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With Simpson Out, Covington Could See Competitive House Race

Covington and northern Kenton County has not seen a competitive race for its seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives in decades. 

That could change this year.

State Rep. Arnold Simpson (D-Covington) announced on New Year's Eve that he would not seek a fourteenth two-year term representing House District 65.

His departure from the race could create a ripple effect in this year's local elections.

Who will replace Simpson?

No one has officially filed yet. In fact, year after year, Simpson typically ran unopposed except for in 2006 when he easily defended his seat against Republican challenger Ray Murphy.

The seat leans Democratic but Republicans made history in 2016, winning control of the Kentucky House for the first time in a century. They may be eager to pick up a seat that has been solidly Democratic.

On the Democratic side, former Covington fire chief Charles "Buddy" Wheatley may be a possible successor. He has been active in local politics and has represented the Covington firefighters union as an attorney in all their recent legal battles with the City of Covington. Wheatley had planned to run for city commission but Simpson's surprise retirement may prompt him to change his mind.

Wheatley confirmed to The River City News that he is exploring a run for Simpson's seat and may have an announcement in a few days. He declined to say much else via text message, saying he wanted to give Simpson some space after his retirement announcement.

On the Republican side, Covington city commissioner Jordan Huizenga may be giving it a go.

"I'm praying about it," Huizenga said. He said that he was planning to seek a third term on the city commission in the 2018 election, but is weighing a possible run for the state legislature. "I'm talking to people I greatly and deeply respect and love and admire, and I'm praying about it."

Huizenga said he has no timeline for an announcement - but will have to say for sure by January 30, which is the filing deadline for both the statehouse and city commission races.

"I want to do what's best for my family and be where I feel like I can be most useful to the good people of Northern Kentucky," Huizenga said.

Both Huizenga and Wheatley, like Simpson, live in Covington's Old Seminary Square neighborhood.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher