Reflections on Madison County Elections

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Reflections on Madison County Elections


The recent general election results triggered my memory of some county election history. With the election to the position of magistrate of Republican Greg King, the re-election of Republican Roger Barger and Billy Ray Hughes’ return to his former position of magistrate, the fiscal court now consists of these three, Democrat Magistrate Larry Combs, and County Judge/Executive Kent Clark, a Democrat.

This is a 3-2 majority for Republicans. This is the first time to my knowledge that Republicans have controlled Madison’s governing body, the fiscal court. In the days when there were eight county magistrates, it took five members to control the court, and to my knowledge the top previous count for Republicans was never more than three out of eight.

The election of Kenny Barger to the position of Madison County Clerk sends my memory back even father back. In the 1920s, Republicans would elect half or more of the county offices — such as clerk, jailer or sheriff. With the coming of the depression and the New Deal, this pattern ended and the Democrats routinely won all of the county positions.

Except for county judge — Republicans won that office in 1945 (J. L. Matherly), the 1960s (Charles Coy) and in more recent elections, Judge Harold Botner. Botner is the only Republican county judge who has ever won re-election. He lost a bid for a third term.

One other race is worthy of note — the election of the Republican Jared Carpenter as State Senator for our district. I believe this is essentially the same seat held a few years ago by Barry Metcalf, another Republican.

Over the years, I have written a number of articles about the Madison’s heritage of political activity. We are all rightly proud of our political heritage here in Madison county, be it Democrat or Republican. When I was growing up it was not always popular to be a Republican in this traditionally Democratic county and state. I hope you enjoyed this short if somewhat partisan discussion. I am Fred Engle, and I approve this message.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Reflections on Madison County Elections,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed March 3, 2024,