Jim DuPlessis’ recent announcement of plans to step aside from his position in the state House of Representatives at the conclusion of his fourth term has created a buzz in some political circles.
An open legislative seat typically gives rise to speculation about political interests and aspirations around the community. While it may be weeks or months before any names are known, this is an appropriate time to remind would-be officeholders that all 100 seats in the state House will be open in the 2020 election cycle as well as half of the state Senate.
That’s the system we are blessed to have at the federal, state and local levels. Elected officials can be replaced at regular intervals.
While its commonplace to think incumbents have a lock on the job, that’s often because capable, informed candidates with a network of support fail to file. The name recognition and ability to more easily do fundraising causes people to see incumbents as unbeatable.
DuPlessis did not feel that way in 2014 when he first won the 25th District seat.
He defeated Jimmie Lee, an 11-term incumbent, who had developed strong ties to what then was a Democrat majority leadership in the House. Lee served capably and well. But DuPlessis entered the race, focused on his issues, rallied his support and won.
And his experience is not isolated locally.
• Josh Calloway defeated incumbent Dean Schamore for the 10th District House seat last November.
• Two years earlier, Nancy Tate took the 27th District seat from long-time officeholder Jeff Greer in a race with 13,870 votes cast and a six-vote margin of victory.
• Brandon Reed of Hodgenville took the three-county 24th District seat from incumbent Terry Mills in 2016 and twice has held off attempts by Mills to regain the office.
All those upset winners were Republicans in an era when the local electorate seems more conservative, you might note. But we’ve seen it go the other way locally as well.
Elizabeth Tori was the Republican senator serving Hardin County when Dennis Parrett decided to step into politics for the first time in 2010. He took the seat with 51.7 percent of the vote and the GOP couldn’t find anyone to challenge his re-election four years later.
The message here seems clear. We don’t need term limits as much as we need strong, well-financed and well-informed candidates.
And fresh faces have no trouble remembering they are in Frankfort to serve the people back home who put them there against the odds.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.