4th District GOP candidates make conservative vows during campaign's early honeymoon period

02/21/2012 06:14 AM

For Republican voters in the open 4th Congressional District, this is the happy time in which all the suitors are attentive, try to say the philosophically “right” things and are politely wary of each other but not yet outright bashing each other.

But with just three months until the May 22 primary and a race featuring seven candidates — all of whom start with less than 5 percent name recognition, as one of them put it — Northern Kentucky Republicans might want to enjoy this period of detente while it lasts.

Six of the seven candidates showed up to the Shelby County Lincoln Day Dinner at Claudia Sanders Dinner House on Saturday. Shelby County is one of the newest areas of the 4th Congressional District after lawmakers included it in the recently-approved redrawn congressional map.

Each candidate got five minutes to introduce themselves to the roughly 250 GOP faithful in attendance.

And all of them underscored their desire to go to Washington to do some combination of the following: reduce government spending, curtail “over-regulation,” impose term limits, empower the free market and bring business principles to government. All of them played up their respective backgrounds, particularly the parts that enabled them to qualify for “outsider” credentials whether they currently serve in elected office or not.

As a result, the reviews from Shelby County GOP voters were largely positive, if non-committal. Mandy Connell, the 84-WHAS radio host who served as keynote speaker for the dinner, described the candidates as “an embarrassment of riches.” Shelbyville’s state Rep. Brad Montell also called it a “rich field” and noted that he’s staying neutral — he serves in the state House with Alecia Webb-Edgington but his son is going to work for Gary Moore’s campaign.

A breakdown of the main messages from each of the candidates:

  • Tom Wurtz, a business consultant and tea party activist, spread his frustration at government beyond the ripe target of Congress, for which he is running, to the General Assembly in Frankfort:

  • While diminutive in stature, State Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington of Fort Wright, highlighted her penchant of standing up to big guys. And she laid out her platform of calling for term limits (five two-year terms for U.S. House members and two six-year terms for senators) and a “flatter” tax code. She later said that meant closing loopholes — not one flat income tax rate.

  • Lewis County Judge-Executive Thomas Massie highlighted his job creation as an M.I.T.-educated entrepreneur before entering politics in 2010. Massie, who has been in the race for more than a month, gave his standard stump speech. Afterward, he said in an interview that he expects to have the three tools a successful candidate needs:

  • Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore mentioned his 30 years in the private sector, although he has served as the top official in Boone County since 1999. He said in an interview after his speech that he believes he highlighted a set of values that others didn’t play up:

  • Walt Schumm, an Oldham County developer and realtor, filed just before the 4 p.m. candidate filing deadline on Friday. In his first speech as a candidate, he outlined his background and outsider credentials, although he serves as vice chairman of the Oldham County School Board. He said in an interview that one of the reasons he filed relatively late was that he saw an opportunity when the new map added Shelby, northern Spencer and Eastern Jefferson counties to the 4th District:

  • Brian Oerther, like the others, took a fair share of jabs at government, although he does draw a paycheck from taxpayers as a teacher in Jefferson County (though he lives in Oldham County). Oerther blasted “crazy checks” — a reference to Social Security benefits for children who have disabilities, including Attention Deficit or Hyperactivity Disorder.

A seventh candidate, lawyer and conservative blogger Marcus Carey, did not attend the dinner.

The seven candidates are vying to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, who decided not to seek a fifth term this year. Two Democrats also have filed for the district, which is a reliably Republican-performing district.


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