Democrats and Republicans covet 70th district House seat

10/06/2016 04:01 PM

The 70th district House race features two candidates who have definite priorities that they want to deal with if they get to Frankfort.

Republican John VanMeter, a Maysville attorney, opposes Democrat John Sims, a Fleming County magistrate and business owner in the open seat election.

When Democratic 70th district State Rep. Mike Denham announced that he would not seek re-election, both state Democrats and Republicans eyed the seat, which comprises Bracken, Fleming, Mason, and Robertson counties, as a potential opportunity for pick-up.

Democrats want to hang on to the district and protect their slim majority, while Republicans see it as a possible gain in their attempt to flip the House in their favor in 2016.

For VanMeter, running for the job is the result of a dilemma facing one of his family members, who is a school teacher worried about her pension.

“My aunt is a retired teacher, and I started looking at the debt of our retiring teacher’s pensions and the KRS, and noticed that it was $35 billion in unfunded liability,” VanMeter said. “I couldn’t sleep at night, so I wanted to get into this race to help those people.”

Sims sees himself concentrating on several issues.

“State pensions and teachers retirement, that’s the biggest one, creating jobs for economic growth, the drug issue, you know heroin is running wild up in this area, and education,” Sims said. “I have three young daughters, they’re all in elementary school, and we need to keep funding education for their future.”

Both candidates have benefited from assistance from their respective parties, bit Sims said his approach is to run his own campaign and not be openly connected to any other candidate, including Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I’m running my own campaign and doing my own thing, and I’ve had great feedback from community support throughout the four-county region,” Sims said.

VanMeter disputes other state Democrat candidates who try to separate themselves from Clinton.

“The local Democrats have always been seen as a difference between your local Democrats and your federal Democrats, and we’re trying to say that it’s really not that way anymore,” VanMeter said. “For instance, Hillary Clinton just donated about $795,000 to the local races, to the Democrat party.”

The money VanMeter referenced was $793,000, and only passed through the Kentucky Democratic Party from the Hillary Victory Fund to the national Democratic Party.

Sims has some concern that the expected success of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Kentucky could be a factor in the race, while Van Meter says that he is stressing to voters that it’s time to give Republicans control of the House after Democrats have controlled the chamber since 1921.


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