Paul endorses Shenita Rickman in 33rd Dist. state Senate race

06/06/2016 09:48 PM

LOUISVILLE — A newcomer to politics, Shenita Rickman, received the backing of Kentucky junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul on Monday in her efforts to defeat longtime Sen. Gerald Neal.

Rickman’s challenge to Neal represents the Kentucky GOP’s attempts to attract the African American population of west Louisville.

Republicans in the state Senate currently hold a supermajority in membership with 27 of the 38 members caucusing with the GOP. For Paul, his endorsement in the race is an attempt to make a “bigger, bolder, better” Republican Party.

“I think Democrats have taken west Louisville for granted. They say, ‘oh, all those people in west Louisville are always going to vote Democrat,’” Paul said. “Republicans have ignored west Louisville. So I want to pay attention. I want to compete for every vote, and by having our headquarters here shows we’re serious about it.”

“I want Republicans in west Louisville banging on doors and saying ‘look, the party of Lincoln is here we want your vote.’”

Rickman cleared the GOP primary with a 38 vote victory against John Yuen.

Majority Caucus Chair Dan Seum, R-Louisville, presented Rickman with a certificate certifying the votes, and calling on Republicans inside the Trinity Family Life Center, where the event was held Monday, to send more women to Frankfort.

Seum also took aim at Neal, the Minority Caucus Chair in the Senate, calling him excessively absent from his Senatorial duties — a charge Neal vehemently denied.

“I gotta beat this guy — this guy that’s got this job,” Seum told the crowd of approximately 50. “You know he has the absolute worst attendance record. And the days he does show up he shows up late. And I get tired of waiting on him. I don’t want to wait on him no more.”

In a phone interview, Neal said that this session he only missed two days when non-votes were held, and one of those was for a funeral. In the last several years, Neal said he did have a serious medical issue which did sideline him for a time.

“It has nothing to do with me,” Neal said of the attacks. “What this is really about is that they’re using Rickman as the instrument to divide the Black vote to ultimately shave off three or four or whatever percentage points. They know they can’t win the Black vote.

“They’re doing this laying the foundation for a long term strategy for attacking city hall, any other close races and possibly even in the presidential round,” he continued.

Rickman is also likely counting on the support of the Pastors in Action Coalition which has encouraged the community in recent elections to vote their values and not their party affiliation.

Pastor Jerry Stephenson of Midwest Church of Christ opened the event on Monday with a prayer and a call on the candidates to support the coalition’s agenda, which includes charter schools.

“I support the charter schools,” Rickman said in her speech. “I support the coalition. I support the efforts as far as our young people.”

Evoking local school choice options, Rickman said the responsibility for education falls on parents.

Paul offered his advice to Rickman as a candidate, calling her run for office “something new.”

“We need to say we need something new,” Paul said. “Shenita you’re going to have to go door to door throughout the community, you’re going to have to tell them ‘I’m for giving your child the same choice that the president’s kids get: public, private or religious.”


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