Jimmy Higdon

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Jimmy Higdon
President pro tempore of the Kentucky Senate
Assumed office
January 4, 2018
Preceded byDavid Givens
Member of the Kentucky Senate
from the 14th district
Assumed office
December 2009
Preceded byDan Kelly
Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives
from the 24th district
In office
January 1, 2003 – December 2009
Preceded byWilliam Scott
Succeeded byTerry Mills
Personal details
James Cecil Higdon Jr.

(1953-07-15) July 15, 1953 (age 66)
Taylor County, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Jane Miles
EducationMorehead State University (BS)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army

James Cecil Higdon Jr. (born July 15, 1953), known as Jimmy Higdon, is a businessman from Lebanon, Kentucky, who has been a Republican member of the Kentucky State Senate since 2009. He represents District 14, which until August 23, 2013 included Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor, and Washington counties in Central Kentucky.[1]

Under redistricting legislation signed by Governor Steve Beshear, Taylor County, where Higdon was born, was immediately removed from Higdon's District 14 and placed in District 16, then represented by Republican Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello in Wayne County. Higdon now has a vastly revised district: Casey, Marion, Nelson, and Spencer counties as well as a portion of Jefferson County. In addition to Taylor County and her own Wayne County, Gregory represented Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, and Russell counties. She lost the succeeding primary election to Max Wise of Campbellsville, now senator. [2][3] The Kentucky Supreme Court struck down the 2012 districting on the grounds that it did not comply with the federal "one man, one vote" concept.[4] Higdon said that he is "just really, really disappointed in the way that the plan worked out, as far as my losing Taylor County."[2]


The oldest of seven children of James Cecil and Alice Higdon, Jimmy Higdon was reared in Lebanon, Kentucky, where he graduated in 1971 from Marion County High School. In 1975, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in industrial arts technology with a minor in business administration from Morehead State University in Morehead in Rowan County in northeastern Kentucky. Thereafter, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army, trained at Fort Lee, in Prince George County near Petersburg, Virginia.[5]

In 1976, Higdon returned to Lebanon to become a partner in Key Market, subsequently Higdon's Foodtown IGA, or Independent Grocers Alliance.[5] On January 22, 2011, after three consecutive years of losses, Higdon's IGA closed. Higdon sold the business to Houchens Industries, based in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Houchens established a Save-A-Lot outlet at the former IGA location. Higdon compared independent grocers such as himself to "dinosaurs. There's a few less every." He continued to operate his Higdon's Appliance Service in Lebanon.[6]

Higdon is a former board member of the Lebanon Housing Authority, the Kentucky Grocers Association, and the Marion County Chamber of Commerce. He is affiliated with Rotary International.[1]

Higdon is married to the former Jane Miles, a native of Loretto, also in Marion County. The couple has two grown children, Brittany H. Nagle, and James Cecil Higdon, III.[7]

Political career[edit]

On December 8, 2009, Higdon, then a state representative, won a special election for Senate District 14. He defeated the Democrat, Jodie Haydon of Bardstown, Nelson County. Haydon is also a former member of the Kentucky House. The vacancy in the upper chamber of the legislature occurred when the Republican Senator Dan Kelly of Springfield in Washington County was appointed as a state district court judge by Democratic Governor Steve Beshear.[8] Elected the next year to a full four-year term on November 2, 2010, Higdon's first full term in office expired on December 31, 2014.[7] Beshear also appointed a second Republican senator, Charlie Borders of Russell in Greenup County in far northeastern Kentucky, to the Kentucky Public Service Commission, another state position with a generous retirement pension. In both cases, Beshear hoped to open two Republican Senate seats to possible Democratic victory but failed in that goal with Higdon's election. During his campaign Higdon opposed the generous pensions from which these senators benefit and vowed to try to repeal the higher pensions after he took office.[9]

In 2002, with a 45 percent overall turnout of registered voters, Higdon narrowly won election for the first time to the Kentucky House from District 24 for the position vacated by the Democrat William U. Scott.[10] Higdon defeated the Democrat Connie Sue Rakes, 5,911 (51.1 percent) to 5,657 (48.9 percent). Rakes had been unopposed for the Democratic nomination.[11] He was reelected in 2004, 2006, and 2008. District 24 includes Marion, Casey, and a portion of Pulaski counties. When he was elevated to the Senate, voters early in 2010 chose a Democrat, Terry Mills, also from Lebanon, to succeed Higdon in the House. Mills defeated the Republican Leo Johnson, 3,000 to 2,518 votes though Johnson had been an easy winner in his own Casey County.[12]

