Herald-Leader Editorial

Choose Marrs for House 76 District

May 8, 2014 


Richard Marrs took on longtime legislative incumbent Ruth Ann Palumbo in 2010 and lost by 20 percentage points.

In 2012, he lost by a little over 10 percent, aided by public attention to Palumbo's then-ownership of an abandoned house in need of repair.

The question facing Republican voters in the 76th District in northeast Lexington is whether — without the abandoned house as a campaign issue — Marrs has a chance of winning against Palumbo in the fall. Or, whether it is time to give someone else a try.

We suggest giving Marrs a third opportunity.

The Lexington native who runs his own advertising firm impresses as focused, reasonable and earnest in his desire to help improve state finances through pension reform and careful budgeting.

And he has shown an ability to manage money well, winning the 2012 primary soundly despite being outspent nearly eight to one.

In the upcoming primary, he faces a rematch with Lavinia Theodoli Spirito, a lawyer-businesswoman who is running an energetic campaign.

Spirito works on dependency, neglect and abuse cases in family court. She is also on the board of a local Catholic radio station, where she has a talk show. Her priorities include reducing government, reinforcing state's rights and fighting what she sees as cultural deterioration.

On more specific issues raised during the League of Women Voters' candidate forum, Marrs and Spirito held similar views.

Neither supports a statewide smoke-free law nor the Affordable Care Act. Both endorse right-to-work laws and are open to returning voting rights to nonviolent felons who have served their time. Spirito would want to lower interest rates on payday loans, Marrs would prefer to stress better financial management instead.

Unseating an entrenched incumbent is a major challenge, especially in a district comfortable with voting Democratic. Marrs, with his laser-like focus on state finances, stands a stronger chance to appeal across party lines in November.

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

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