4th District Profile: Thomas Massie's brand of politics picks up support, not friends

05/18/2012 06:12 PM

(SEVENTH IN A SERIES) — In his first year as Lewis County judge-executive, Thomas Massie’s goal was to root out waste, which, he decided, included ending the long-standing practice of free delivery of parking lot gravel for organizations like the Tollesboro Lions Club.

That didn’t sit well with some in Lewis County. And that’s OK with Massie.

“I could not find a legal basis for using taxpayer money to support these private organizations, so I put a halt to it. Of course you’re going to upset people,” he said. “It’s certainly not a good way to get re-elected.”

Massie also talks proudly about his clashes with magistrates on the fiscal court. After all, his first introduction to many of them was in 2007 when he led a group called “Thomas’s Angry Mob” that attended meetings to speak against proposals that would increase certain taxes. Massie said that they weren’t angry and they weren’t a mob — they were simply the most informed people in the county.

Throughout the campaign, Massie has pushed that narrative, along with his background as a local-boy-done good, who went off to college at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, helped found a technology company and returned to raise his family in Lewis County. All of that has helped him win fervent support from tea party activists, the backing of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and the campaign muscle of a libertarian-leaning outside group founded by a Texas college student that has pumped nearly $600,000 into the race on Massie’s behalf.

And Don Weber profiles Massie’s brand of politics in Lewis County:

The Liberty for All Super PAC that is backing Massie has spent the sixth most of any Super PAC this month, according to Politico. can raise unlimited money from individuals and corporations and spend it to support or oppose And it was the second most in support of a single congressional candidate, following the National Association of Realtors Congressional Action PAC’s $1.03 million on behalf of Republican Congressman Gary Miller of California.

The Liberty for All group has change the complexion of the race by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to spread Massie’s name on TV and radio across the district, including the expensive Cincinnati and Louisville media markets. It has also distracted Massie’s chief rivals, Alecia Webb-Edgington, who have criticized the messager more than responding to the message in recent days.

The group’s presence has fed one narrative Moore and Webb-Edgington have pushed separately about Massie — that he’s more of a libertarian than a Republican. Moore, for instance, has pointed to a screenshot of Massie’s campaign website from February that said he considered abortion a state’s rights issue.

Massie, meanwhile, has campaigned out of a base in Florence — more than 90 miles away from Vanceburg. He said he spends a total of 90 hours a week between running for office and running the county, sometimes remotely.

On the issues, Massie talked in his first TV interview on Pure Politics in January about federal spending, taxes and Social Security. In a second segment, about his philosophy and positions on the federal government’s role in drug and energy policy.

And after an April 25 debate in Oldham County, he talked foreign policy, saying he doesn’t favor reducing military spending and would prefer more spending on domestic defense:

For more on the issues, you can watch how the 4th Congressional District Republicans compare on education, philosophy, federal spending and Medicaid in their April 30 debate at Northern Kentucky University and an April 25 forum in Oldham County.

(Throughout the week, Pure Politics is airing profiles of the candidates running for Congress in Northern Kentucky’s 4th District for the open seat being vacated by Congressman Geoff Davis. The candidates include Massie, Walt Schumm , Gary Moore , Brian Oerther , Alecia Webb-Edgington , Marcus Carey ,“and Tom Wurtz”:http://mycn2.com/politics/4th-district-profile-tom-wurtz-spreads-unique-views-of-shrinking-government-one-click-at-a-time , as well as a profile of the Democratic primary between Bill Adkins and Greg Frank.)

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.

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