State Sen. Reggie Thomas launches campaign for 6th Congressional District

07/01/2017 06:16 PM

LEXINGTON — State Senator Reggie Thomas became the first major Democrat to announce his plans to take on U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in the 6th Congressional District.

He touched on topics like health care, jobs, infrastructure and education before about 150 supporters at Lexington’s Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center on Saturday.

As Republicans in both chambers of Congress move their versions of health-care reform closer to President Donald Trump’s desk, Thomas bemoaned the state’s poor health statistics and said Barr, R-Lexington, “time and time again has sided with fat-cat insurance companies and recently voted to kick a half million Kentuckians off their health insurance.”

That’s a reference to the American Health Care Act, which would mandate that states which continue Medicaid expansion cover that population under traditional Medicaid rates. Some 400,000 Kentuckians enrolled in Medicaid after Gov. Steve Beshear expanded eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, in 2013.

“In the greatest country on the face of this Earth, no one, no one should die from preventable illness simply because some insurance company wants to pad its bottom line,” Thomas, D-Lexington, said in his remarks.

Thomas said he plans to go on a listening tour in every county of the district as he crafts a plan to top Barr in the 2018 election.

He said he’d been asked how he hoped to beat Barr as he contemplated entering the race.

“I have to say someone like Andy, who’s spent half of his entire life either working on a government job or seeking a government job, is going to be tough to beat,” Thomas said. “However, I’ve seen Andy’s type of government experience, and I think it’s time we elect someone with real-life experience.”

Barr campaign spokesman Rick VanMeter said that the three-term congressman “is not focused on the Democrats’ intra-party fight, especially a year before the 2018 primary election.”

“Instead, he is focused on fighting for the values and interests of the people of the Sixth District in Congress, keeping his promises and doing the job he was elected to do,” VanMeter said in a statement. “There will be a time in the future for politics, but now is the time to do the work of the American people.”

One name Thomas didn’t mention in his announcement speech: President Donald Trump.

Thomas says he’s not worried that evoking Trump’s name will hurt his prospects in the district, in which Trump won every county but Fayette in 2016.

“I’ve been out in those outlying counties. I’ve been out talking to those people, sitting down, meeting with them, listening to them,” he said. “My focus is on what Andy Barr has done to really hurt this district.”

Thomas estimates he’ll need $2 million for the contest, and he’s confident he’ll meet that fundraising goal.

He’s also not overlooking a potential Democratic primary, saying he’s not worried about whether Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who carried the district in his 2016 U.S. Senate campaign, decides to seek the congressional seat.

“I’m an announced candidate, and I’m going to run to win this congressional seat,” Thomas said.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath has launched an exploratory committee for the race, and former state Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, also has been mentioned as another Democrat eyeing the race.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135.



  • Geoff Young for Congress wrote on July 02, 2017 08:52 AM :

    Kevin, I respectfully demand a correction asap. I’m a Democrat who declared in January 2017, and you know it. For you to imply that I’m not a “major Democrat” but Reggie is a “major Democrat” is a gratuitous insult on your part. I respectfully demand a correction, an apology, and an in-depth interview by you or one of your colleagues. I know you have the time. Thank you for your consideration in this matter :)

  • I'm just saying wrote on July 03, 2017 11:41 AM :

    Who is this Jeff Young guy who keeps posting on all these news sights saying he’s running for everything from Congress to governor? Is it the same guy who got beaten so badly by Nancy Jo Kemper last year? If he can’t beat a little old lady who barely campaigned he needs to find a new hobby

  • Geoff Young for Congress wrote on July 05, 2017 11:25 AM :

    Reggie Thomas twice refuses to debate Geoff Young

    Media Release – For Immediate Release – July 5, 2017
    Lexington, KY

    Reggie Thomas’ campaign for the U.S. House got off to a disastrous start at the 4th of July Parade yesterday in Lexington. Once before the parade started and once at the Democratic Party booth after it ended, Geoff Young (D) pointedly asked him, “When and where is our first debate, Reggie?” Both times, Thomas said nothing, turned his back and walked away. Several Democrats witnessed both of Thomas’ hasty retreats.

    Young challenged him weeks ago to a series of 19 debates, one in each county in the Sixth District. Neither Thomas nor any member of his campaign team ever replied in any way.

    “This is the type of campaign strategy LOSERS use,” Young stated afterwards with a grin.

    Geoff Young has run against Andy Barr (R-al Qaeda) in 2014 and 2016, but he lost the Democratic primary both times to Establishment Democrats. “Elisabeth Jensen only debated me once in 2014 and refused all other challenges to debate. To refuse to debate is a dirty, unethical campaign strategy. Andy Barr wiped her out in the general election,” Young said.

    “In 2016, Nancy Jo Kemper debated me only twice and refused all other challenges. Barr wiped her out too. Kemper’s dirty and unethical campaign strategy against me deprived the voters of finding out which Democrat was better on the issues. Against Barr, she was a very nice, civil pushover. What a LOSER,” Young said.

    “I ran for Governor in 2015, and Jack Conway was too cowardly ever to debate me at all. He wasted $7.8 million and lost to Matt Bevin ®, who won 52.5 percent of the vote with Mr. Conway getting only 43.8 percent. Conway was an unbelievable LOSER. Sad!” Mr. Young said. Matt Bevin spent only $3 million to defeat Conway.

    Young concluded that literally any individual or group in the Sixth District could set up a debate, invite all the Democratic candidates, get a moderator and timekeeper, and hold the debate with whichever candidates showed up. “The failing Lexington Herald-Leader could sponsor all 19 debates, or 19 different groups could do it,” Young said. “The most logical approach would be for each county party to sponsor one or more debates in its own county. But I’m not sure they’re well-organized enough to mange that. The Democratic Party in Kentucky is pretty pitiful anymore,” Young concluded.

    For more details or an interview in any format, please contact:

    Geoff Young for Congress
    454 Kimberly Place
    Lexington, KY 40503
    Phone: (859) 278-4966
    Email address:
    Campaign web site:
    Or on Facebook –
    Donate via:

  • I'm just saying... wrote on July 10, 2017 07:29 PM :

    Well Jeff is probably right. If ANY Democrat in Kentucky is an expert and being a loser it’s Jeff Young.

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