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.
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.
Newly elected U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will make a fundraising appearance in Bowling Green next month. The purpose of the visit is to raise money for GOP state house candidates. Scott Lasley, chairman of the Warren County GOP says Congressman Brett Guthrie likely played a big role in helping to bring a high-profile name like McCarthy to Bowling Green.
“There are at least 230 Republican members who would love to have him come to their districts and help raise money for, in this case, the state party. It reflects the level of respect that Congressman Guthrie has from his colleagues and also reflects what types of relationships he’s been able to form while in Washington,” said Lasley.
Lasley says there’s “no guarantee” the GOP can win the five seats needed to take control of the Kentucky House, but he says the party has its best shot in years. He says if they can accomplish their goal, it could move more critical than winning the governor’s office.
“If Republicans are successful and are able to control the House and the Senate, you’re going to see tax reform, you’re going to see some discussion of things like right-to-work and a whole range of issues. It would be significant,” said Lasley.
There hasn’t been a Republican majority in the state house since 1920.
In a statement sent to the Associated Press, current House Speaker, Democrat Greg Stumbo writes “House Republicans want to bring more Washington-styled politics to Kentucky, which is the last thing we need”