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Candidate comparison: Guthrie faces two challengers for Kentucky’s 2nd District

There are three candidates seeking to represent Kentucky’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives: Brett Guthrie, a Republican, is the incumbent; Hank Linderman, a Democrat, and Thomas Loecken, an independent, are challenging him for the seat.

The Advocate-Messenger asked all candidates the same six questions and allowed each the same maximum number of words to answer each question. The candidates’ answers are reprinted here as they were provided to the newspaper. When a candidate’s answer exceeded the word count allowed and no revised answer was provided in a timely manner, the answer was edited to end approximately at the word limit.

What are the two most important issues facing the 2nd District?

Brett Guthrie: Keeping up the tremendous trajectory we have on the economy (more job openings than ever and higher wages) and protecting the Social Security and Medicare safety net are top issues for voters I speak with. I think a third item — national security and funding our military — is also vital to our future. I’ve been a leader on all three fronts.

              Guthrie

Hank Linderman: 1. Health Care: Our current system is too expensive and complex. US health care costs nearly 19 percent of our GDP, and is on track to increase to 26 percent or more by 2040. I support Health Care for All, including protection of your family’s pre-existing condition coverage.

2. Jobs with Livable Wages: The recent Republican $1.5 trillion tax bill adds more than $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, mostly to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations. Less than one-third of the tax cut went to middle and lower income earners. American workers must earn a living wage. I support increasing the minimum wage.

Thomas Loecken: Global Warming. It’s here and it’s man-made. If you value the world you will leave to your children then this needs to be addressed. They knew as early as the 1960-70s that continuing to use fossil fuels would hurt the climate and ultimately to the detriment of the planet.

But it’s not all doom and glum, it’s man-made then man can fix it. Things that need to be done to fix this and it should be done now and it should be an ongoing process, not denied. They have machines that takes carbon out of the air.

(Editor’s note: This answer was edited to remain within the word limit)

What do you think the role of a U.S. representative is and how can you be most effective?

Hank Linderman: I believe the role is serve and work for the needs of all the people, not just the needs of corporations and the wealthiest citizens. Discourse and deliberation have disappeared from our political process.

While it is fine to disagree, it’s time for all Americans to dial down the rhetoric, speak civilly, and be willing to engage in reasonable conversation in order to find effective solutions for the problems we face together. This is the right way to move forward effectively.

Thomas Loecken: I believe the role of a representative is to see that the needs of their constituents are met, whether it’s healthcare, tax reform, jobs, infrastructure, and also to investigate wrong doing against federal law and the constitution, amongst others.

I will work to roll back changes that have been made to our clean air, water and land acts. A lot of these have been changed to cause worry about health and well-being.

                   Linderman

Brett Guthrie: My role is to be a voice for the people I represent and to ensure their best interests are represented on the House floor. I do that by providing top-notch constituent services in my district offices and by faithfully representing this district’s conservative values in the votes I cast in Washington.

It is also my job to be part of solutions-based lawmaking, which is why I’ve forged bipartisan coalition to pass bills dealing with workforce development, the opioid crisis, and reauthorizing the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

My goal in the future is to keep voting for pro-growth policies so people can find jobs with higher wages, and to protect the Social Security and Medicare safety net. It is vital that we take care of opportunities for today’s workers while also fulfilling the promises made to people who spent a lifetime playing by the rules and paying their taxes.

What is one group of people in the 2nd District with an unmet need and what are you doing or what would you do to meet their need?

Thomas Loecken: I think right now every American has unmet needs, to pick one, lets go with raising the minimum wage. When wages are raised the working poor will have extra monies to buy a better car and a home, be able to shop and go out to eat which in turn boosts businesses so they can afford the higher wage. They will also contribute more into Social Security and medical care, which in turn has the businesses wages taking care of its employees instead of the taxpayer.

Brett Guthrie: I think young people always have unmet needs, and they look to their parents’ generation for leadership and to leave a better world behind.

