U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers was one of the 19 House Republicans brave enough to vote for outgoing President George W. Bush's plan to save the nation's economy from financial industry recklessness.
But he refused to support a proposal under President Barack Obama to strengthen regulation and scrutiny of the financial sector so this situation would never happen again.
The myriad of programs he has help finance in the 5th District, in the southeastern region of the state, include several on environmental cleanup. But he is sponsoring legislation to prevent federal regulation of coal mining, which often has severe environmental impacts.
After 15 terms in office, Rogers has been able to have it both ways: denouncing big government while mastering the ability to get federal money for his poor district.
That has given him a solid lock on voter support that the Democratic Party has not seriously attempted to challenge.
It makes sense for the voters to keep him. Rogers now sits on the powerful House Appropriations committee, which helps decide how federal money is spent. If the Republicans regain control of the House, as many analysts predict, his seniority puts him in line for a key chairmanship.
His challenger this year is Democrat Jim Holbert, an emergency medical services helicopter pilot from London. A straight-talker with a nationalist bent away from free trade and Mideast wars, Holbert stresses the need for U.S. energy independence and the state's development of other energy sources.
Holbert got 16 percent of the vote against Rogers in 2008 while running as an independent. Unlike some of Rogers' past competition, Holbert, who retired from the U.S. Army, could be a serious candidate for the seat some day, if he did the real work of building both grass-roots and party support.
Voters in the 5th District could benefit from a real debate about what the region really needs to prosper, beyond funding one budget earmark at a time.
The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Friday.