By Ben Sheroan
The economy, energy and earmarks filled a Monday evening forum in Elizabethtown featuring candidates for the 2nd Congressional District seat. “The No. 1 issue today should be jobs and the economy,” Republican nominee Brett Guthrie said. The Democratic candidate, David Boswell of Owensboro, also emphasized “jobs, the economy and restoring the middle class” during his opening remarks at the debate at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. On the day that Congress rejected a $700 billion economic bail-out plan, the two candidates who both serve in the state Senate said a legislative solution to the financial crisis is essential.
Specifically, Guthrie said any rescue legislation should ensure that savings, retirement plans and college funds are protected. Boswell, a former state agriculture commissioner, discussed development of grain-based and cellulose-based alcohol for motor fuel and his own work on legislation pushing the alternatives in Kentucky. He also twice addressed coal-to-fuel technology in a discussion of America’s need to be “energy independent, energy self-sufficient and energy efficient.” Guthrie, a Bowling Green businessman, discussed the need to drill for more domestic oil, but said that idea is no solution to satisfying America’s energy needs. He listed nuclear power, wind energy and hydrogen as fuels to address the nation needs and stressed “the need for the right leadership” to make decisions on energy issues. On the controversial topic of Congressional earmarks, both candidates expressed caution about the budget-busting potential of unchecked spending. Neither ruled out the possibility of designating spending to benefit their 22-county district, which includes LaRue County. Criticizing the $100 trillion federal budget deficit, Boswell said it was “time we backed up and looked at the system.” He said he favored earmarks to address human needs. Guthrie said earmarks have undermined public confidence because of a “lack of transparency” in the process results in the system looking suspect. He pledged that his name would be attached to “worthy” spending measures. Several similarities surfaced during the forum. Both candidates maintain pro-life and pro-gun positions. Both advocate a controlled withdrawal from Iraq based on conditions in the conflict rather than a set timetable. Each called for full federal funding for federal education initiatives, expressed support for veterans’ programs and pledged to direct support funding for Fort Knox and community needs related to growth expected from the base realignment plan which will bring more than 5,000 civilian jobs to the post. ABOUT THE CANDIDATES Brett Guthrie, 44, has served in the state Senate since 1998 in a district that includes Warren and Butler counties. He serves as vice president of Trace Die Cast, a manufacturing company in Bowling Green owned by his family. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the Army as a field artillery officer with the 101st Airborne. Guthrie also earned a master's degree in public and private management from Yale University. He and his wife, Beth, have three children.
David Boswell, 58, was elected to four terms in the state House of Representatives beginning in 1978. He then served as state commissioner of agriculture and has been in the state Senate since 1991.. He also has worked as a lobbyist. A graduate of Owensboro Catholic High School, he attended Brescia College and Western Kentucky University. Boswell and his wife, Sandi, have two sons. ABOUT THE ELECTION The House seat will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. The seat is up for grabs because Republican Congressman Ron Lewis decided to step down.