The Richmond Register


October 15, 2012

Barr speaks as GOP opens party headquarters

Political season in full swing

RICHMOND — Andy Barr, Republican candidate for Congress in the Sixth District, got a rousing welcome to Richmond on Friday as he helped his party open its Madison County headquarters.

A crowd of the GOP faithful, enthused by the performance of Paul Ryan, their Vice Presidential candidate in the national debate at Danville the night before, turned out to greet Barr. They packed the upper-story walkway outside an office in the University Shopping Center.

Vice President Joe Biden “pointed fingers,” generating “a lot of heat but not a lot of light” as he debated Ryan, Barr said.

“That’s what happens when you don’t have a record to run on,” Barr said to loud cheers, “You just yell and scream and point.”

In contrast, Ryan “gave us a vision and a choice,” Barr said, the same kind of choice that voters have in his race.

One choice is to stay on the current path, one of “debt and decline” in a “government-centered society” with government bureaucrats “in charge of your health care,” Barr said.

He and other Republicans offer a future of free enterprise, inexpensive electricity and more jobs, including Kentucky coal miners who need work, said the candidate who wore a black “Friends of Coal” vest.

Barr said Chandler was running “vicious” television ads because “We’re winning, and we’re gaining momentum.”

Democrats as well as Republicans are supporting him, said Barr, referring to Chandler as a “career politician.”

Barr was introduced by Ralph Hacker, Richmond native and former voice of the Kentucky Wildcats.

Hacker told the crowd of a past run-in he had with Barr’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Sixth District.

In 1990s, when Hacker and former Richmond Mayor Connie Lawson served on the Kentucky Lottery Board, Chandler, a former state auditor and attorney general, asked a grand jury to investigate members of the board, Hacker said.

He said Chandler and his uncle had been pressuring the board to have a Las Vegas casino run the lottery. However, when the grand jurors learned what was happening, “they dang near indicted Ben Chandler,” Hacker said.

Hacker said he had worked with Barr when he was a state government official, and “There is not a bad bone in his body.”

Before agreeing to support Barr in his first race for Congress, Hacker said he would do so only if the candidate promised to give Madison County and Eastern Kentucky University “the same and equal treatment” as he would give Fayette County and the University of Kentucky. Barr agreed, Hacker said.

After Barr concluded, master of ceremonies Kelly Wallingford said, “Let’s make Ben ‘unhappy’ Chandler.”

Two of the Republican candidates for Madison County’s three legislative seats were present and briefly addressed the crowd.

State Rep. Donna Mayfield, R-Winchester, who is completing her first term in Frankfort, said she was being opposed by a “liberal, career politician” in her bid for re-election.

She also has been the subject of televised attack ads, Mayfield said, because she is the first Republican ever to win election to the 73rd District seat  that includes northern Madison County.

One ad accuses her of “protecting the pushers,” Mayfield said, because she did not support the so-called “pill mill bill” that she said “has tied the hands of our doctors” and is preventing law-abiding citizens with chronic pain conditions from getting needed medication.

She is a conservative running to stop “the silliness in Frankfort,” Mayfield said.

Bills completed at 3 a.m. are dropped on legislators’ desks at 10 a.m., she said. “Then we’re asked to vote on them an hour later.”

Jonathan Shell, candidate in the 36th District that includes eastern, western and southern Madison County and all of Garrard County, said Republicans this year have a chance to win control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in 91 years.

If elected, Shell promised not to “sit on his hands” but to take up “the hard issues” that are facing Kentucky. The state pension systems have a $34 billion unfunded liability, he said.

“That’s got to change or we’ll bankrupt the system or face massive tax increases,” he said.

A tax reform panel appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear is looking for new things to tax, including groceries, which are now exempt from sale tax, Shell said. “True tax experts” who can give market-based advice need to be assigned to study tax reform, instead of politicians, he said.

The marketplace, and not government bureaucrats, should decide winners and losers.

Mary McGill Long, Republican candidate in the 81st legislative district, did not attend the opening. Wallingford, who introduced Mayfield and Shell, did not mention Long or explain her absence.

Barr twice mentioned Shell in his remarks, but not Mayfield or Long.

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