Rick Johnson –Broad Jump from the Court to the Senate
Rick Johnson is a nice guy with a ready smile that belies a sharp mind and politically sharp elbows that will take a jab at an opponent when there’s an opening. He didn't’t have to use the elbows when he ran for judicial posts up until 2006. Running for a judge’s job prior to Supreme Court decisions that allowed judges more leeway in campaigning, judge candidates were a fairly sedate lot.
Former Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Rick Johnson is running against Carroll Hubbard (see related story on Hubbard) in the May 20th primary for a chance to defeat State Senator Ken Winters in November.
Attorney Rick Johnson has been a lawyer for over 28 years. He was Court of Appeals Judge Rick Johnson for fifteen years. He served on the Court from 1992 to 2006. He chose not to run for his seat on the Court of Appeals but for an open seat on the Kentucky Supreme Court. Circuit Court Judge Bill Cunningham (56th Judicial Circuit - Caldwell, Lyon, Livingston, & Trigg Counties) defeated him.
Both judicial candidates came to the attention of the state judicial ethics committee – Johnson for a television ad alleging Cunningham let rapists out of jail and Cunningham for statements he made on abortion. The Ethics panel didn’t censure either candidate, but expressed its displeasure in the media.
After the election, Johnson went into private practice and became a partner in the firm of Sales, Tillman, Wallbaum, Catlett & Satterley. Johnson has lived in Symsonia in GravesCounty all his life. He is married to Lucretia and has two college age children.
Johnson’s campaign theme seems to be that he will be the representative that is trusted in Frankfort – a direct slap at Hubbard. His website, RickJohnson2008 , lists reimbursement of counties by the state for use of their jails, affordable health care, and economic opportunities, as some of his goals.
His campaign is running television and radio spots and taking out ads in local newspapers. Johnson's television ads are crafted around the theme of trust for him in Frankfort, which will enable him to get things done for his district. His radio spot, a take-off on the game show “Jeopardy" - answers before questions, throws out positive answers about him and negative ones about Carroll Hubbard.
Johnson has name recognition and he is known throughout the district. Whether it is sufficient to overcome Hubbard remains to be seen. Without a vigorous head to head debate schedule, voters will not see the two candidates in head to head clashes.
Rumors that Governor Beshear recruited Johnson may have hurt him more than helped. Some county Democratic leaders are unhappy about "Frankfort" interfering in their state senate race. Whether the Governor was involved initially or not, he has not been out front with his support. With Governor Beshear's approval ratings hovering in Fletcher territory, that may be good news for Johnson.