Democrat picks up seat in special election for Kentucky legislature

(Reuters) - A Democrat easily won a Kentucky House of Representatives special election on Tuesday, the 37th U.S. legislative seat flipped to the party from Republicans since Donald Trump's 2016 election as president, the Democratic National Committee said.

Linda Belcher won by more than a 2-1 margin over Republican Rebecca Johnson, the widow of a Republican whose death in December led to the election.

Belcher had held the seat before being narrowly defeated by Dan Johnson as Republican Trump won the presidency in November 2016. In Kentucky's 49th House District, which is south of Louisville, Trump outpolled Democrat Hillary Clinton by 72 percent to 23 percent in the presidential vote.

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Dan Johnson, who had been facing sexual assault allegations, was found dead in mid-December of a probable suicide, a coroner said.

Belcher's election will not affect control of the House by Republicans, who hold 62 of the 100 seats.

"Congratulations to Representative-elect Linda Belcher on her victory in today’s special election, which flipped yet another Republican-held seat from red to blue in a district that Trump won easily in 2016," Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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