Kentucky Club for Growth
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December 22, 2010

Redistricting Kentucky's Six Congressional Districts

We don't have access to the 2010 Census county population counts yet, and we won't divide the populations of Ohio, Lincoln, Scott or Bath counties, but we can still tell a few things about the changes the General Assembly will have to make to the federal map for 2012.

If we total up the population based on the Census's 2009 population estimates, we get the following:

Dist. Population
1st 681688
2nd 726797
3rd 721594
4th 735929
5th 697460
6th 750645

These numbers split Ohio County's population between the 1st and 2nd Districts, places the entirety of Jefferson County to the 3rd, places Bath county entirely in the 4th and places the entirety of Scott and Lincoln Counties in the 6th.

The average population of a district by the 2009 estimates would be 719019, suggesting that districts 2, 4, and 6 will have to shrink by one or more counties (16,000-31,000 people) while 1 and 5 will have to grow and Jefferson County is still just about right as its own congressional district.

Surprisingly, it is the 1st district that requires to most expansion, yet it is historically bound by the 2nd's ownership of Daviess and Warren Counties (Owensboro and Bowling Green). If those cities are to stay in the 2nd, then the 1st will have to grow on it's eastern end, absorbing some combination of Barren, Wayne, Green, Taylor or Lincoln counties.

Want Growth? Repeal the State Income Tax

The Census is out and always interesting. Here's one quick observation:

Lower taxes create higher growth.

From Michael Barone

Growth tends to be stronger where taxes are lower. Seven of the nine states that do not levy an income tax grew faster than the national average. The other two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, had the fastest growth in their regions, the Midwest and New England.

Altogether, 35 percent of the nation's total population growth occurred in these nine non-taxing states, which accounted for just 19 percent of total population at the beginning of the decade.

December 21, 2010

Passport Continues Shakeup in Effort to Hold State Contract

A month ago, we wrote of a strange eruption of events regarding managed care in Kentucky's Medicaid program.

Seemingly simultaneously, the House Republican Caucus had advocated an expansion of the Passport program, Governor Beshear had launched an initiative to expand managed care in Medicaid, and State Auditor Crit Luallen had uncovered substantial mismanagement in Passport, the state's only managed-care provider.

Since then, Speaker Stumbo called on Passport to reimburse the state, Senate President David Williams joined in, and eventually Governor Beshear and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services adopted a hard line, pushing Passport to remove its leadership implicated in the audit.

Since then, Passport has terminated the contracts of two executives while the CEO has resigned and resigned from the board.

Passport had to sort itself out in order to remain the state's largest contract.

While these actions suggest potentially better management for Passport, the state would still benefit by inviting other managed care providers to compete to offer services in Kentucky.

December 20, 2010

Hoover Calls Out Conway for Obamacare Failure

Last week, Kentucky House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover (2010 Rank: #23) called out Kentucky's Attorney General Jack Conway for his failure to protect Kentucky taxpayers and the US Constitution. From a press release:

"This morning's ruling by a Federal judge in Virginia that forcing individuals to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional echoes our assessment last January that the health care bill in itself goes against the rights set out to states and individuals by our forefathers.

We fully expect this sets the stage for the next lawsuit, which will be heard this Thursday, to continue the trend in Federal court of striking down the overreaching health care bill pushed by the Obama administration.

Earlier this year I, along with my fellow House Republican Caucus members, was the first to publicly call upon Attorney General Jack Conway to join the lawsuit filed by other states questioning the constitutionality of this law. We in the Kentucky House Republican Caucus will continue to support those states seeking to uphold the constitution, despite the failure of our Attorney General to heed our call and join the lawsuits filed by the 13 states last year."

December 17, 2010

McConnell Hears the Tea Party's Message?

From Heritage:

Last night's victory could not have happened without the Tea Party. Earlier in the day, Tea Party-defeated outgoing- Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) was working "actively to round up as many as nine potential Republican votes" for the omnibus bill stuffed with 6,000 earmarks worth $8 billion. But then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) worked the phones all day twisting the arms of those nine Republicans, many of them members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to drop their support for the bill. It was not an easy sell. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, had 281 earmarks worth $561 million in the bill. McConnell himself had 48 earmarks worth $113 million. But wisely, these lawmakers eventually saw the light. McConnell told National Review afterward: "We decided that we're not going to pass a 2,000-page bill that nobody has seen since yesterday. That's not the way to operate and that's not the message from the November elections."

