Jody Richards

Jody Richards: Reflections of a Kentucky Statesman

Jan 3, 2019
LRC Public Affairs

When Legislators convene the 2019 session of the Kentucky General Assembly on Jan. 8, one prominent Democrat will be absent.  After more than 40 years of service to the Commonwealth, Representative Jody Richards begins his retirement.  The former House Speaker and Democratic gubernatorial candidate says there are many challenges facing lawmakers, but one issue is critical.

"The most important issue facing the Commonwealth always is education  - elementary, secondary, and higher - that’s the main function of state government," Richards said. "We spend somewhere around 55 percent of the state budget on education, so to me that is such an important part of state government.”

Patti Minter, Ben Lawson

Next January, Kentucky’s 20th District House seat will be occupied by someone other than Jody Richards for the first time since 1976.

The longtime Bowling Green Democratic Representative and former House Speaker is retiring after 42 years of service.

The two candidates hoping to replace Richards are running for office for the first time: Ben Lawson, a Republican, and Democrat Patti Minter.

Tuesday is Election Day in Kentucky

May 22, 2018

Kentuckians will make their way to the polls on Tuesday to vote in races up and down the ballot from the federal to local level.  Turnout is expected to be on par with the 2010 and 2014 mid-term elections.

About 32 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Kentucky’s 2010 mid-term election and 27 percent in the 2014 mid-terms.  This year, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is predicting turnout around 30 percent.  Her office tracks absentee ballot totals as an indicator of turnout on election day.  Grimes says she hopes this year’s primary bucks a recent trend of dismal participation rates.

"My hope is that folks realize that our elections should be determined by a majority of our electorate and not a minority, which is what we have had in the past," Grimes told WKU Public Radio.

Three Warren County Republicans are running for the southern Kentucky House seat held by Democrat Jody Richards since 1976.  Ben Lawson, Troy Brooks, and Todd Alcott are seeking the GOP nomination for the 20th District House seat, which covers part of Warren County including Bowling Green.

WKU Public Radio is introducing you to all the candidates on the ballot in next week’s primary election.  We previously reported on the five Democrats in the race, including Patti Minter, Slim Nash, Ashlea Shepherd Porter, Rick DuBose, and Eldon Renuad. 

A coveted seat in the Kentucky House will soon have a new representative for the first time since 1976.  Former House Speaker Jody Richards announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election. 

Ahead of the May 22 primary, WKU Public Radio is airing a series of reports introducing you to each of the five Democrats and three Republicans seeking to replace Richards.  Democrats Brian Slim Nash and Patti Minter were profiled in a previous story.  The remaining three Democrats in the race, Ashlea Shepherd Porter, Rick DuBose, and Eldon Renaud, are heard in this report.

When veteran State Representative Jody Richards announced earlier this year that he wouldn’t seek re-election, several political newcomers were waiting in the wings. 

Eight candidates are running for the Kentucky House in the 20th District, a seat that hasn’t been vacant in more than four decades. 

In the days leading up to the May 22 primary election, WKU Public Radio is profiling each of the candidates.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 1:40 p.m.:  According to the Kentucky Secretary of State's website, Republican Todd Alcott has withdrawn from the race.

Tuesday is the deadline for candidates seeking office this year in Kentucky to officially file to run, and there’s no shortage of candidates seeking the seat of long-time State Representative Jody Richards of Warren County.

The eight-person race for Richards’ seat in the Kentucky House features five Democrats and three Republicans.  Bowling Green City Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash filed his candidacy papers Tuesday to seek the Democratic nomination for the 20th District House seat.  He joins fellow Democrats Rick DuBose, a retired Assistant VP for Alumni Relations at Western Kentucky University, former Bowling Green Mayor Eldon Renaud, WKU history professor Patti Minter, and attorney Ashley Porter. 

City of Bowling Green

The field of candidates is growing to replace veteran State Representative Jody Richards of Warren County who will retire from the legislature at the end of the year.  A former Bowling Green mayor is expected to enter the race.

Eldon Renaud hasn’t made any official statements, but his LinkedIn profile says he’s a candidate for the 20th District House seat that represents part of Warren County. 

In a statement to WKU Public Radio on Tuesday, Renaud said that he understands the needs of Bowling Green and Warren County, and one of those needs is to protect pensions earned by public sector employees.

LRC Public Information

Former Kentucky House Speaker Jody Richards announced Monday he won't run for re-election this year, joining a growing list of veteran House Democrats planning to bow out of a chamber where Republicans are now in solid control.

The looming retirement of Richards, who served as speaker for 14 years, along with the departure of several other incumbents, means Democrats will have to defend those seats while trying to cut into Republicans' sizeable advantage in the House.


