Re-elect Hal Rogers in 5th District

Clout, knowledge of poverty could aid nation

October 30, 2012 

If Republicans hold the House, as expected, Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers will probably hold on to his chairmanship of the appropriations committee, making him one of the most powerful people in Washington.

That's reason enough for voters in the 5th District to re-elect Rogers to a 17th term — especially since Democrats are not mounting a real campaign to unseat him.

Democratic challenger Kenneth S. Stepp, a Manchester attorney who has run other quixotic campaigns, reports having spent $500, which is no match for the $1.4 million Rogers has raised in this two-year cycle.

Despite Rogers' grip on the federal purse strings and his fame for bringing home the bacon, he represents one of the nation's poorest districts and some of the poorest people in the developed world.

Rogers' district ranks dead last among 436 congressional districts in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which tracks the well-being of U.S. residents through daily phone interviews.

On the Human Development Index published by the Social Science Research Council, Kentucky's 5th ranks next to last overall and in life expectancy.

While Rogers hasn't come up with innovative programs for lifting Eastern Kentucky out of poverty, he does at least have a firsthand familiarity with poverty and the needs of poor regions and people.

That's a perspective the Republican Party needs at a time when its standard bearer writes off 47 percent of the population as unwilling to take personal responsibility.

Rogers' three decades in Congress have been better for the courthouse crowds and his cronies than the region. But maybe he'll improve with age. Voters really have little choice in this election.

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

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