Three incumbent Jefferson County judges were ousted in Tuesday’s elections — including a surprise upset involving one of the 30th Judicial District’s longest-serving judges.
Incumbent Judge Sean Delahanty narrowly lost to challenger Lisa Langford, a prosecutor with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, earning just 49.45 percent of the vote to Langford’s 50.55 percent in the close 6th Division race.
Delahanty’s loss came despite a massive fundraising edge that his campaign held over Langford’s for the entirety of the race: According to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance’s most recently available records, Delahanty had raised a respectable $32,543.41 for the general election cycle, whereas Langford raised a mere $5,321.45.
Delahanty’s apparent edge also included high-profile endorsements, including Citizens for Better Judges, the Fairness Campaign, Better Schools Kentucky, Louisville Defender, Metropolitan Louisville Women’s Political Caucus and more.
But in the end, Delahanty lost by 2,327 votes, ending his judicial career just shy of what would have been its 30-year anniversary.
“I am very happy about my victory,” Langford told Insider Louisville, adding that she’s looking forward to serving Jefferson County. On the campaign trail, Langford criticized the current cash bail system, and attacked Delahanty over what she called “judicial hubris.”
In an interview with WDRB, Delahanty attributed his loss to a kind of sea change among the electorate, saying that this is “the year of the woman.”
In the 4th Division, incumbent Judge Todd Hollenbach IV lost handily to public defender Julie Kaelin, earning 37.10 percent of the votes compared to Kaelin’s commanding 62.90 percent. According to KREF records, Hollenbach, a former Kentucky state treasurer, gave $100,000 of his own money to his campaign. Kaelin, meanwhile, raised a mere $3,159.39 and was boosted by a variety of progressive endorsements.
And in the Circuit Court’s 2nd Division, Annie O’Connell, a criminal defense lawyer and daughter of Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, easily defeated Judge Darryl Scott Lavery, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Matt Bevin last year. O’Connell barely out-raised Lavery, with the most recent KREF records showing OConnell boasting a total of just over $70,778.26 compared to Lavery’s $64,338.70.
10th Division District Court Judge Derwin Webb emerged as the only male incumbent to hold onto their seat among Tuesday’s contested races.
Webb, who was appointed in 2017 by Gov. Matt Bevin, narrowly avoided a loss against Emily Digenis, an attorney for a private plastic surgery firm, 50.50 percent to 49.50. Digenis raised a massive war chest to unseat Webb, with the latest KREF records showing a hefty $190,037.77 in receipts. Webb, on the other hand, raised $42,024 and won by 2,229 votes.