herald. She said she also looks forward to co-sponsoring the first statewide fairness bill, which would provide housing and work protections for LGBTQ people in Kentucky.
About 40 people attended the election results watch party put on by Minter’s campaign.
One of those in attendance was 22-year-old Ivy Parsons, a WKU senior mechanical engineering major who voted in Bowling Green. As part of the LGBTQ community, the Fairness Ordinance was one of the most important issues that made her vote for Minter, who is currently the head of the Bowling Green Fairness Movement.
“The fact that I could potentially be fired for how I look, who I love and the way I live my everyday life is troubling,” Parsons said.
Bowling Green native, junior Alicia Abade, 20, said she voted in the election because she was dedicated to Minter.
“She wants to help keep the pension promise and make it possible for people to work on a living wage,” Abade said.
Taylorsville junior Ryan Linton worked on Minter’s campaign for the past eight weeks as an intern for the Kentucky Democrats. He said he was stressed for the past two months from preparing and campaigning for the midterm elections, and he had been holding back tears since the results were announced.
“We did it,” Linton said. “We made history. Kentucky is changing for the better.”
Across town amid a spread of tacos and local beer, Ben Lawson announced defeat in his race against Minter.
Lawson, the Republican candidate, held his watch party at Blue Holler Brew Supplies on the 31 Bypass. Despite his loss to Democrat candidate Patti Minter, a history professor at WKU, Lawson remained optimistic.
“We ran a great campaign,” Lawson said. “I know everybody in this room has done so much for me, for my family and for this campaign, for what our vision was and I know that this isn’t the end for what we believe in and what we want to see happen.”
Lawson had been leading before the majority of the districts had been counted before dropping to Minter, who garnered 53.5 percent to Lawson’s 46.5.
“I don’t take this as a loss,” Lawson said. “I take this a learning experience, a growing experience, and we’re gonna take this and move forward.”
Lawson said he wished Minter well moving forward.
“We are the fastest growing community in the state,” Lawson said. “I want to see us continue that pace and I want to see us compete with Tennessee, with Ohio, with Indiana and to become the state that we’re capable of.”
Lawson said he will continue to try and serve the Bowling Green community.
“I’m sharing the Thanksgiving meal for our congregation coming up here in a couple of weeks,” Lawson said. “I’m gonna dive back into the community and keep trying to do the good work that I believe it takes.”
Lawson’s supporters had packed Blue Holler in hopes of seeing their man spurred to victory by a large voter turnout.
“I vote because I still feel like my opinion matters,” said Matt Kitchens, 28, a Bowling Green native and longtime friend of Lawson. “If you don’t vote than nobody knows how you feel.”
Kitchens said he was disappointed by the defeat and he thought Lawson was a great choice for the position.
“He’s a very good person,” Kitchens said. “I would trust his judgement on a lot of things in politics. Republican or Democrat, I know the person that he is so I think he would have been great for this state.
With the final vote starting to trickle in, Lawson’s father, Chip, 57, of Bowling Green said that he was proud of his son regardless of the result.
“The public makes their decision by voting,” Chip Lawson said. “We have to respect that and move on with it.”
Reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and email@example.com. Follow Nicole Ziege on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.