Republican attorney general candidate Whitney Westerfield on RAGA exit, campaign finance, experience and initiatives
10/19/2015 06:29 PM
With two weeks until the Election Republican candidate for attorney general Whitney Westerfield finds himself low on campaign cash and currently without the support of outside help, but he still has big plans for the future of Kentucky and his campaign.
Westerfield, a state Senator from Hopkinsville, is polling relatively even with Democratic opponent Andy Beshear, the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, but the Republican nominee could be facing his toughest weeks in the Election with the disappearance of a top supporting group.
The Republican Attorney Generals Association, an outside group backing Westerfield, has gone off the air two-weeks before the Election in Kentucky after spending more than $2 million in support of the candidate.
Republican insiders say the group will be back on the air before the campaign is over, but RAGA did not return a request for comment.
Westerfield reported raising less than $150,000 in his latest campaign finance report filed earlier this month, but with the outside group not running ads that leaves Beshear and an outside group supporting his candidacy all alone on the airwaves.
“Look at the numbers,” Westerfield said. “They haven’t moved the needle…They’ve poured a gajillion dollars into the race, and I’ll remind people I’ve raised about 150 grand…but I’m up against $2.7 million. You’d have to add up every other Democratic candidate together and you’d still be a million dollars short. That’s a Congressional campaign.”
Calling on Beshear to respond to the “obscene” fundraising totals, Westerfield said “people resent” his Democratic opponents fundraising tactics.
Responding to a question from Pure Politics, Westerfield said he thinks there are “some reforms” to consider when it comes to campaign finance.
Westerfield said he thinks outside super PACs like RAGA and the Democratic Attorney Generals Association will be in place, “until the Supreme Court changes its position on that.”
“I like that we can’t coordinate,” Westerfield said. “I don’t like it, because I wish I could tell them what to put into their ads, and what not to put into their ads. Sometimes I like their message and sometimes I don’t — whether it’s this race or any other — but I like there’s a line in the stand, and you can’t coordinate.”
But, he said, if there were higher limits to individual candidates that could provide some additional transparency to voters.
Donations to super PACs, like RAGA, which have been supporting Westerfield, can pile up unlimited contributions often from corporations, individuals and other groups.
Westerfield has been campaigning against federal government overreach listing “mandates like Obamacare or over-regulation by the EPA,” on his campaign website as areas the Attorney General can push back via litigation.
On Monday, Westerfield said he’s “not going to try and dismantle” kynect or the expansion of Medicaid, but he wants to dig deeper into where state resources are headed.
Pointing to numerous questions he has about the expansion of healthcare, Westerfield said there are “areas ripe for investigation,” but he does agree that care does need to come from somewhere.
“I think access to healthcare is very important, and you’re absolutely right that that cost has to be taken up somewhere, but if the facilities can’t afford to keep their doors open and then there’s no one there to provide care,” he said.
Structuring the AG’s Office
Westerfield says he would like to beef up the Cyber Crimes Unit, but when it comes to other areas of the office the Republican said he would need some time to investigate how dollars are doled out to departments within the office. (10:25)
“As any good administrator you get in there and you see where your resources are being spent, and you make a decision about whether or not they’re being efficiently spent,” he said.
Westerfield said the office “doesn’t have enough money,” but he said if elected, at least the first year, he would make do.
“I’ve pledged not to increase my budget request for that first year, because I don’t see everything and can’t until November 4th when I can see the internals of the office and understand where that money needs to go or should be going better,” Westerfield said adding that in future years he would be advocating for additional resources. (13:40)
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