An issue I’m passionate about is ending the crippling student debt crisis, which is why I wrote the “Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act.” This law provides tools and information to students to help them make better decisions and to fully grasp the amount of loans they are taking out and how it might affect their future.

Hank Linderman: Everyone in the district believes their health care needs are not being met, so fixing our health care and improving the system to serve the people instead of corporate profits is job number one. I also think we’re not yet meeting the needs of families with members who are addicted to drugs, and so the opioid crisis is another priority which we need to find solutions for as quickly as possible.

What is something being done right in the 2nd District?

Brett Guthrie: Things are looking up for Kentucky workers. We have more job openings than people looking for work, which is putting upward pressure on wages. Republican policies have played a large role in spurring the good economic news, and I want to keep it rolling.

I worked with President Trump on middle class tax cuts and regulatory reform, both of which have helped put Kentuckians back to work. Unemployment is dropping, and wages are rising at the fastest rate in a decade. The second district is benefiting from a better economy. I know for a fact that no one will outwork Kentuckians.

                                      Loecken

Hank Linderman: Well I see more folks struggling than I see people succeeding, so there’s not a lot to applaud or crow about at this moment. The 2nd district is an undeveloped gem. We’re the home of the Everly Brothers, the home of bluegrass music, the home of the corvette, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, but we’re invisible outside of the state, and that’s wrong.

Thomas Loecken: Something will always go right, but the quantity of bad outweighs it, in this time and with this administration, so I don’t think people notice it.

Who are three people you look up to or consider your role models?

Hank Linderman: I think a lot about Robert Kennedy’s ability to change course when he made mistakes, and I admire the Kennedy family ideal of “to those who much is given, much is expected.”

Abraham Lincoln is a role model to me because he was simply trying to do the right thing for the people.

Muhammed Ali, who believed and practiced the idea “Impossible is Nothing.” This concept inspires me because personally I enjoy the steep side of the slope.

Thomas Loecken: (left blank)

Brett Guthrie: I look up to my late uncle, Bobby Guthrie, who died defending our nation in Korea. His brother — my father — is another role model, who taught me the importance of hard work and how to run an ethical business that does right by its employees.

For historical figures, I look up to Winston Churchill, who stood up to the Nazis and was a critical part of the team that saved western civilization.

What sets you apart from your opponents and why should voters trust you?

Thomas Loecken: I’m the best candidate because I will accomplish what needs to be done, what the people want. I’m on the ground in all the counties I hear what they’re saying and they’re not happy, they’re mad. I’m not wishy washy on the issues, I don’t take corporate PAC monies.

I won’t lie to you and you’ll always know where I stand. I won’t go to Washington and vote against your best interest, your benefits and then come back and tell you I didn’t vote against Social Security, health care and real tax reform.

Brett Guthrie: I’m running to leave a better world behind for our children and grandchildren. My business and military experience gives me tremendous insight into critical issues facing our nation. I will fight to make sure every individual, business and Kentucky community has the opportunity to prosper.

It’s a simple choice — a vote for Brett Guthrie and the Republican majority is a vote to keep a good economy rolling. A vote for my opponent is a vote for: amnesty for illegal immigrants, for higher taxes, for socialized medicine, and to put Nancy Pelosi back in charge of the U.S. House.

People can trust me because I tell the truth. I vote my conscience and the values of the Second District. And I will never say no to any colleague — Democrat or Republican — who comes to me in good faith wanting to work on problems that affect people in our district.

Hank Linderman: I’m not a career politician. I’ve worked all my life and only get paid when I work. I understand the struggles of working people. As a professional musician, I understand the necessity and value of collaboration versus compromise.

I’m always available and talk to the folks who reach out to talk to me. I want to be known and remembered as a man who serves and works for the people.

SO YOU KNOW

Read tomorrow’s Advocate-Messenger for a candidate comparison article on the race for state representative in Boyle and Casey counties.