56th Dist. candidate Crews carves out casino position; Is leaving Midway College job

05/10/2013 11:35 AM

The entrance of an anti-casino independent candidate into an open Central Kentucky House race shouldn’t cut into the conservative base of voters in the June 25 special election, said Republican candidate Lyen Crews.

Crews, speaking to Pure Politics after a meet-and-greet in Frankfort on Thursday, said John-Mark Hack, a former Democrat running as an independent, might draw more support away from Democratic candidate James L. Kay II.

“I guess it takes two Democrats to beat a Republican,” Crews said.

Crews also confirmed that he is leaving his post as Midway College’s vice president for business affairs on May 31. He said he has accepted a position with the financial team of the online textbook company eCampus in Lexington. He said that opportunity came up independent of the 56th District race.

The winner in the special election in the 56th House District will replace Democrat Carl Rollins, who resigned when he was promoted to run the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. The district covers eastern Franklin County, Woodford County and western Lexington. It includes much of the heart of Central Kentucky’s horse country with some of the biggest thoroughbred stables and Keeneland Racetrack, which is why expanded gambling is a key issue.

Hack, the independent candidate, formerly served as the public voice for the group Say No to Casinos and opposes expanded gambling.

Kay told Pure Politics he wants to work with horse owners to determine what kind of expanded gambling proposal they want.

Crews said he would favor a constitutional amendment to allow gambling, which would require approval of three-fifths of each legislative chamber and ratification by voters. Here’s what he said:

Crews spoke with Pure Politics hours after Gov. Steve Beshear announced Kentucky would expand Medicaid to cover more than 300,000 more low-income Kentuckians who earn between the federal poverty rate and 138 percent of that rate. The federal government will cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years, then the state government will have to kick in 5 percent the first year and 10 percent by 2020.

While Crews said he understood the reasoning behind Beshear’s decision, he disagreed with the process. He said he would have preferred the legislature to sign off on such a big policy move with budget implications.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.


  • sam pierce wrote on May 11, 2013 12:20 PM :

    Good interview by Ryan and I liked Lyen Crews’s responses. Too bad it was pouring down rain outside. The fact that Crews is leaving his Midway College job to take on a job with a financial team of an online textbook company should give Crews more time flexibility to better perform his job as state representative for House District 56. If Crews keeps all his 2010 voters and Kay and Hack split the rest, we will have a Republican representative from District 56 which may force Stumbo and the Democrats to be less partisan in the redistricting special session coming up later this year.

  • Counterpoint wrote on May 13, 2013 02:59 PM :

    @Sam Except the Indie is very anti-gambling, which is a conservative (in KY, Democrats by and large support gambling, Republicans are split between evangelical opposition and moderate support) position, especially in an area that depends heavily on the horse industry. If he takes from anyone, it’ll be from the right flank of the electorate and a friend of mine whose a maven on KY/IN politics made the same judgement. The idea that Hack would take more from Democrats is puzzling. And as for redistricting, Dems already have a map (and they have one that counts federal prisoners on standby just in case the one they passed doesn’t pass muster, which is a grey area).

  • sam pierce wrote on May 15, 2013 12:23 PM :

    You may be correct, Counterpoint, but I hope not. As far as gambling, I do not gamble, but I believe people should be allowed to if the voters decide to allow it. Gamblers will find a place to gamble anyway, so it is best that they spend their money in Kentucky. I know there are one-issue voters, but I hope the gambling issue will not override all the other important issues we now face. As a Republican, I would like to see Crews win because I think the race could provide momentum for 2014. Also, if District 56 becomes Republican it would mean that someone could then travel from the Tennessee line to the northernmost point of Kentucky without ever touching land represented by a state house Democrat. Just start out on I-75 in Whitley County and go north through Laurel and Rockcastle counties, then northwest through Lincoln, Boyle, Mercer, and Anderson counties, then go through Woodford, Scott, Grant, and parts of Kenton and Boone, cross the Ohio on I-275, and you have not touched any Democrat state house territory. District 56 is the last piece of the puzzle. You would go through House Districts 82, 85, 80, 54, 55, 56, 62, 61, 69, 64, 60, and 66. We now have the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. After June 25, we could have the Kentucky House Republican Trail for all out-of-state Republicans to tour.

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