When I read the Herald-Leader article by Bill Estep “Conservative group runs ads against Hal Rogers,“ I thought it was one of the most absurd political moves I’ve ever heard of, let alone a complete waste of money — even for two billionaires.
Rogers was elected as the U.S. congressman from Kentucky’s 5th District in 1980, the same year I chaired Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign in our state. My association with Rogers predates that election by quite a few years.
While Rogers and I may have not always agreed on every issue or always supported the same candidate in every election, I believe that I am in a much stronger position than David and Charles Koch and the Americans for Prosperity group when I tell you that Rogers is a true-blue, lifelong conservative Republican.
While he is a conservative Republican, he’s not Mr. Scrooge. Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky have historically been the poorest regions in our state and therefore require the most tending to. Were it not for massive investment through federal government projects spearheaded by Rogers and the late Congressman Carl D. Perkins before him, I shudder to think at the momentum that would have been lost.
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The difference, for example, between Pikeville in 1968 and Pikeville in 2018 is astonishing. None of that advancement would have been possible without Rogers and his predecessors.
In the May 22 Republican primary, Rogers was opposed by a Libertarian-leaning character who was upset about federal asset forfeiture. The result? Rogers: 84 percent of the vote.
Like Rogers, our greatest Kentucky Republican statesman of the last century, John Sherman Cooper, also hailed from Pulaski County. During his first roll-call vote in the U.S. Senate, transferring investigatory powers to a special War Investigation Committee soon after World War II, Cooper went against the wishes of party leaders.
So did his second vote, which prompted Sen. Robert A. Taft, Republican of Ohio, to storm up the aisle and demand: “Are you a Republican or a Democrat? When are you going to start voting with us?”
“If you’ll pardon me,” Cooper replied, “I was sent here to represent my constituents, and I intend to vote as I think best.”
We must decide as Republicans whether we want to build or tear down. I’ve always believed in building. We can be conservative without being contrarian. The party of “no” won’t accomplish much if that’s what we’re always about.
Sometimes, we must say “yes” and make it work to better the quality of life for real people.
Hal Rogers has delivered for his people and they keep sending him back to Washington by overwhelming margins. The Koch brothers would be best advised to spend their money elsewhere and to keep their noses out of Kentucky politics.
Elections are best decided by we, the people — and not them, the oligarchs.
Larry Forgy of Lexington is a retired attorney, former Republican National Committee member and the 1995 Republican nominee for Kentucky governor.
At issue: Herald-Leader article by Bill Estep, “Conservative group runs ads against Hal Rogers”