Although he is the younger of the two Republican candidates, Whitney H. Westerfield would bring broader and more useful experience to Kentucky's Office of Attorney General.
In his first three years in the state Senate, Westerfield has been a central player in accomplishing some difficult reforms: rewriting the juvenile justice code, enacting an enlightened approach to combating the spread of heroin and opening the civil protective order system to victims of stalking and dating violence. The dating violence bill had been blocked in the Republican Senate for years.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Westerfield has earned a reputation for seeking out and listening to divergent opinions. He's also shown an affinity for basing decisions on empirical data, putting him at odds at times with dogmatic GOP colleagues.
Westerfield, 34, worked for five years as an assistant commonwealth's attorney and is now in private practice in his hometown of Hopkinsville.
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Michael T. Hogan, 47, who has been the Lawrence County attorney since his first election in 2002, is personable and articulate. Hogan, who has a private legal practice in his hometown of Louisa, worked as a public defender early in his career, is a veteran of the Army Reserves and has a degree in police administration from Eastern Kentucky University.
He can make himself more qualified for state office by broadening his involvement and service beyond his home county.
The winner of the May 19 Republican primary will go on the November ballot against the only Democratic candidate for AG, Andy Beshear, a Louisville lawyer and son of the outgoing governor, who already has amassed almost a $2 million war chest.
The attorney general has a broad range of responsibilities, including consumer and environmental protection, intervening in utility rate cases, monitoring elections for fraud, representing the state in litigation and managing a large staff.
The AG also is the state's top criminal prosecutor and a guardian of the state and federal constitutions.
Westerfield, who wears his religious faith on his sleeve, should remember that he is seeking a critical role in a justice system that is constitutionally bound to be impartial and free of bias, including religious bias.
We don't question the sincerity of Westerfield's devotion. But he should think about the appearance demanded by the office he is seeking and moderate the public displays of religiosity.
While all the AG candidates are a bit green for the post, Westerfield is the most qualified choice for Republicans on May 19.
The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Thursday.