In 2008 in his last election to the House for the term which he did not complete, Higdon was endorsed by the Kentucky Education Association. He is also a past recipient of the Joe Kelly Education Award from the Kentucky Department of Education and holds the "Friend of Education" designation from the Kentucky School Board Association.[5]

A Roman Catholic,[7] Higdon carries the endorsement of Kentucky Right to Life. A backer too of the Second Amendment, he has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.[5]

In 2012 Higdon introduced Senate Bill 158 to exempt Kentuckians from state laws that contradict an individual's religious beliefs unless there is an overriding reason why such laws should be enforced. The media called it "Higdon's Sharia law" though he had intended it to protect Christians from secularism.[13]

In 2011, Senator Higdon called for tighter state regulations to prevent physicians from establishing temporary clinics from which they issue prescriptions to drug abusers. A "pain clinic" of this kind opened in Lebanon in 2010, but citizens complained of van-loads of people waiting in the parking lot to purchase prescriptions. As police began to investigate, the clinic abruptly closed; the doctor was since found with another such operation in Lexington, Kentucky. Many pain clinics are legal, but others have been questioned as "pill mills".[14]

Higdon supports allowing independent voters to cast ballots in major party primary elections. His legislation to accomplish that goal passed the state Senate in 2011 but was blocked in the House. Higdon said that many independent voters have told him that they are "taxpayers, they help pay for elections, so they should be able to vote" even if these persons declare no party allegiance. Higdon said the first party that voluntarily opens up its primary process to independents could enjoy an unfair advantage in the general election over the other party.[15]

Effective in 2013, Higdon assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee. He is also chairman of the budget review subcommittee on transportation of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Kentucky Legislature: Senator Jimmy Higdon". lrc.ky.gov. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Gregory is county's new senator: Higdon no longer represents Taylor County". Central Kentucky News-Journal. Retrieved August 27, 2013. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Calen McKinney, County could lose Higdon as senator, August 21, 2013". Central Kentucky News-Journal. Retrieved August 22, 2013. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ Brammer, Jack (August 15, 2013). "Senate GOP redistricting plan alters Central Kentucky districts but pairs no incumbents". Lexington Herald-Leader. kentucky.com. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d "About Jimmy Higdon". jimmyhigdon.com. Archived from the original on May 2, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  6. ^ "Stephen Lega, "Higdon's Foodtown closing Jan. 22: Save-A-Lot will move into Higdon's location," December 15, 2010". Lebanon Enterprise. Retrieved August 10, 2013. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  7. ^ a b c "Senator Jimmy Higdon". votesmart.org. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  8. ^ ""Haydon reports nearly $240,000 in state Senate race," November 25, 2009". bluegrasspolitics.com. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  9. ^ "Jack Brammer and Beth Musgrave, "Higdon proposes repeal of costly legislative retirement perk", December 20, 2009". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  10. ^ "Kentucky State Board of Election, Returns from November 7, 2000". elect.ky.gov. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  11. ^ "Kentucky State Board of Election, Returns from November 5, 2002". elect.ky.gov. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  12. ^ "Another Special Election Victory for Kentucky Democrats! , February 3, 2010". dlcc.org. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  13. ^ "Jimmy Higdon's Sharia law bill". bluebluegrass.com. Archived from the original on July 7, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  14. ^ "New pain-pill clinics in Ky. bring calls for tougher regulation: State legislators plan to tighten requirements for pain clinics, November 13, 2011". kentucky.com. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  15. ^ "Stu Johnson, "The Pros and Cons of Kentucky's Closed Primaries", May 9, 2011". publicbroadcasting.net. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  16. ^ "Higdon Appointed Chairman of the Veterans, Military Affairs & Public Protection Committee, December 13, 2012". jimmyhigdon.com. Archived from the original on May 2, 2013. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
Kentucky House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Scott
Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives
from the 24th district

Succeeded by
Terry Mills
Kentucky Senate
Preceded by
Dan Kelly
Member of the Kentucky Senate
from the 14th district

Preceded by
David Givens
President pro tempore of the Kentucky Senate