Dems challenging union-busters in the Purchase


AFT Local 1360

Jackson Purchase Democrats Martha Emmons, Charlotte Goddard, David Ramey and Julie Tennyson promise to be in labor’s corner if voters send them to the General Assembly in November.

Tennyson is taking on Second District Republican State Sen. Danny Carroll. Both are from Paducah.

Goddard is challenging Second District State Rep. Richard Heath, a Mayfield Republican. She lives near the Pottsville community in Graves County, of which Mayfield is the seat.

Emmons wants to succeed fellow Paducah Democrat Gerald Watkins, who represents the Third House District. Watkins is retiring after three terms.

Ramey hopes to fill the open Fifth District House seat. The incumbent, Kenny Imes, is stepping down. Ramey and Imes live in Murray.

Carroll, Heath and Imes made the USW “Wall of Shame” for voting for a trio of union-busting bills in the 2017 legislative session: “right to work,” prevailing wage repeal and a paycheck deception measure.

All three bills passed the GOP-majority House and Senate at warp speed. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin gleefully signed them into law.

The “Wall of Shame” is one side of a big banner which travels statewide. It lists the names of all 100 representatives and 38 senators in last year’s session and how they voted on the anti-union legislation.

Lawmakers who voted for the bills are listed on the “Wall of Shame” end of the banner, while the names of those who opposed the measures are at the other end on a “Wall of Fame.”

Emmons, Tennyson, Goddard and Ramey all come from union families. The quartet opposes RTW and “paycheck deception” and supports the prevailing wage.

Emmons and her husband own a bike shop in Paducah. Tennyson is a Paducah attorney. Goddard teaches at Caldwell County Elementary School in Princeton and is a KEA member. Ramey owns an insurance agency.

Tennyson is a graduate of the statewide Emerge program, whose goal is “to increase the number of Democratic women leaders from diverse backgrounds in public office through recruitment, training, and providing a powerful network.”

Emmons and Goddard are in the program.

In addition to backing unions, Emmons, Goddard, Ramey and Tennyson pledge to oppose GOP efforts to weaken public education (Paducah is home to West Kentucky Community and Technical College, and Murray State University is in Murray), public pensions and the state workers’ compensation program.

The filing deadline for the May 22 Democratic and Republican primaries is Jan. 30. Emmons, Goddard, Tennyson and Ramey are not expected to draw primary opposition.

Heath and Carroll have filed for the Republican primary. Larry Elkins is in the Fifth District GOP primary.

In the Third House District, Randy Bridges and Joni Hogancamp, both of Paducah, have announced their candidacies but have not filed. Watkins beat Bridges in 2014 and Hogancamp in 2016.

Watkins is running for the Paducah City Commission, where he served three terms before heading to Frankfort. Imes, who beat Ramey in 2016, was elected to the House as a Democrat before switching parties. 

Meanwhile, Purchase Democrats are scouting for somebody to run against First District Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah, another “Wall of Shame” inductee. Party leaders, too, are seeking a successor to Sixth District State Rep. Will Coursey, D-Marshall County. Like Watkins, another union-endorsed “Wall of Fame” lawmaker, he opted against a sixth term and is running for county judge-executive.

A pair of Republicans, Randall D. Fox and Chris Freeland, have filed in the Sixth District GOP primary.

Carroll, Heath, Imes and Rudy are among Bevin’s strongest union-busting allies. Watkins and Coursey have strong pro-labor voting records.