In competitive state Senate race, Gregory and Wise rush to out-conservative the other

05/15/2014 10:26 AM

Both candidates in the Republican primary race in southern Kentucky’s 16th state Senate District have played up their conservative credentials over issues from guns to medical lawsuit reform to casinos.

First-term state Sen. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello and challenger Max Wise, a former FBI analyst who teaches at Campbellsville University, have both run to the right in the race that will determine the next senator from that district, which includes McCreary, Wayne, Clinton, Cumberland, Russell, Adair and Taylor counties.

But they mostly have fought on the margins essentially about who is more conservative on certain sub-points.

Gregory touts her endorsement from the NRA and plays up her position that she would vote against allowing a constitutional amendment regarding casino gambling to go to the ballot for voters to weigh in on. She said she’s confident the measure would pass if put to a vote. Wise opposes casinos but said he would have liked to see the measure go to the ballot to be done with it.

Wise, meanwhile, has criticized Gregory for walking out on a vote in February on a bill that would create medical review panels to evaluate and make recommendations on the merits of malpractice lawsuits against nursing homes.

Here’s where the candidates fall on that issue and others:

The two have traded criticism in forums across the seven-county district, which very well could hinge on Russell County — the most populous and essentially neutral territory between the two.

Gregory hails from the eastern part of the district in Wayne County and represented Wayne and McCreary counties in the House before winning a special election to the Senate in December 2012. Wise lives in Taylor County on the other end of the district and has ties through his wife to Adair County.

Gregory did get the endorsement of former Sen. Vernie McGaha of Russell Springs. She said she didn’t believe that endorsement played much of a role in McGaha’s decision to resign from the Legislative Ethics Commission last week before that commission took up the case against former Rep. John Arnold for a second time. McGaha had said he was disappointed in the commission’s handling of that case from the beginning and no longer wanted to be a part of it.


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