Teacher beats Kentucky House Majority Leader in primary election

Published: May. 22, 2018 at 9:12 PM EDT
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A teacher has defeated the Kentucky House Majority Leader in the Republican primary race for the 71st district.

Travis Brenda, a math teacher for 19 years at Rockcastle County High School, defeated Jonathan Shell (R-Ky.) Tuesday evening for the party's nomination.

Shell is from Lancaster, Kentucky, and is among the most prominent lawmakers in the state house.

It was a close race. Brenda won 51% of the votes and Shell won 49%. Only 123 votes separated the two candidates.

Brenda is one of 40 educators running for seats in the Kentucky Legislature. He says he has previously voted for Shell before deciding to run against him.

The primary comes on the heels of a controversial legislative session, which saw the passing of a pension reform law which will move new teacher hires into a hybrid plan that puts less risk on the state but doesn't guarantee them the same benefits.

WKYT reports that Brenda calls the reform effort a "mess," but Shell says it was necessary to help save what some call the worst-funded pension system in the country.

Mary Renfro is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.