Frankfort, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C. have something in common: They’re both broken.
As Vice President Joe Biden and Republican VP Nominee Paul Ryan get set to debate tonight in the Bluegrass State, GOPAC highlights the Top Races to Watch in the Kentucky State House. After 91 years of Democratic control, Republicans are looking for the opportunity to take control and fix it.
Like much of the nation, unemployment in the Bluegrass State has registered over 8% for 45 consecutive months. Since President Barack Obama was sworn in on January 20, 2009, Democrats in the Kentucky House, who hold a 58-41 majority, have proposed nearly two billion dollars in new taxes on everything from business to pensions to death. The state’s public pension exceeds $30 billion in unfunded liabilities, and with Democrats in full support of President Obama’s mandated health care, the state stands to add about 400,000 Kentuckians to the Medicaid rolls, meaning the state would have more people on Medicaid than students in grades K-12.
This year, all 100 seats in the State House are up for reelection. Needing just 10 seats to win majority control, Republicans are running 33 candidates in districts currently held by Democrats. GOPAC’s Top Races to Watch highlights five key GOP candidates battling to take over these seats.
As a sign of voters’ frustration with the failed policies of Democrats, a majority of voters in all five key districts chose to support “Uncommitted” rather than President Obama on the ballot in the 2012 Democratic primary.
Republicans know it’s time to send a message to the president and the Liberals in Washington by electing conservative candidates for office in the state, who will create jobs, hold the line on spending, and protect Kentucky values. Republicans are offering a bold alternative to the failed policies of the Left on the issues Kentuckians care about most: jobs and the economy, government spending, and health care.
A takeover in the House would give the GOP full control of the State Legislature, as they have held a majority in the State Senate since 1999. With Democratic Governor Steve Beshear reaching his term limit in 2015, Republicans this year can build a strong foundation in the Legislature to make 2013 a year of job growth and American values in Kentucky.
1. Richard Heath (R) vs Kelly Whitaker (D)
- House District 2: Graves and McCracken (part) Counties
- Voter make-up: 22% Rep — 73% Dem — 5% Other
- Open seat
Republican Richard Heath is running against Democrat Kelly Whitaker in this open seat in the 2nd House District where incumbent State Rep. Fred Nesler (D) is not running for re-election.
In contrast with the House Democrats’ commitment to higher taxes and government-mandated health care, Richard Heath is a small business owner who knows that lower taxes and less regulation are the only way to help create jobs and grow business.
Upon his decision to run for office Heath stated, “I have twenty-five years’ experience working with the public. I managed the Graves County Co-op store in Mayfield for thirteen years and have been the owner of Heath Building Materials Inc. for the last twelve years. I know firsthand about the challenges small business owners face and how to listen to what the people’s needs are and come up with a way to meet their needs. I look forward to being a part of the Kentucky General Assembly to address some of these issues.”
Richard Heath is a lifetime member of the MSU Agriculture Alumni Association, as well as a member of the NRA, Home Builders Association, the Associated General Contractors of Western KY, and Support Hope for Life in Mayfield.
2. Lynn Bechler (R) vs Raymond W. Giannini (D)
- House District 4: Caldwell, Crittenden, Livingston, and McCracken (part) Counties
- Voter make-up: 28% Rep — 66% Dem — 6% Other
- Open seat
The GOP looks for another pick-up in House District 4 as Republican Lynn Bechler faces Democrat Raymond Giannini in this open seat where incumbent State Rep. Michael Cherry (D) is not running for re-election.
Liberal policies have failed so badly here that 63% of voters in the Democratic primary chose “Uncommitted” over President Obama.
Lynn Bechler is a Certified Manufacturing Engineer, who led a career in aerospace and automotive industries prior to his joining IBM where he eventually retired.
He is running on a platform with three top priorities: promoting economic development and job creation, protecting coal and agricultural industries, and broadening educational opportunities in the state.
Bechler has been endorsed by the Commonwealth Policy Center, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and Kentucky Right to Life, of which he is a member. As a State Representative, Lynn promises to defend the rights of the unborn. As a member of the NRA and Gun Owners of America, he is also dedicated to the protection of the Second Amendment.
3. Kenny Imes (R) vs Hal Thomas Kemp (D)
- House District 5: Calloway and Trigg (part) Counties
- Voter make-up: 29% Rep — 63% Dem — 8% Other
- Open seat
Republican Kenny Imes served as a state legislator in the 1970’s, including his tenure as KY House Assistant Speaker Pro-Tem in 1978. Now he is running again, this time in House District 5’s open seat against Democrat Hal Thomas Kemp to replace retiring State Rep. Melvin B. Henley (D).
Outside of the Legislature, Imes has served his community for nearly five decades as a funeral director. His experiences in Calloway County and in state office provide him the knowledge necessary to get things done in Frankfort.
Kenny has been endorsed by Kentucky Right to Life, Take Back Kentucky, Concerned Taxpayers of Western Kentucky, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the Commonwealth Policy Center.
In his own words, “Kentucky State Government should always recognize and be cognizant of the tremendous debt the citizens of our Commonwealth and the people of the United States owe to the past and present members of our armed forces and should hold in utmost esteem those who have served to protect, preserve and defend our the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness so valued by our great nation.”
4. Tim Kline (R) vs Rep. John Arnold (D)
- House District 7: Daviess (part), Henderson (part), and Union Counties
- Voter make-up: 22% Rep — 73% Dem — 5% Other
- GOP challenging Democratic incumbent
Deemed a “rock star in the making” by The Kentucky Progress blog, Republican Tim Kline is challenging Democratic State Representative John Arnold in the 7th House District.
Although Rep. Arnold has served in the State House since 1995, 59% of Democrats here — displeased with the failures of liberal leaders — chose “Uncommitted” over President Obama in the primaries earlier this year.
Nominated by Senators Mitch McConnell and Wendell Ford to attend the United States Air Force Academy, Kline served five years in the U.S. Air Force before developing a career in law, which he currently practices in Henderson.
Tim Kline is running to create jobs in Kentucky, reform pensions to alleviate the more than $30 billion in unfunded liabilities, reform education to empower students to get jobs, and support the right to life. As such, he has been endorsed by Kentucky Right to Life PAC, Kentucky Realtors PAC, and received an “A” rating by the NRA.
Active in his community, Tim Kline serves on the Board of Directors of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Owensboro and is a member of the Owensboro Rotary Club.
5. Brian Linder (R) vs Wanda Crupper Hammons (D)
- House District 61: Gallatin, Grant, Owen Counties
- Voter make-up: 30% Rep — 62% Dem — 8% Other
- Open seat
As a Grant County Magistrate on the Fiscal Court (2nd district), Republican Brian Linder is running to reform the taxing authority of boards in the state.
Linder is running for the open seat against Democrat Wanda Crupper Hammonds in the 61st district where State Rep. Royce Adams (D) is not running for re-election. However, voters here are disappointed in President Obama and Democrats in the state, with 57% of voters supporting “Uncommitted” over President Obama in the Democratic primaries.
While Democrats in Washington and Frankfort have been enthusiastic about raising taxes, Brian Linder believes that too many unelected — and unaccountable — board members are setting county tax rates on Kentucky’s taxpayers. He is campaigning to change this and bring responsible solutions to the State House to grow business and create jobs in the Bluegrass State.
Brian Linder has been endorsed by the Northern Kentucky Business PAC as well as Kentucky Right to Life and Northern Kentucky Right to Life. He has also received an “AQ” rating from the National Rifle Association, the highest grade available for a candidate without a voting record.