Choose Roberts for state Senate

It's highly unusual for a three-term legislator to face a challenge from within her own party.

But Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, whose 12th District includes Keeneland and some of the Bluegrass's most fabled farms, faces Lexington veterinarian and horseman Andrew M. Roberts in the May 18 Republican primary.

The winner will compete against Democrat Don Blevins, a former Fayette County clerk and Lexington council member, in November.

Roberts, like many in the horse business, is concerned that Kentucky's signature industry isn't getting a fair shake from the Senate's Republican leadership which has blocked expanded gambling at racetracks.

Horses and the jobs they generate are fleeing the Bluegrass in increasing numbers to take advantage of slots-enhanced purses and incentives in other states.

But when the House last year approved racetrack slots, the Republican-controlled Senate stopped the bill without even giving it a floor vote, and Kerr was one of the committee members who killed it.

While concerns about the horse industry propelled Roberts into this campaign, he's not a one-note candidate.

He's also concerned about the University of Kentucky slipping further from its Top 20 goals. He is open to tax reform and would like to see a shift away from income taxes toward taxing goods and services.

Roberts could be an independent thinker and breath of fresh air in a Republican caucus stultified by Senate President David Williams' iron rule.

He could also be a voice for Lexington in a legislature dominated by rural interests.

All Fayette County gets out of re-electing Kerr is a reliable foot soldier for Williams.

Kerr is occasionally allowed to stray from the script, as when, earlier this year, she cast the deciding vote that killed a precipitous charter schools bill. She's championed some good child nutrition legislation.

But she seldom pushes ideas of her own. Mostly she just does what Williams dictates. It sounds harsh, but Roberts hits the mark when he says that having Kerr in Frankfort is like having "an empty seat."

Roberts, who espouses fiscally conservative and pro-business views and has reported raising more money than Kerr in this election cycle, is the better alternative for Fayette County Republicans.