One of the most talked about political races here in Eastern Kentucky was between two men who share the same name, although spelled slightly differently, as (R) Johnnie L. Turner claimed the 29th District Senate seat from long-time incumbent (D) Johnny Ray Turner.
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Floyd Countians and other individuals around District 29 took to the polls to cast their ballots for this year's senate race, which saw Floyd native and incumbent Johnny Ray Turner lose his long standing state senate seat to his challenger, Johnnie L. Turner, of Harlan County.
According to the Kentucky State Board of Elections website, Johnnie L. Turner secured the victory by claiming approximately 22,422 votes throughout the 29th District, which includes Floyd, Harlan, Knott and Letcher counties. Johnny Ray Turner, although winning Floyd County, only amassed a total of 19,462 votes, bringing his 20-year run to an end. Although Johnny Ray Turner admits he would have enjoyed a different outcome, he said its been honor to serve the citizens.
"It's truly been honor to represent the people of the 29th district for the last 20 years," Johnny Ray Turner said. "Over my 20 years I've represented six different counties overall and I believe we've had a really good tenure."
Johnny Ray Turner said he believes a good deal has been accomplished over that time and added that he is appreciative of the support and trust the people within the 29th district has given him, each time he was elected to serve.
"Unfortunately, I wasn't pleased with the outcome, but I do appreciate those people who supported me throughout the process," Johnny Ray Turner said. "I hope the progress that we have made and the work we have done continues to happen, not just here in Floyd, but the other counties within the district as well."
Newly-elected Johnnie L. Turner said that, despite the outside noise declaring he couldn't win the election, he was confident the people would support him. He added that he is appreciative of the people within the 29th for electing him to the state senate seat and that he believed it was just "time for a change."
"I'd like to think that I have an idea about the needs here in Eastern Kentucky," Johnnie L. Turner said. "I also understand the ability to be able to work with a majority, as well as a minority, in order to accomplish a common goal."
Some of the major things on which Johnnie L. Turner hopes to focus are road funding and projects throughout the district and also the upcoming possible redistricting. However, one of the major issues he identified needing to be resolved is regarding Gov. Andy Beshear's powers, regarding his restrictions, which has been a hot topic throughout the state, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"I'm very bothered by our governor, who is elected by the people, who is single-handily saying how to live," Johnnie L. Turner said. "All you people can't go to church, or you can't meet. However, you let the liquor stores be open, Wall-Mart be open and you can go in any of them where there's no policing in those stores.
"It was very offensive to me, being raised and baptized as Christian and I think it's very necessary that the legislative bodies take up that issue," he added.
Johnnie L. Turner continued that hopefully something can be done to prevent situations such as those in the future and he alluded to some conversations which have taken place regarding a possible committee or task force from the Senate or House side, which would consult and advise the governor during pandemic such as the current one due to COVID-19.