Western Kentucky University is renaming an academic building after a longtime Warren County lawmaker.

The school’s Board of Regents Friday approved renaming the Mass Media and Technology Hall after Jody Richards.

The Bowling Green Democrat has served in the Kentucky House of Representatives since 1976, and was House Speaker for 14 years—the longest anyone has ever held that position.

A statement from the university said Richards was instrumental in securing state funding to construct the Mass Media and Technology Hall, as well as at least seven other campus buildings.

A renaming ceremony will be held Thursday, May 4, at 1 p.m.

LRC Public Information / Bowling Green city government

Kentucky Republicans say this could be the year.  The GOP once again has its sights set on taking control of the state House for the first time in nearly a century.

One of the races in play is the 20th District which includes a portion of Warren County.  The two candidates are offering voters the choice between seniority and change.

At a recent event celebrating the expansion of the Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University, State Representative Jody Richards shook hands with many of those in attendance.

"How are you?  Doing alright today? Good to see you."

In fact, go to any public event in Warren County and Richards is sure to be there.  Richards is a 40-year incumbent and a fixture in Democratic politics.  His challenger is Republican Melinda Hill.

LRC Public Information

Warren County is well-represented in the Kentucky House this legislative session. 

Democratic State Representative Jody Richards was elected Speaker Pro Tem in leadership elections Tuesday.  Richards takes the number two spot from Larry Clark of Louisville who chose not to seek re-election to the post. 

Richards of Bowling Green is making a return to leadership, having spent 14 years as House Speaker.  He was defeated in 2009 by current Speaker Greg Stumbo. 

Richards told WKU Public Radio he looks forward to tackling the issues, both new and perennial.

"Education, human services, and transportation are issues that recur," stated Richards.  "Of course there are things like the local option sales tax that's fairly new, but generally, the issues are the same."

Another Warren Countian, Representative Jim DeCesare, was elected House Republican Whip.  He replaces Bam Carney of Campbellsville who decided not to seek another term as Whip.

Jenean Hampton

Veteran State Representative Jody Richards of Bowling Green is facing his first Tea Party challenger in the November election. Jenean Hampton is taking on the longest continuously serving state representative in Kentucky history. 

"There was much prayer involved. This wasn't my plan," said Hampton in an interview with WKU Public Radio. "Sometimes you're screaming at the TV, you see things that need to be improved, and you're screaming that someone needs do something, well sometimes that someone is you."

Hampton serves as chair of the Bowling Green-Southern Kentucky Tea Party. The 55-year-old Republican is an Air Force veteran and businesswoman who wants to use her private sector experience to spur economic development in the commonwealth.

In her first run at public office, Hampton is taking on political heavyweight Jody Richards who was first elected to the legislature in 1975 and served as House Speaker from 1995 to 2009. Over that time, he's become the recipient of several plum committee assignments, including Appropriations and Revenue.  Richards told WKU Public Radio that his influence in Frankfort could not be matched by a newcomer.

"No new person would have my committee lineup nor would they have the connections I do," he suggested. "I pride myself  in working well with both sides of the aisle."

Kentucky LRC

A Bowling Green lawmaker says a legislative redistricting plan under consideration would not place three southern Kentucky GOP incumbents in the same district.

A plan put forth by House Democrats earlier this year would have placed Warren County's Jim DeCesare, Brownsville's Michael Meredith, and Morgantown's C.B. Embry Junior in one House district. But Democratic Representative Jody Richards told WKU Public Radio that such a plan is no longer being considered.

"Now, C.B. Embry and Jim DeCesare may well run together, but most of that district would be in Warren County," said Richards.

Kentucky lawmakers will meet in Frankfort next month for a special session to draw new legislative maps based on the latest U.S. Census data. Both Richards and Warren County Republican Senator Mike Wilson told WKU Public Radio they believe lawmakers can get a deal done over the course of five days--that's the quickest a special session can start and finish under state law.

A Warren County lawmaker says he agrees with Governor Steve Beshear on the need to get legislative redistricting maps done before the 2014 General Assembly.

Bowling Green Representative Jody Richards told WKU Public Radio he hopes House and Senate leaders can come to an agreement on new maps ahead of a possible special legislative session this fall.

"I hope that everybody gets together, and that we do a five-day session, which is the quickest you can possibly do," said Richards. "We don't need to get up there and argue. Everything needs to be settled before we go."

Richards says two lawsuits filed against the state over the lack of a redistricting plan are adding to the urgency lawmakers feel about getting new maps passed. Those lawsuits were filed by a group of county clerks in northern Kentucky and the state chapter of the ACLU, and accuse the state of violating federal law by not having in place new legislative maps based on the latest U.S. Census data.