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Tim Cocanougher of Springfield, candidate for the Circuit Court Judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit, District 1, withdrew his candidacy on Monday, citing a recent opportunity to continue his work conducting sexual assault investigations for the United States military.
A former Commonwealth's attorney, Cocanougher said his view of the judge's seat as a very respectable and highly esteemed position influenced his decision to file.
State Judge Advocate for the Kentucky National Guard, Cocanougher has served in the military for 34 years. Since last July, he has traveled all over the country as a sexual assault investigator for the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C.
"It came down to basically the more I do this, the more I love my job and I don't want to quit doing it," Cocanougher said. "If I were elected judge, I would have to give it up."
He said he greatly appreciated the dedication he received from his supporters, but that being selected by the National Guard to train other investigators shows him he is needed in his current position.
"I've got to determine where my passion is, and right now, that is assisting the military in any way I can," Cocanougher said.
Dan Kelly, who serves as a Circuit Court Judge for the 11th Judicial Circuit, didn't file for re-election. Taylor County's other circuit court judge, Allan Bertram, and incumbent district court judges Amy Sullivan Anderson and Connie Sullivan Phillips are unopposed for their seats.
Cocanougher's opponent, attorney Samuel Todd Spalding of Lebanon, now runs unopposed for the position on the November ballot. Spalding will be sworn in come January for an eight-year term.
Cocanougher said he has worked alongside Spalding for several years and considers him a friend.
"I've told people from the very beginning that Todd and I were friends, and that neither one of us had anything negative to say about the other," Cocanougher said.
He described Spalding as a competent attorney who will make a fine judge.
"Actually, knowing Todd made my decision to withdraw easier because I know that the 11th District is going to be well-represented," he said.
Spalding said he was somewhat surprised at Cocanougher's decision to withdraw.
"Tim is someone that's always been a friend of mine," Spalding said. "I know he had his reasons for withdrawing and I certainly respect that."
Spalding said Cocanougher has been a friend of his for a long time and will remain so.
"I'm obviously elated by the news. We have worked extremely hard on the campaign trail and I felt very good about where we were at in the race," he said.
Spalding said in his 23 years as an attorney, he has handled every type of case a circuit judge would expect to see, with the exception of medical malpractice. He said his strong belief that he was qualified for the position motivated him to run.
"As circuit court judge, I will do everything I can to reward the trust that people have placed in me," he said.