Republican efforts to win control of the Kentucky House got a boost from a national figure Saturday.
The incoming U.S. House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, was in Bowling Green to raise money for the Republican Party of Kentucky House Trust. McCarthy visited the commonwealth at the request of the state’s 2nd District Congressman, Brett Guthrie of Warren County.
Speaking to reporters before the fundraiser, Rep. McCarthy said what happens in state legislatures can often trickle up to the nation's capital.
“I feel states are able to show and be a generator of ideas greater than Washington--that you can do the pilot programs,” the California Republican said. “The whole concept of welfare reform came from states. States don’t get to print more money. States have to balance a budget. States have to move forward. They carry out agencies they didn’t create.”
Democrats have controlled the Kentucky House for over 90 years, and the party’s state leaders say they will continue to hold the chamber despite the amount of GOP money being raised ahead of the November election. Republicans would have to win a net gain of five seats this fall to take control of the House.
Multiple super PACs have been created by Republicans this year to boost their party’s efforts to win the chamber, including a group founded by GOP gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner, and a PAC run by a Kentuckian who served as a top aide to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Broadening the Republican Party’s Appeal?
During his visit to The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, McCarthy said he agreed with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s recent statements about Republicans needing to expand the party’s appeal to groups that haven’t recently voted for the GOP in large numbers, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people.
“We need to broaden this party. A lot of people in this party, every time you see a presidential debate, they always talk about Reagan. And what was the definition when you heard about Reagan? There were Reagan Democrats. This party wasn’t just about Republicans.”
“I think a key part is talking about job creation—the difference between the two (parties). Education reform. Everybody in the country wants to live the ‘American Dream’, so that their children have a better opportunity than they had for themselves.”
McCarthy said Republicans have to convince disparate groups of Americans that the GOP is the party with the best strategy to grow economic opportunities, and that “regardless of who you are, there is a place in this party for you.”
It remains to be seen if Republicans can connect with socially liberal young Americans. The issue of gay marriage is an example of how the GOP is finding itself increasingly out of step with young voters—even young Republican voters.
A recent Pew Research Center study showed 61 percent of Republican-leading adults between the age of 18 and 29 favored legalizing marriage for gays and lesbians.
By comparison, 27 percent of Republican voters over the age of 50 said they supported legalizing same-sex marriage. Overall, 54 percent of all respondents to the Pew study said they favored legalizing gay marriage, with 69 percent of Democrats supporting the idea.
Addressing the Crisis Along the U.S.-Mexico Border
Rep. McCarthy said Saturday that Republicans will make a counter-proposal this week to President Obama’s border security funding request. Mr. Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the flood of unaccompanied Central American children who are trying to get into the U.S. from Mexico.
McCarthy says while his party thinks that price tag is too high, Republicans agree that the problem must be addressed.
“You’re going to have to make sure that the border patrol has the resources to go—that you’re able to move these children and get them back with their families humanely, and as soon as possible. You can do that within a five to seven day time frame. That will help start deterring the movement of more (children) coming up.”
McCarthy predicted the plan offered by Republicans to address the border crisis will have a “much smaller” cost than the proposal made by President Obama. The U.S. House Majority Leader-elect said he hopes the two sides can come to an agreement and have a new policy in place within two weeks.
One of the Republicans in charge of reviewing the President’s funding proposal for border security is Somerset Congressman Hal Rogers, who is Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.