Corruption in Wisconsin: Jailed Legislator Released to Give $156 Million to Unions in Lame-Duck Session

Crazy.

Back in October, when the campaigns were in full swing, we here at WPRI tipped the public off to a legislative maneuver that seemed pretty far fetched. In a column I wrote for the Wisconsin State Journal on October 17th, I warned the public that the legislative Democrats might actually ram through the state employee contracts during the lame duck session - a scenario so preposterous, I'm not sure I even believed it at the time.

Well, here we are now. Democrats are trying to scrounge up the votes to pass the state worker contracts before Scott Walker can take over as governor. And today, the ridiculousness reached a completely new level.

Short on votes, Assembly Democrats have turned to one of their jailed colleagues for help. According to reports, disgraced State Representative Jeff Wood, currently sitting in jail due to multiple OWI arrests, has been allowed to leave jail for the day to return to Madison to vote on the union contracts. Walker has said passage of these contracts could cost the state up to $154 million, while he is attempting to close a budget deficit in excess of $3 billion.

So we are left with this: State union contracts being rammed through the Legislature at the last possible moment, by a body that voters threw out of power a month ago, with the deciding vote being cast by a legislator who had to be let out of jail to vote for the agreements.

Wood's trip down to Madison means the public employee unions are one step closer to getting what they want - locking contracts into place that put the state further into a deficit before Walker can undo them. We'll see how many drunks sitting in jail get the day off so they can do a $154 million favor for a powerful interest group.

At least the unionized prison guards will be nicer to him now.

UPDATE: In fact, Wood cast the deciding vote on 16 of the 17 union contracts. They each passed by a vote of 48-47. For those 48 legislators without shame, the time to be embarrassed is right.... now.

December 15, 2010

Williams to Appoint Four GOP Freshmen to Senate A&R - Who Leaves?

CN2 Politics is reporting that Senate President David Williams plans to put all four Senate GOP freshmen on the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

Senate President David Williams confirmed on Friday that he would assign those senators -- Jared Carpenter of Richmond, Joe Bowen of Owensboro, Mike Wilson of Bowling Green and Paul Hornback of Shelbyville -- to the appropriations and revenue committee.

As we reported in our newsletter, we expect these four to represent improvements for the taxpayer in the Senate.

What is most interesting about Mr. William's committment to the four is that there are only three obvious vacancies on the committee:

  • Sen. Bob Leeper [Chair] (I)
  • Sen. Ernie Harris [Vice Chair] (R)
  • Sen. David E. Boswell (D) defeated by Sen.-elect Bowen (R)
  • Sen. Tom Buford (R)
  • Sen. Denise Harper Angel (D)
  • Sen. Jimmy Higdon (R)
  • Sen. Ray S. Jones (D)
  • Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr (R)
  • Sen. Vernie McGaha (R)
  • Sen. R.J. Palmer (D)
  • Sen. Joey Pendleton (D)
  • Sen. Tim Shaughnessy (D)
  • Sen. Brandon Smith (R)
  • Sen. Robert Stivers (R)
  • Sen. Gary Tapp (R) retired, replaced by Sen.-elect Hornback (R)
  • Sen. Elizabeth Tori (R) defeated by Sen.-elect Dennis Parrett (D)
  • Sen. Jack Westwood (R)

It seems that Williams is attempting to replace two Republicans and one Democrat with four Republicans.

A fourth vacancy could be created if Sen. Stivers, the Republican Floor Leader, would be willing to relinquish his seat on the committee since he has a seat at the ultimate budget negotiation table anyway. Or it is possible that Sen. Westwood or another Senator would relinquish a seat in exchange for the gavel of the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee that Sen. Tori formerly chaired.

Since the Republicans created a stronger majority in the Senate, Williams may also reasonably argue that a larger Republican majority on the committee is justified.

Regardless, it is quite a bonus for these four freshmen to gain seats on this committee.

