Tapp won’t seek re-election, endorses Paul Hornback

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By Joel Reichert

State Sen. Gary Tapp said Tuesday he would not be a candidate for re-election when his term expires in 2010.

“I’ve been there 12 years, and that’s pretty much enough,” Tapp said. “I want to spend more time with my business and with my family.”

Tapp, 55, a Republican from Shelbyville, has represented the 20th senatorial district for 8 years. That district includes Shelby, Bullitt and Spencer counties. Tapp served four years in the state House of Representatives before running for the Senate seat when it was vacated by former Sen. Marshall Long.

Tapp said that he is endorsing Shelby County farmer Paul Hornback for the seat.

“Paul is excited about it, and he will do a good job for the people.” Tapp said.

Hornback said he would file his election papers for the seat later this week, and he looks forward to the race.

“I had some encouragement from people to run,” Hornback said. “I’ve been around politics for the last 25 years in Frankfort and Washington. I’ve enjoyed the politics, and I think I can be useful to the area. And I listen to people. I think my values are the same as the majority of people in the district.”

Hornback is the owner of Hornback Farms, which produces tobacco, corn, soybeans and beef cattle. He is a director for both the Shelby County and the state Farm Bureau and has served on national Farm Bureau committees.

Hornback is married to Patricia, and they have two daughters, Stephanie Tucker and Amanda Gajdzik.

State Rep. Brad Montell, would have appeared to have been a natural to go after Tapp’s seat because he represents two of the three counties in the district, but he said he didn’t want the job.

“I talked about it with Gary on several occasions, but it’s not something I want to pursue,” Montell said. “That {seat} more than doubles the population of my district, and Bullitt County is 45 minutes away. I’ve got all on my plate I can handle right now.”

Tapp’s vacating the seat offers Democrats an opportunity to gain in the Republican-controlled Senate. Republicans currently enjoy a 21-16 advantage over Democrats, with one Independent, in the Senate.

But Tapp said that, excepting Hornback, he has no idea who might run for the 20th district Senate seat.

“I’m sure the Democrats will put somebody forward,” Tapp said. “But beyond that, I have no idea.”

Montell said Tapp’s leadership in the state Senate will be missed.

“We’re going to miss Gary,” Montell said. “He made some people mad along the way because Gary says what he thinks. But at the end of the day, he did a whole lot for his district.”