Somerset attorney Paul Henderson came up short in his bid for a seat on the Kentucky Court of Appeals, placing fourth among six candidates in a 27-county race.

Although Henderson carried his home of Pulaski County by an impressive margin with 49.38 percent of the local vote (Jeff Eastham of Greensburg was second with 10.79 percent), he received only 14.2 percent of the vote among all counties, with 7,277 votes total.

Fort his part, Henderson was both reflective and gracious in defeat.

“You have to go in with the attitude that you may not win, give it your best shot, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work,” said Henderson. “I met a lot of interesting, nice people along the way, and I don’t feel bad for doing it.”

The race for the Third Appellate District Division 1 judgeship is non-partisan. Michael Caperton of London won with 26.2 percent of the vote — appropriate, since the candidates were trying to fill the seat left by London’s own Judge Robert W. Dyche III, who retired last June and left the vacancy.

Aside from Caperton, the vote was a close one. Henderson’s opponents included Clay Bishop, Jr. of Manchester (who finished second at 17.1 percent), Larry Conley (third, 15.1 percent), Eastham (fifth, 13.9 percent), and James Howard of Edmonton (sixth, with 13.5 percent of the vote).

Franklin Stivers of London, Marcia Smith of Corbin, and Michele Wilson of Whitley City all withdrew from consideration prior to the election.

It’s not surprising that each candidate might get big numbers in his or her own home county, much like Henderson did, but the other counties were up for grabs. One factor that could have influenced the vote was ballot position — Henderson pointed out that Caperton was listed first on the ballot in the various counties.

“I’m not saying things would have turned out any differently, but it certainly is a factor, especially in a race with a bunch of names,” said Henderson. “It would be interesting to run it again and see how it would turn out (with the names) rotated among the 27 counties.”

Another problem for Henderson could have been his campaign. Henderson admits the duties his law practice demands of him combined with other life issues might have distracted him from putting everything he could into campaigning, although he said he doesn’t think that made a substantial difference.

As reported yesterday, Henderson had challenged Howard on his assertion that the latter had a year of experience already on the Court of Appeals and that he was the only candidate endorsed by anti-abortion organization Kentucky Right to Life. Howard had served only a little over three months in the position, and both men, along with Eastham, had Right to Life approval.

This was Henderson’s second attempt at an elected judgeship; shortly after coming to Somerset, he was beaten by current Family Court Judge Walter Maguire in 1989 for a seat on the District Court bench. He has also been in the running for appointments to three other judicial vacancies.

Henderson wouldn’t say whether or not he is interested in pursuing judgeships again in the future, only saying that time will tell, and that for now he’s focused on getting back into his office full-time and “playing a little golf from time to time” — something he says he hasn’t been able to do as of late.

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