Sanders Won't Run for AG

Kenton Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders will not run for attorney general next year, he announced today.

Instead, the 38-year-old Fort Mitchell Republican plans to seek re-election in 2012 to a second term as Kenton County's chief prosecutor.

"Thanks to (those) who encouraged me to run for AG, but I love my job and will seek re-election in 2012," Sanders wrote on Twitter.

From Cincinnati.com via PageOneKy.com

December 14, 2010

Can the Republican Gubernatorial Primary Mirror the Paul-Grayson Primary?

So asks Amanda Van Benschoten:

Will the 2011 Republican primary for governor be a repeat of the 2010 GOP primary for U.S. Senate?

Phil Moffett thinks so.

"It's an establishment candidate, in my opponent, versus the outsider, which of course is what I am, with the tea party backing," he said at Saturday's Boone County GOP Christmas party.

"It mirrors very much the Trey Grayson/Rand Paul race in that regard."

But Moffett's opponent, Senate President David Williams of Burkesville, wasn't biting Saturday.

"This is the Boone County Republican Christmas party, and I'm going to follow the admonition of Ronald Reagan and not say anything bad about a fellow Republican," Williams said. "He can view it the way he wants to. How he views it is not necessarily how the public is going to view it."

There are many reasons why the gubernatorial primary will bear no resemblance to the Senate race, among them David William's mixed but conservative record, Paul's connections to his father, and William's already demonstrated commitment to not take the potential challenge lightly. (Additionally, we can't yet be sure that the field is set, as Cathy Bailey's name continues to be mentioned as a potential candidate.)

In fact, Paul's primary success results in large part from a savvy media plan and the financial connections afforded him by his father's national network. While Moffett will share the commitment of some grassroots conservatives, he does not have the automatic financial network that Paul enjoyed. Moffett's challenge is not only to tap in to the national financial network of conservatives, but to use that financing effectively.

These things are within the realm of possibility, but it will take considerably more work for Moffett than it did for Paul.

Beshear Misses Meaning of "Critical"

In an article on Steve Beshear's misguided push to increase the number of appointees in government, he attempts and fails to describe why one position for one of his political donors is 'critical'.

"Some of (his) duties include all citizen outreach, information and education for safe communities programs across the state, managing the 'Eyes and Ears on Kentucky' program which connects citizen reports of suspicious activity to Homeland Security intelligence and acting as liaison for the Public Health Department and the U.S. (Army) Corps of Engineers," Richardson said.

'Outreach' in the grant-awarding Kentucky Department of Homeland Security can hardly be thought of as a critical effort of that office. The second item, 'connecting citizen reports of suspicious activity' is hardly even a state function. The FBI has hotlines that preform this function, and anything else can easily be reported to local police and the KSP. Finally, it's ridiculous that the Department of Public Health can't liaise with federal agencies like the Army Corp on its own.

So why does this wasteful position exist? It's possible that it's part of Adam Edelen's corrupt administration of that office, but there is this:

One of those extra deputies, Aaron Horner, is a Democratic political consultant, party leader, fund-raiser and campaign manager. Horner has given $23,000 in campaign donations over the past decade, including $3,000 to Beshear.

We wonder what Beshear's efficiency study had to say about waste like this? What? He never did the study?

December 13, 2010

Richards May Challenge Clark

A few weeks ago, Jake Payne at PageOneKentucky.com listed a number of ways Larry Clark has hurt Kentucky from his position as House Speaker Pro tem. While we quibbled with a couple of points, we generally agree.

Now we read some more welcome news:

Former House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, reportedly is challenging Larry Clark, D-Louisville, for the position of House speaker pro tem.

While we don't think Richards really is the answer, we do think he's an improvement.

Beshear Loses General Counsel to Louisville

One of Governor Beshear's first hires in his administration was General Counsel Ellen Hesen. He hired her away from Crit Luallen's Auditor office, and was one of the early competencies of the new administration.

Now she has been hired by Louisville Mayor-elect Greg Fischer to construct his administration.

"It has been a great privilege to serve as Governor Beshear's general counsel. His optimism and strong leadership during these difficult times has been an inspiration to me," said Hesen. "I am confident my 13 years in state government, and, in particular, my three years with Governor Beshear, have prepared me to serve the people of Louisville well."

