STATE SENATE: Hornback powers to victory

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By Todd Martin

 Many people thought state Senate candidates David Eaton and Paul Hornback were similar in many ways, but District 20 has made its choice to follow the Republican theme of the night.

Hornback followed in the early footsteps of Rand Paul and swept through the district, winning by more than 20 percent over Eaton, the Democratic candidate. “I’m just tickled to death,” Hornback said from the Republican gathering at Cattleman’s Restaurant. “I was surprised [at the margin] because I never felt it was that way. I’m very humbled by the people’s choice.” Hornback stormed through Spencer and Bullitt counties, winning both by more than 20 percent. The closest race was in Shelby, where Hornback won 59 percent to 41 percent. The two were battling for the seat left empty by Gary Tapp (R-Shelbyville), who announced his retirement.  Neither candidate felt like the Republican wave that crashed over Kentucky pushed the race one way or another. “I don’t know. I never really played that game,” Eaton said. “I think the people had a choice, and they voiced their opinion.” Hornback said the national push didn’t hurt, but he believed the choice went deeper. “I think the voters saw a candidate that was pushing for the working people, a candidate who has knowledge of a broad range of issues and somebody that will be out there working for them.” Owner of Hornback Farms, he has served as president of the Council for Burley Tobacco, held numerous leadership positions with the Kentucky Farm Service Agency and has served on the Shelby County Fair Board. As a Republican, he earned early endorsements from Tapp, and incumbent state Rep. Brad Montell. Although new to politics, Hornback didn’t see that as a problem. “I’m 52 years old, and I have had enough experience now in several areas to be able to serve the 20th District,” he said earlier this year. Hornback focused his campaign on agricultural, small business and finance. And he often touted his ability to balance a budget while running a small business, and how that would help him in Frankfort.  “I’ll talk with some people in leadership positions tomorrow, and we’ll see what course we need to take,” he said.  “I’ve learned a lot about the Occupational and License Committee that Gary Tapp has served on for the last few years. “And the Budget Committee is something I’m going to work very hard to get on because the problems with Kentucky are not revenue problems but spending problems. I want to have a first hand look to see what we can do to restrain our spending just like we’re all having to do with our home budgets.”  Earlier last month current Senate President David Williams had endorsed Hornback for a spot on the Budget Committee if he were to be elected. Hornback beat David Glauber of Bullitt County in the primary Eaton said he was quick to call Hornback and congratulate him and, despite the loss, that he will back Hornback as much as possible. “I was a little surprised, but I ran a hard race, and I congratulate Paul,” Eaton said. “I will do everything I can to support him. I’m a firm believer in the power of the people, and they’ve made it clear whom they support. Eaton has served the county for 23 years in some capacity. He was the mayor of Shelbyville for eight years, a Shelbyville City Council member for 10 and has been Simpsonville’s city administrator for five years. He said he will continue to work in Simpsonville, but this was likely his last election. “I’m starting to get up there in age, and I’ve been privileged to serve as a council member and mayor,” he said. “There comes a point in time when you have to move on. I’ll use this time to spend more time with my grandkids, my family and on my job in Simpsonville. Eaton topped John Spainhour from Bullitt County in the primary.