Damon Thayer in Senate 17

Republican worked with governor on gaming

October 16, 2012 

State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, gets our support as he seeks his third term representing the 17th district against challenger David Holcomb.

The district includes Scott, Grant and Owen counties and part of Kenton County.

Holcomb, a Democrat who is receiving no support from the party, appears to be a reasonable person who recognizes and shares the understandable public discontent with the Kentucky General Assembly.

However, he stands too firmly at odds with the realities of public life, refusing to solicit or accept campaign donations and saying he "is not a political animal," to hold out any hope of winning this election or of accomplishing much should he be elected.

Thayer, who now operates a marketing and public-relations consultancy and has worked in or with the Thoroughbred industry most of his career, has firmly supported regulations to limit the use of drugs in horses on race days and spoken out against legislative maneuvers to undermine the regulations.

Thayer has also pushed for more accountability for the hundreds of local special taxing districts, supporting legislation that would require county fiscal courts to approve any tax increases levied by the unelected boards of those districts.

Thayer has also been a champion of the effort to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to allow casino gambling in Kentucky.

This no doubt accounts for the Democratic Party's lack of interest in Holcomb, as Gov. Steve Beshear, the head of the state party, also favors expanded gambling.

Earlier this year, Thayer initially refused to identify clients who stood to benefit from his support of casino gambling and other measures, but later relented. While he was within legislative ethics guidelines, his defensive response suggested he doesn't fully appreciate the potential conflicts of interest between his private work and his role as a legislator. This, despite Thayer's admirable efforts to improve transparency in campaign financing disclosure.

We also found it disappointing that Thayer joined the "birther" ranks this spring with a cheap joke about President Barack Obama's country of origin. Policy debates are welcome, indeed essential, but pandering at that level does a disservice to public discussion.

The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Thursday.

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