The highest-ranking Democrat in the state Senate turned back a challenge Tuesday in one of the most acrimonious, expensive primaries in the state.
Sen. Ray Jones, a Pikeville attorney who is the Senate minority leader, easily defeated Glenn Martin Hammond for the 31st District nomination.
Hammond also practices law in Pikeville and was making his first run for public office.
Jones and Hammond each had tried to link the other to President Barack Obama, whose environmental policies many in the district blame for a sharp decline in the coal industry that had riddled the economy with job losses.
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They had also thrown sharp elbows in other advertisements.
Hammond accused Jones of conspiring with a utility-management company that has been controversial. The company was managing Pike County’s water district when it received a large rate increase last year.
Jones hit back with an ad saying Hammond had been financially irresponsible, citing tax liens against the challenger and checks Hammond sent to pay his city occupational taxes that bounced.
Jones, who has held the seat since he was first elected in 2000, reporting outspending Hammond by a margin of $404,000 to $80,125 as of early May.
No Republican filed for the general election.
The district is made up of Pike, Martin, Lawrence, Elliott and Morgan counties.