Two leading Republican gubernatorial candidates made stops in Lawrenceburg last week, vying for votes before the May primary election.
State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles spoke to donors at an event partially sponsored by Anderson County state Representative James Tipton Tuesday night at Rising Sons Winery. Wednesday afternoon, former U.S. ambassador to Canada and the United Nations Kelly Craft stopped at Craft House Pizza to greet those who came out in support.
The field of candidates in Kentucky is wide, with 12 candidates each making their case for why they are the party’s best hope for winning back the governor’s office. According to Mason-Dixon polling, current Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron leads the pack, with Craft trailing by more than 20%.
The polling numbers has Cameron at 39%, Craft at 13%, and Quarles at 8%. However, the same poll has 28% undecided, leaving a large swath of potential voters up for grabs.
Kentucky state auditor Mike Harmon is in fourth place with 5% saying they would vote for him. Alan Keck and Eric Deters each have 2% of potential voters supporting them, with the other half-dozen candidates polling at 1% or less.
At Tuesday night’s event, Quarles was adamant that his leadership is what Kentuckians need in November to unseat Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear. “I have a lot of friends in this primary. I focus on nobody’s race but my own. The others in the primary are my friends now and they’re going to be my friends afterwards,” Quarles said.
“We are distinguishing ourselves by the fact that I have been an executive leader running a large agency for eight years now. I’ve run the Department of Ag, which is the second largest government agency, for two terms now, by cutting the budget five times, reducing the size of government, and doing more with less.”
“We are also thinking about how I can work with legislators as a former legislator. Whoever the governor is needs to be able to work with the General Assembly, not sue them,” Quarles said.
During his speech, Quarles mentioned that Governor Beshear has bound up several legislators, including Representative Tipton, in unnecessary lawsuits. Those type of actions have widened an already sizeable disconnect between the legislative and executive authorities in Frankfort.
“I believe we have the best chance of winning because this is my third time running statewide. We won 117 of 119 counties, and back on Election Day in 2019, I actually received more votes than Governor Beshear did… I believe I can unite rural and urban Kentucky,” Quarles said.
Not lacking in confidence, former U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft also conveyed her assurance that she would best serve the interests of constituents across the Bluegrass.
“I have served at the federal level as the ambassador to Canada, where I negotiated the largest trade deal in the history of America, the United States Mexico Canada agreement,” Craft said.
“Then I served as the ambassador to the United Nations, where, because of my strong stance against the Chinese Communist Party on their fentanyl, which is coming right across our border and into Kentucky, I am now sanctioned for the rest of my life from the Chinese Communist Party.”
“My family has created hundreds of jobs in the state. We have never forgotten where we’ve come from, and we give back daily to the state of Kentucky.”
“Education is a huge component for me. We co-founded the Craft Academy and are very much engaged in the Kentucky Leadership Institute for Kentucky principals.”
“Drugs are also very important to me,” Craft said. “I have visited the border. It is wide open. I have had that pain of a child having addiction. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure we prevent fentanyl and other drugs from coming over the border.”
Both candidates look to chip away at the undecided populace of Republican voters ahead of the May election. In the aforementioned poll, Governor Beshear’s projected voter turnout would handily beat each of the top Republican challengers. The closest race would come from challenger Cameron, with projected totals of 49%-40% in favor of the incumbent. Projected voter totals show double-digit defeats for every other Republican challenger.
While polls aren’t exact, one can expect the race to continue heating up as eager voters get closer to their trip to the polls in May.
Although our first week of legislative session was in January, we took nearly no action then. We have now concluded our first week back and the pace is picking up with bills being filed every day and committee hearings starting.
This year will be a “short session,” which means we will be completely finished by March 30. In the even-numbered years, we do a two-year budget and stay into April. I prefer short session years, because we get right into business and I can keep up by short-term memory.
We passed two bills this week. HB 1 will lower the income tax down to 4.0% next year. I supported this change. While most of tax reform has been a muddy mess, this was an easy item to support. It partially rights a wrong from the original 2018 tax reform when sales taxes were added on all kinds of things they should not be on, such as car repairs. Back then, people were told their income tax was being reduced simultaneously, but it was actually a flattening of the tiers, where lower income people’s income taxes increased instead! Since that time, people who had paid 4% previously have now been paying 5%. Changing the income tax to 4% was the right thing to do by these people, while also avoiding a progressive income tax structure.
Changing the taxes in the future will not come nearly as quickly or easily as this recent reduction in income tax. Although last year’s tax bill set out a plan to reduce income tax to zero, it was really just words on a page. This entire state would look different if that plan were to work, so we are really just taking this one small step at a time and watching how the adjustments alter the economy. And with federal policy driving inflation and destruction of the markets, estimating a plateau point for state purposes is probably impossible at this moment.
