Story by Kelsey Watznauer, Chief Copy Editor
Republicans from across the region met for the West Kentucky Lincoln Reagan Dinner in the Curris Center Ballroom on Saturday in celebration and preparation for the primary and general elections to come.
Sen. Rand Paul headlined the sold-out event alongside several local Republican candidates. Paul’s main focus was the budget, nationally and locally. He said he believes in the individual more than the government and, therefore, a smaller government with minimized taxes.
“Frankfort has to set priorities because there’s only a limited amount of money,” Paul said. “If you don’t want to take it right now from higher education, where are you going to take it from?”
Paul said adding on to the current debt instead of cutting government costs is “just misplaced sympathy.”
We are being spent into oblivion and the loudest voices in support of more spending in Washington right now are Republicans, he said.
Prior to the dinner, more than 50 local high school and college students had the opportunity to sit down with Paul in a private session.
“He seemed very nice,” said Katy King, senior from Owensboro, Kentucky. “But I was so nervous I forgot to even mention that I’m the president of Mock Trials or anything.”
During their Q and A, students asked several questions about the presidential election and the time Paul spend in the race.
Paul said he has chosen not to endorse any candidate, but one of his biggest concerns is that Republicans won’t continue to win elections without diversity and without changing the dynamics of the party.
“Status quo and inertia is hurting us on both sides of the aisle,” Paul said.
James Comer, Jason Batts and Michael Pape, candidates for U.S. Representative in the First District, each spoke briefly, having first drawn swords instead of straws to determine their speaking order.
Candidates from eight Kentucky House and Senate districts were also in attendance and encouraged voters to get to the polls to give Republicans their best chance to gain majority in the House.
“We need west Kentucky solid red,” said Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray. “I ask you earnestly to support these candidates that are running with us tonight.”
For his contribution to the growth and leadership of the local Republican Party, Winfield Rose, professor of political science, was presented with the Pioneer Award on behalf of U.S. Congressman Ed Whitfield.
The Republican Party wouldn’t be what it is today without President Barack Obama, said both Rose and Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah.