One of the most conservative Democratic lawmakers, retiring Rep. Damron also was most prolific lawmaker

04/20/2014 10:36 PM

Perhaps no lawmaker better embodied Kentucky’s brand of conservative Democrats more than Rep. Bob Damron.

Damron, of Nicholasville, sponsored numerous NRA-backed gun bills, including Kentucky’s concealed carry law in the 1990s, as well as the 2013 “religious freedom” bill. That legislation broadly forbids government from infringing on a religion’s action. Some feared that could give people license to discriminate using religion as a defense.

But Damron also has been the most prolific lawmaker over the last two decades, getting more than 140 bills passed, not counting the measures he helped other lawmakers pass by attaching them as amendments to other bills.

In 2004, Damron joined five other Democrats in crossing party lines to stand with then-Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher during the governor’s announcement of his tax modernization plan. Other Democrats were livid at a caucus meeting later that day.

Damron then co-founded a caucus of conservative Democrats known as the Commonwealth Democrats. And less than a year after standing with Fletcher, that same Democratic caucus that chewed out Damron and the others elected Damron as Democratic caucus chair. He spent two years in that role before losing to Rep. Charlie Hoffman in the 2007 leadership elections, then won the seat back in 2009 for two terms before losing again to Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris.

A ferocious campaigner in his district, Damron easily beat back Republican opponents in a conservative district. But as he explains, he never considered switching parties to make it easier on himself in elections:

Damron is running for Jessamine County judge-executive in November. He is one of potentially three lawmakers running for county judge executive this fall. Sen. Walter Blevins, a Democrat who is not up for re-election until 2016, is running for Rowan County judge-executive. And Sen. Bob Leeper, an independent from Paducah, has filed papers outlining his interest in running for McCracken County judge-executive. He has until August to make his decision and turn in the necessary signatures for an independent candidacy.

(This is the 10th in a series of the 10 lawmakers who are not seeking re-election or are running for offices this fall outside of the legislature.)


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