March 29, 2016
After an unopposed 2014 election, Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray, will face Calloway County’s Democratic Party chairman David Ramey in the race for Kentucky’s 5th District state representative in the November general election.
“We don’t have the representation in Frankfort that we need,” Ramey said. “We don’t have someone who’s looking out for us.”
Imes has represented Calloway County and parts of Trigg County since November 2012 in a district with 58 percent registered Democrats and only 33 percent Republicans, according to the Kentucky State Board of Elections.
“Anybody, I think, would understand that the country as a whole does better economically when Democrats are in charge,” Ramey said. “The Democratic Party is still the best hope for working men and women.”
Western Kentucky is a historically-Democratic region, but the extremes have lessened substantially in the past 30 years, Imes said.
“About 10 percent of Democrats are hardcore Democrats and about 10 percent of Republicans are hardcore Republicans,” he said.
The Kentucky House of Representatives is currently the last Democrat-controlled legislative body in the south. Imes is one of 17 Republicans defending House seats in the general election.
“We’re closer than we ever have been before, and this November, we’re going to flip the House,” said Sen. Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz.
On Saturday, March 5, Imes met with voters at the Kentucky Republican caucus. He said about two-thirds had previously been registered Democrats, and they leaned toward conservatism, fiscally and religiously.
According to AP caucus results, presidential candidate Donald Trump won the plurality among Kentucky Republicans with 35.9 percent, but in Calloway County, Sen. Ted Cruz received the most votes, getting 37.3 percent.
“In western Kentucky, we put a lot of faith in people,” Imes said. “They’re not necessarily Hillary [Clinton] or Bernie [Sanders] Democrats, and the Republicans in this region are not necessarily Trump Republicans.”
The 5th District is home to Murray State University. Both candidates have made it a priority to address Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts that will potentially cut higher education funding by 4.5 percent by the end of June and 9 percent in the next fiscal year.
A cut this larger would affect every family in Calloway County because Murray State is a huge economic engine to our community, Ramey said.
“I’m going to do everything I can in the General Assembly to point out that we don’t need to be going down that road, particularly for our community, but in Kentucky in general,” Ramey said. “You cannot cut education and be competitive in global marketplaces—you just can’t. It doesn’t make sense.”
As a member of the House, Imes said he is not comfortable with Bevin’s proposed cuts, and he said he intends to make suggestions regarding Murray State.
“My total loyalty is to Murray and doing everything I can to preserve and protect it,” he said.
Bevin’s proposed budget cuts are an attempt to avoid increasing taxes by instead reallocating tax revenue to fund the Kentucky’s pension system.
“Kentucky’s budget problems all stem from a pension problem,” Ramey said. “The pension problems are not something that has been created over the last two years; it’s not going to be something that’s fixed in the next two years.”
The only way the pension problem is going to be solved is to have leadership on both sides of the aisle in both chambers sit down with the governor to find a long-term solution, he said.
Imes said voters are concerned about the future and are now more aware of the policies that will affect them.
“I think people are realizing that when things aren’t right in Kentucky, things aren’t right in the United States,” Imes said.
Both candidates are unopposed in the Kentucky primary election on Tuesday, May 17 and will face each other in the Nov. 8 general election.