There is no doubt that the Beshear administration will miss her contributions, and that her presence is a positive first step for Fischer's efforts.

December 10, 2010

Jonathan Miller Has No Idea What to Do

First he wanted to be appointed Attorney General.

Miller said Monday he had discussed with Gov. Steve Beshear earlier this year about possibly accepting an appointment to be the state's attorney general if Democrat Jack Conway had won the U.S. Senate race.

He doesn't want to run for office next year:

Miller, during an interview in his Capitol Annex office, said he now "can't see pursuing any elective office anytime in the near future."

And he doesn't want to be Finance Secretary:

Asked if he wants to stay on as Beshear's finance secretary, Miller, 43, said, "I told the governor when he first asked me to take this job in 2007, that I would give him one to two years. We're at three now.

"I know never to say never. I told him I really would doubt about being involved in a second term, and I'm very confident he's going to get a second term, but again, I don't want ever to say never."

But Finance Secretary is the best job he could ever hope for:

Miller stressed that he is not closing the door on a political race in the future, "just not next year and probably not in 2012 either."

"I don't think there's a job that I could run for that would be greater than this job I have now."

Seriously.

December 7, 2010

On State Pensions, Beshear Whistling Past Graveyard, Buford Calls Him Out

Great stuff from Ryan Alessi:

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican state Senate President David Williams, who is running for governor, have vastly different assessments of the long-term financial security of the pension system for state employees.

Williams has advocated for future state hires to have 401(k)-like retirement benefits in which employees' retirement payments are matched by the state.

...

Beshear, however, said the legislature did enough to future employees' retiree benefits with some changes made in a special session in 2008.

Beshear's statement is maliciously misleading. As the graph in the post below demonstrates, the liability of the pension system is substantial. And as we wrote in 2008, the pension reform was paltry.

The pension plan that leadership in the Kentucky House and Senate have basically agreed upon amounts to trimming a rotten roast.

The problem isn't the fat on the pension system, it's the rotten nature of the system itself. Kentucky's legislature (aided by governors of both parties) has demonstrated that it is unable to manage taxpayers' money wisely, so why should it come as any surprise that they've been derelict in their duty to fund the pensions of state workers?

Six months later, Steve Beshear was already proposing to undo the funding commitments made in that legislation...

Part of the bill was a commitment to make payments that would shore-up the fund over five years. Wednesday, Governor Beshear proposed walking back that commitment, putting off these payments for cities and counties.

The commitment to make payments was an attempt to avoid serious reform of the system. Now we'll be without payments or reform.

...And David Williams and the legislature followed...

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, first raised the issue of cutting contributions during a meeting with Republican senators yesterday.

"When we come back here next year a serious decision that we are going to have to talk about with the next budget ... the governor is going to have to make a decision on whether he's going to suspend the statute we passed only last year to make sure we can sustain ourselves if we make our actuarially required contribution."

...

ES08 HB 1 was a small step forward in dealing with the overwhelming pension liability facing the state. Of the main reforms, one was a commitment to responsible funding of pension plans. What was a small step forward in the first place is now slowly unraveling.

Instead of addressing the future liability by creating a new plan for future employees that would more greatly resemble retirement benefits in the private sector, the General Assembly chose to require adequate payments to support the plan as it is.

This year [2009], they raided the pension fund for a $50 million loan (HB 143) and put off contributions into the pension system (HB 117). Now, they're not going to fund it as they promised in the special session.

Sen. Tom Buford puts it best:

The changes to future retiree benefits were fairly mild, said state Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville. Buford said that legislation was a missed opportunity to do more.

"We gave some good bullet points for the newspapers, and then we drove home," Buford said. "We didn't change anything."

The current system is unsustainable, and it is reckless for Beshear to suggest otherwise.

December 6, 2010

Federal Lawmakers Getting Serious About State Pensions

Many states, including Kentucky, are swimming in debt and unfunded obligations due to generous public pensions. Kentucky still offers a defined-benefit pension to state employees despite the increasing rarity of such plans in the private sector.

