James DeWeese files to run for Kentucky State House District 50

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Democrat James DeWeese of Bardstown wants a rematch with Republican state Rep. D. Chad McCoy, also of Bardstown, who defeated him in 2016. 

"Since the General Assembly met in January of 2017, we have witnessed several attacks on public education and teachers, access to affordable and quality healthcare, working families, retirees and pensions," said a statement from DeWeese, a UPS ground agent with Louisville-based Teamsters Local 89.

DeWeese traveled to Frankfort Monday to file for the May 22 Democratic primary in House District 50, which encompasses Nelson County, of which Bardstown is the seat. Kory Miller of Boston also filed for the Democratic primary on Monday. 

Witnessing DeWeese's signing was a contingent that included his wife, Christy Higdon DeWeese; their two children, some Teamster brothers and sisters, Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is also a Democrat.

Today is the deadline for filing in the Republican and Democratic primaries.

McCoy is one of the most anti-labor lawmakers in Frankfort. He is on the USW's "Hall of Shame" banner because he voted for a "right to work law," a measure to repeal the prevailing wage and bill to make it harder for some unions to collect dues through payroll deduction. The banner also has a "Hall of Fame" side for lawmakers who opposed the three bills, which passed the GOP House and Senate and were eagerly signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican.  

“Running for this office in 2016 was a humbling experience," DeWeese also said in the statement. He added that he was grateful "to the several Nelson countians that opened up their doors to talk to me, that displayed my campaign yard signs and that ultimately went and voted for me. And I would like to say once again, thank you to everyone for that."

DeWeese said that through his union work he fights "for the best interests of our hardworking Kentucky women and men....I strive to only do what is fair, just and right by everyone and for everyone."

He said he is running for the legislature because "it's time that Nelson County has a voice in Frankfort that understands what it means to be a real Kentuckian.”

DeWeese was one of three trade unionists who filed as Democrats Monday.  Eldon Renaud of Bowling Green, former president of UAW Local 2164, joined the primary in House District 20. Al Cunningham, who lives in Benton, signed up for the District 6 primary. Cunningham was the business representative for Painters and Allied Trades District Council 91.

Renaud is in one of the most crowded primary fields in the state. Five Democrats and three Republicans are vying for the seat vacated by former Democratic House Speaker Jodie Richards, who is retiring. He is on the "Wall of Fame" side for opposing RTW and the paycheck deception bill, though he voted for PW repeal. 

District 20 largely includes Bowling Green, the Warren County seat.

The other Democrats are Rick DuBose, Patti Minter, Brian "Slim" Nash and Ashlea Shepherd Porter. The Republican primary has attracted Todd R. Alcott, Troy Brooks and Benjamin T. Lawson.

Cunningham and fellow Benton Democrat Drew Williams want to succeed state Rep. Will Coursey, who is running for county judge executive. Coursey is on the USW "Wall of Fame."

The primary winner will face either Randall D. Fox or Chris Freeland, the two GOP hopefuls in the District 6 primary. 

The 6th District includes Marshall and Lyon counties and part of Marshall County.

A fourth union member, Richard Becker of Louisville, an NCFO/SEIU representative, filed for the District 35 Democratic primary on Nov. 16. His opponents are Jack W. Walker and Lisa Willner. As of today, no Republican had filed. 

Becker, Walker and Willner are battling for the seat opened with the retirement of state Rep. Jim Wayne, another USW hall-of-famer.

"It was a great day in Frankfort yesterday," said Londrigan, who also witnessed Cunningham and Renaud's signings. "We have four bona fide trade unionists running for the state House and I have been told that a total of 37 KEA teachers are also running."  

All 100 House seats and half of the Senate’s 38 seats are up for election. The Republicans hold a 64-36 majority in the House and a 27-11 Senate edge.