The other bill passed was HB 2, which provides more funding for the Veteran’s nursing home in Bowling Green. This has been a longstanding project underway for a decade, which I recall working on in the Lt. Governor’s office as early as 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately, inflation has stalled the construction and completion and we are pulling money out of the rainy day fund to get it moving forward so the long-awaited federal funds are not endangered.
The Senate just voted on a bill to remove the tik-tok app from state devices. This practice has recently been employed by leaders of both the executive and legislative branches. Because executive branch orders do not retain permanence, this solidifies the policy even when the administration transitions into new hands.
Another issue hitting headlines is addressing the state of affairs in schools relating to transgender policy or the lack thereof. I am hearing reports of girls and boys indiscriminately using the same bathrooms, together, not for standard bathroom purposes. We are also facing the large question of when government schools can stand in for parents in the care of children. Policies are being floated out to all school districts, and school employees acting in the stead of parents to make decisions about children’s health and wellbeing even without parental consent or, alternatively, a substantiated finding that parents are incapable or neglecting their children.
I am confident we will get a handle on some of what is going on, but it is a wildfire changing daily. I am committed to protecting every student’s safety and every parent’s fundamental rights.
I had some fantastic in-depth meetings this week with constituents, and am focusing on a number of items relating to child abuse and family protection. I have also filed a few bills already with more to come. You can see each bill I have filed on our website, legislature.ky.gov, by clicking on “bills” tab and looking under this year in the senate and sorting by sponsor name. If you need anything, as always, email me at Adrienne.Southworth@lrc.ky.gov, or text me at 502.600.1547.
The Highview Arts Center of Louisville is preparing for their final weekend of “The Kiss Me Curse” featuring Lawrenceburg actor, Steve Tressler.
The show debuted on February 10, and the final performance will be on February 19. This weekend, there will be a 7:30 p.m. performance on Friday and Saturday, and there will be a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Sunday. Tickets are $15 apiece. Senior and student tickets are $12 apiece. All performances are held at the Highview Arts Center in Louisville.
According to the Highview Arts Center, “The Kiss Me Curse” is a comedy featuring “Angie.” In a statement about the play, the center explained, “Poor Angie has a problem most women would kill for. Every man she meets wants to marry her. But once their lips meet, her fourteen husbands only have three months to live. And thanks to an old curse, their spirits continue to be lovestruck, even after death!”
Lawrenceburg actor Steve Tressler will be playing the role of “Snyder” in this weekend’s performances. As Tressler explained, Snyder is one of Angie’s husbands who has died and become a ghost. Unfortunately, Snyder is cursed to keep loving Angie even after death, so he continues to try to protect her. When asked if he enjoyed his role, Tressler said, “It’s been amazing.”
Tressler has been acting for over 20 years. During that time, he has appeared in 5 feature films and over 100 television commercials. However, his appearance in “The Kiss Me Curse” is Tressler’s first time acting in a play since high school. “It’s been really exciting,” said Tressler.
When asked if he preferred acting on stage or on screen, Tressler said, “I like both.” Further explaining, Tressler said that is does take a lot more time to get ready for a play because you have to study and learn the lines. He also explained that on the stage you need to be able to get your lines perfect the first time because there are no retakes and other people are using your lines as cues. “To be on stage (you wouldn’t think it), is a lot more work,” said Tressler.
Leading up to the performances, Tressler has been very busy. They started getting ready before Christmas when they got their scripts, and soon after Christmas, they were supposed to have their lines memorized. Then, they were busy rehearsing all January , and they’ve been busy ever since.
When Tressler first agreed to be in the play, he thought that it would be a lot of fun. According to Tressler, it turned out to be a lot more challenging than he expected. However, when asked if it was worth it, Tressler said “Absolutely.” Tressler went on to say that working with the cast was a lot of fun and made it worth it. He also added that the show has sold out every night so far and that the crowds have been a lot of fun. Many in the crowd have even laughed and cried over the actor’s performances.
“Our cast is so good,” said Tressler. Working with the cast and the director, Tressler said that he has learned a lot about working on stage. Specifically, Tressler said that it had been great to
work with Vin Morreale Jr. Morreale is an international writer, director, and playwright, and speaking of him, Tressler said, “He’s an amazing writer and director.”
Finally, Tressler said that it has been overwhelming how much support he has received from his family and friends. “Especially my wife, Lindsey, who is a third-grade teacher in Lawrenceburg.” Getting ready for the play, Tressler spent a lot of time away from his family, but they still supported him. “Everybody made sacrifices,” said Tressler.