The amount of debt every state owes is currently underreported. As the New York Times explained in April:

Now, a couple of members of the US House of Representatives are proposing a measure to force Kentucky to reveal just how big its unfunded obligations are. From the Wall Street Journal:

The latest wrinkle: A bill introduced last week by three prominent House Republicans to deny states and localities the ability to sell tax-exempt bonds--the lifeblood for many governments--unless they report their pension-fund liabilities to the Treasury Department. The federal tax-free status of interest on municipal bonds helps generate demand for the bonds and lowers government borrowing costs.

The goal, the congressmen say, is to get a better handle on funding woes of public pensions, which they say are not always forthcoming about the true extent of their financial exposure.

Forcing this issue into the sunlight shouldn't be necessary, but it certainly is.

December 3, 2010

The Good Ol' Boy System Holding Kentucky Back

Jake at Page One Kentucky has a complaint:

They're so bitter and focused on looking for a scapegoat that many House Democrats are pledging to vote against any legislation that includes Webb-Edgington as a sponsor. Even the governor's office is playing that game.

It's a shame. Kentuckians are suffering. And Frankfort bureaucrats are getting more powerful, more bitter, more wealthy and even more disconnected from the average man and woman on the street.

I encourage you to reach out to your legislators. Tell them that if they kill legislation solely because a particular legislator is a sponsor/co-sponsor, you'll take part in a campaign to remove them from office next cycle.

We can't afford any more of this bull.

We agree: too many in the General Assembly are more concerned with each other than with what Kentuckians really want and need. This example is the Good-Ol'-Boy system illustrated.

We guess this goes along with today's earlier post about commemorative bills to suggest just how serious most of the legislators in Frankfort are about making the tough choices required to make Kentucky better.

It's time Frankfort focuses more on policy, not personality.

Want to See How Little Goes on in the General Assembly?

Apparently, one of the proposed changes in the Rules of the US House of Representatives is to ban commemorative resolutions. From the Washington Post:

Americans may soon be bidding farewell to resolutions that support the goals and ideals of "National Day of the Cowboy," "National Pollinator Week" and "National Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month."

That's because the House Republican transition team is planning to make several key changes to GOP conference rules heading into the 112th Congress, according to a memo circulated to Republican members Wednesday night.

Among the changes proposed is a rule that would prohibit the consideration of most commemorative resolutions, including measures congratulating sports teams or designating special days such as "National Pi Day." Such resolutions are a pet peeve of many congressional Republicans, who argue that they're a waste of time and point out that one-third of all bills brought to the House floor during the last congress were commemorative in nature.

If they're a third of all bills federally, they're the majority of floor activity in the state House. If you want to strip bare the lack of activity in the state legislature, this is the rule to do it.

December 2, 2010

Governor Beshear Fights to Increase Well-Paid Appointments

John Cheves of the Herald-Leader writes:

Gov. Steve Beshear is asking the Kentucky Personnel Board to exempt 81 political appointees from a new budget-cutting law that would abolish their jobs Dec. 31.

The appointees are midlevel officials across state government. Beshear did not submit their names to the board, just job titles and agencies. They include "policy advisers," who start with a $75,729 salary on average under Beshear, and "special assistants," who on average start at $61,980.

Some political opponents have jumped on this filing. We received the following from the Phil Moffett campaign today:

"Three years ago, Steve Beshear was promising not to raise taxes and to save money on everything down to the smallest lightbulb. After watching him raise taxes, explode the state debt, suck up federal bailouts and play refinance games with state bonds that would make Barney Frank blush, we are supposed to just sit by quietly while he kicks rank-and-file state employees off a lifeboat he has reserved for his political friends? I don't think so."

"And it doesn't escape notice that David Williams is being pretty quiet while all this is going on."

While he's pegged Beshear on his hypocritical commitment to responsible spending, the political appointee issue is less cut-and-dry. As we wrote in March:

Demanding a reduction of 125 appointees entirely from the Governor's appointees, over 16% of the total, will likely harm his ability to run his government. The number should be reduced -- everyone is tightening belts -- but the Governor should also be afforded the ability to implement his policy directives, and these appointees are often (too often, unfortunately) the only staff that have the willingness and ability to do that.

