Democrat Linda Belcher triumphed in a special election on Tuesday night in a deep-red Kentucky district where President Trump previously won by a whopping 50-point margin.
Belcher defeated Republican Rebecca Johnson 68 percent to 32 percent— an 86-point swing from the 2016 presidential election result.
House District 49 voted overwhelmingly for Trump, by a margin of 72 percent to 23 percent. However, Belcher has previously represented the district and narrowly lost a re-election bid in 2016 by less than 200 votes (PDF).
The seat, located in Bullitt County, just south of Louisville, was vacated in December after former Rep. Dan Johnson, committed suicide just two days after being accused of molesting a 17-year-old girl. His widow, Rebecca, who has denied the allegations about her former husband, decided within a day to run for the seat.
In recent years, Rebecca Johnson got into hot water for her social media posts. That included a September 2015 post in which she advocated for a prohibition of Sharia law in Kentucky.
In 2016, her husband Dan Johnson went a step further, posting images of Barack and Michelle Obama on Facebook with ape-like photoshopped features. Additionally, he posted an image of a chimpanzee and labeled it as a baby picture of the former president.
“It wasn’t meant to be racist. I can tell you that. My history’s good there. I can see how people would be offended in that. I wasn’t trying to offend anybody, but, I think Facebook’s entertaining,” Johnson told a local television station WDRB at the time.
Shortly after the results came in, Johnson’s campaign manager blamed the candidate’s loss on voter fraud.
Belcher’s win marks the 37th legislative seat changing hands from Republican to Democrat since Trump’s inauguration. It is also the fourth to flip just this year, following wins by Margaret Good in Florida’s 72nd District last week as well as wins in deep-red Missouri and Wisconsin.