Letter from John Williams, Senior
Contrasting political ideologies between Democrat Sam Gaskins, from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Republican James Comer, from Tompkinsville, Kentucky candidates for Kentucky’s First vacant Congressional district seat were never greater than in their interviews with Evansville, Indiana, television channel WEVV in September.
Gaskins, an 11-year veteran who works in construction, spoke in self-assured, measured tones about issues in the District. His answers were well thought out reminiscence of Davey Crockett who said, “Be always sure you are right—then go ahead.” Comer, a former legislator and Agriculture Commissioner, bragged about being the fourth generation of his family to sit on the board of a Tompkinsville bank but appeared uncomfortable in the interview and often gave disjointed answers.
Gaskins talked about creating jobs for veterans and others by using public bonding to
rebuild the nation’s infrastructure as President Dwight Eisenhower did in creating the Interstate highway system in the 1950s. Comer, aside from claiming he single-handedly was responsible for legalizing hemp in the commonwealth, failed to address generating jobs in a district that has double digit unemployment and where many industries are closing.
Comer maintained coal was his No. 1 priority, but he’s waiting to see what position Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul want him to take on the federal government’s 1946 Krug – Lewis agreement to fund miners’ pension and health care.
Gaskins not only blamed McConnell and Paul for holding the UMWA funds hostage but
advocated using available clearer-burning coal technology to save what is left of the industry.
Comer, after he and his family took $200,000 in crop and livestock subsidies from the federal government, said farmers would have to find new markets for their crops since subsidies are no longer available but failed to elaborate on how to create those markets. Gaskins said that migrant labor helped farmers in the First District and that existing immigration laws, such as e-verify, should be enforced.
On the subject of special interests, Comer vowed he would not be influenced by lobbyists and PACs who have given him $200,000 in donations. Gaskins advocated the repeal of the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United, which held that the government cannot keep corporations or unions from spending money in political campaigns.
Gaskins’ experience in dealing with bureaucracies, such as the Veterans Administration, clearly gave him the advantage on health care, a subject Comer failed to address. “The fault with the VA,” Gaskins said, “isn’t the medical staff but the vast bureaucracy that is collapsing under its own weight.” He said the Affordable Care Act doesn’t need to be repealed but does need to be fixed.
“When I ask for your vote,” Gaskins said, “I’m asking you to hire me to represent you in
Congress simply as a man of the people, just like you.”