Murray State student Wesley Bolin announced his candidacy for Congress from Kentucky’s First District.
Bolin, 25-year-old Democrat and history major is the son of history professor Duane Bolin. He also works full-time in Pogue Special Collections Library.
Bolin plans to take a leave of absence from his job at Pogue after the primaries, so he can reach out to the 35 counties in Kentucky’s First District. University policy allows for public service leave of absence with Board of Regents approval. Bolin said it’s a policy that hasn’t been taken advantage of for quite some time.
One of Bolin’s co-workers at Pogue, Christie Leith, senior from Benton, Ky., may not vote for Bolin, but has positive words about the student candidate.
“I’m not a Democrat, but I’m very excited for Wesley because I know he’ll do a great job,” Leith said.
When asked his reason for running, Bolin references a favorite television drama.
“My sister and I love watching The West Wing,” Bolin said. “There’s a scene where one of the characters is convincing Martin Sheen to run for president and says he’s tired of choosing between the lesser of “who cares”. In my age range there is a lot of dissatisfaction with politics and congressional ratings are really low. Instead of talking big talk, I think this is the best way to send a message that the individual vote matters, by running.”
Juggling his coursework, full-time employment and a political campaign is proving a little tricky without a staff, Bolin said. He sends emails and makes phone calls on lunch breaks, and is getting help from his sister, Cammie Jo, 19-year-old Centre College student.
Murray State senior Chelsea Scaturro, from St. Louis, Mo., has heard there is a Murray State student running for congress. Although she doesn’t know the candidate, she thinks it’s great that a student is running for office.
“There are probably people more qualified to run, but you have to start somewhere,” Scaturro said.
The first issue Bolin is focusing on is raising the minimum wage. He said it’s a very hot issue, especially since President Barack Obama promoted it in the State of the Union Address last week. Bolin said that more than 300,000 Kentuckians would get that raise. He is one of those people.
“Raising the minimum wage is important to me because I’m working hourly and my friends are working hourly, and I know how impossible it is to make it even working full-time at minimum wage,” Bolin said.
Bolin’s father has spent his career writing about Kentucky political history. The senior Bolin is rallying behind his son’s campaign.
“His mother Evelyn, his sister and I are all very proud of him,” Bolin said.
Both father and son hope the Murray State community will rally to support one of their own.
“Maybe people will get out and vote who don’t normally, because a person in the same walk of life as they are is running,” Bolin said.
Desiree Isaac, president of the Murray State College Republicans, acknowledges Bolin’s candidacy but still supports her party candidate.
“While Bolin is a student of and works at Murray State, I will fully support Representative Whitfield in the 2014 election,” Isaac said. “Bolin will face a strong challenge if he wins the primary and I look forward to the campaign and learning more about the candidate as the election approaches.”
Bolin seeks to follow in the footsteps of previous Kentucky politicians Alben Barkley, former vice president of the U.S. and Albert “Happy” Chandler, former U.S. senator.
With voter registration 2-to-1 democrat, Bolin said that this area especially has a great democrat tradition. Before Rep. Whitfield, there has never been a republican representative serving the First District.
“There’s a lot to be proud of and excited about historically,” Bolin said. “I think about this a lot as a history student and the son of a history professor. What I am doing is not really unique, it’s just something we’ve gotten away from in the last couple of decades.”
Story by Lori Allen, Staff writer