So let's look at the numbers. Cheves reports:

Last winter, in response to the state budget shortfall, the legislature tried to force Beshear to curb his political appointments. At the time, Beshear said the state had 826 full-time appointees. According to the most recent data available, that number had risen to 856 by Sept. 29.

In March, our post noted:

When you bore all the way to the bottom line, you find that Gov. Beshear appointed just 826 of the 3,635 non-merit employees in the executive branch on Jan. 31. (from Keeling's editorial)

This number is actually 26 higher than the previous administration, or 3.25%, so there's room to cut.

So here's the math:

Beshear is asking to spare 81 of 856 appointees. If he eliminated 56 of these positions, he'd simply return to the number of appointees in the previous administration. Judging the number of appointees this way, the real amount of positions reduced is only 26, or 3.25%. This seems entirely reasonable given the legislature's expressed intention to reduce political appointments.

Instead, he is clearly fighting to increase the number of appointees in state government.

This filing by Beshear is simply one more example of his lack of seriousness in reducing state spending.

Gatewood Officially Announces for Governor as Independent

Gatewood has announced his campaign for Governor. Regardless of his proposals and other issues, the media will always focus on one:

A Lexington lawyer known for his stance on legalizing marijuana officially announced Wednesday that he is running for governor as an independent.

Gatewood has run for statewide office twice before. In 2003, he ran as an Independent candidate for Attorney General and received 11% of the vote. Democrat Greg Stumbo (47%) defeated him and Republican Jack Wood (42%). In 1999, he ran as a Republican candidate for Governor and received 15.1% of the vote to Paul Patton's 61%, Peppy Martin's 22%.

It is also notable that Gatewood has been very active in the Tea Party movement, speaking and distributing copies of his book at events around the state. Because of this history, and because of his Constitutionalist roots (the party more than the document) he has a strong base that likely cuts significantly into the base of any Republican candidate. He may not pull 10% again, but don't be surprised next October to see the Republican attacking Gatewood in the media...

On the other hand, a fellow CFGer pointed out to us that unions who don't get along with Jerry Abramson have soured on the Beshear-Abramson ticket, and Gatewood has already been endorsed by the United Mine Workers, suggesting that Gatewood's ticket could pull from the D-side as well.

In the meantime, Gatewood's presence alone insures an entertaining race.

December 1, 2010

Kentucky Farm Bureau May Open Door for Gambling

The Kentucky Farm Bureau is currently considering a recommendation from its equine advisory committee "that KFB would support any avenue to help the industry to remain competitive."

"Any avenue" would certainly include the expansion of gambling in Kentucky, which organizations like the Kentucky Equine Education Project are attempting to pass and either earmark revenues or grant monopoly ownership for horse tracks and horse owners.

The KFB Director of Public Affairs notes that "KFB currently does not have a position for or against any type of expanded gaming in the commonwealth," but doesn't 'no position for or against gambling' + 'any avenue to help the industry' = helping the industry promote expanded gambling?

State Workers Continue to Sue for Layoffs

Despite the recent withdrawal of a union lawsuit against the furloughs, and despite clear evidence that furloughs are protecting state workers from layoffs, a new lawsuit has been filed against state furloughs.

According to Tony McVeigh of NPR:

But now, a similar lawsuit challenging the furloughs has been filed by 37 teachers who are members of the Kentucky Education Association. Most work at the Kentucky School for the Blind and the Kentucky School for the Deaf.

The lawsuit claims the furloughs, approved by the 2010 General Assembly and implemented by Gov. Steve Beshear, are unconstitutional and being unlawfully imposed. The state disagrees and seeks dismissal of the lawsuit, filed in Franklin Circuit Court.

To date, state workers have taken three of six furlough days, which are designed to save the state $24 million this fiscal year.

The basis for the claim: Someone or other said it shouldn't happen, so we're suing.

Well, that's a paraphrase:

"I think Gov. Beshear, or the legislature - one of the two - said this will not affect K-12 employees," said Oxendine. "But in essence, it did affect these particular K-12 employees. And that's why we're bringing the suit."

Meanwhile, the Governor's fighting to not layoff 81 of his appointees.

Hat Tip: Page One Kentucky

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The KY Club for Growth seeks principled candidates who are committed to the following:

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