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When the state legislature approved the new Congressional districts last year, Marion County was moved into the First Congressional District, which predominantly consists of counties in the most western parts of Kentucky.
As a result, Marion County voters will be casting their ballots for candidates who may be unfamiliar. Incumbent Congressman Ed Whitfield is a Republican from Hopkinsville, and he has represented Kentucky's First Congressional District since 1994. The challenger, Democrat Charles Kendall Hatchett, lives on a small farm near Soldier Creek.
Both candidates have visited Marion County in an effort to learn a little about the county and its needs.
Both conducted phone interviews with the Enterprise last week, and transcripts of those interviews are available here http://www.lebanonenterprise.com/content/us-representative-candidate-cha... and here
Hatchett, 61, first decided to run out of concern about Whitfield's previous support for a proposed "fair tax." Hatchett said this would have placed a 23-percent sales tax on purchases in the United States as an alternative to income taxes.
He's also running because of his support for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Hatchett said he had a son born with a heart condition and a daughter who was premature.
"Both times the insurance companies kind of trumped me," Hatchett said.
While many Kentucky Democrats have distanced themselves from President Barack Obama, Hatchett has been more vocal in his support. That's not to say he agrees with everything the President has done, but he doesn't think the Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, will be as concerned with the average American.
"I don't know how we'll do this time, but I'm for the little guy," Hatchett said.
He expressed doubt that the "trickle down" approach will get the economy going. He also indicated he would favor a tariff on products that are imported to the United States because a company outsourced its labor somewhere else.
"Our forefathers lost their fortunes, you know, to form this country, and now we got people making a fortune trying to outsource the American way of life down to pennies on the dollar," Hatchett said.
He said he prefers the President's proposal to lower taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year, and he supports raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
Hatchett has worked in a variety of areas, including farming, auctioneering, and real estate, and one of the focal points of his campaign is creating a council to help him make the big decisions. This council would consist of members appointed by the state senators who serve in the First Congressional District. He said the council would advise him how to vote on major issues. For example, on the Farm Bill, he said he would want to make sure he got input from large and small farmers.
He supports using Kentucky coal to provide our electric power. He also supports placing small generators in Kentucky's rivers to harness hydro-electric power, noting that Kentucky has more coastline than Florida.
"Really water is our best asset for the green technology," Hatchett said.
On foreign affairs, Hatchett said he trusts Obama, noting that he got Osama bin Laden and handled his burial in a way that Hatchett wouldn't have thought of. He said he agrees with the President's plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by 2014 and with his use of drones.
He added that he does not think Obama is a Muslim, but he does think Obama's background may give him an advantage over Romney.
"I'm gonna trust the President on what he's doing, but I'll pray for him because I don't know if any man knows exactly what to do on some of this," Hatchett said.
Hatchett said he thinks the United States should support Israel in its showdown with Iran over nuclear weapons. He said he doesn't know why Iran hates the United States, although he said the US did provide sanctuary to the shah of Iran after he stole money from the Iranian people.
Nevertheless, he reiterated that the U.S. should support Israel.
"This is one where we need a lot of prayer warriors because, you know, this could be really a big one if we get all the superpowers in on this one," Hatchett said.
He also said Americans should be less worried about being politically correct.
"I think we need to be tolerant and compassionate to people, but also, I don't think we need to be afraid to pray in public when we can, or if we don't, to at least pray to the God of Bible in Jesus name," Hatchett said.
He added that he thinks too many Americans are worried about the bottom line rather than about doing what is best for the country.
"I'm human. I make mistakes. I want to try to be helpful, but that's one reason I want to try to have a council," Hatchett said. "The older I get, the more I realize I don't know as much as I think I do."
Whitfield, 69, is the first Republican elected to serve in the House of Representatives from Kentucky's First District, and he has served in that position since 1994. He said he is running again because he disagrees with the President's approach on a wide variety of issues, ranging from health care to taxes to energy.
"This president has us going in the wrong direction," Whitfield said. "I think his policies are bad for America."
Obamacare is one of the biggest examples of Whitfield's disagreements with the administration. He said he didn't like how the bill was passed without the opportunity to offer amendments, but he also believes the President's approach is the wrong way to fix health care.
Rather than "federalizing" health care, Whitfield said he would prefer to encourage more extensive use of community health centers. Like Mitt Romney, Whitfield accused Obama of taking $500 billion in Medicare funding to pay to implement his version of health care reform, which includes 21 new taxes, according to Whitfield.
"It's been quite disappointing the way that he has pursued a political agenda of federalizing health care to the detriment of the American people," Whitfield said.
Whitfield previously served in the state legislature. He's worked for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, and he's worked in federal government before being elected to serve in Congress, where he has served as chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
"I also understand that one of the major problems in Congress today is that Congress needs to be reformed as an institution itself," he said.
Whitfield said he supports extending the tax cuts implemented under the George W. Bush Administration. Whitfield also said lower taxes and lower energy costs will help economic growth.
"This President is increasing the cost of energy because his Environmental Protection Agency is issuing a multitude of very costly regulations that is going to increase the cost of electricity in America," Whitfield said.
Whitfield said the Farm Bill will be a priority if he is elected, adding that the big concern with the Farm Bill is food stamps, which falls under the Department of Agriculture. He said the number of food stamp recipients has increased dramatically under Obama because the President is taking the wrong approach to economic growth.
Whitfield said Obama wasted stimulus money promoting green energy companies like Solyndra when he should have been easing regulations that affect oil drilling on public lands. And Whitfield supports coal as a resource in meeting America's energy needs.
On foreign policy, he said he agrees with Obama that American troops need to withdraw from Afghanistan, but he thinks the President is making a mistake by announcing that will happen in 2014.
"I would not be broadcasting to the world the exact date that we're gonna be leaving," Whitfield said. "But having said that, I will have a goal to get out of there as soon as I possibly could."
Whitfield added that the recent attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, proves that al Qaeda remains a threat.
He and Hatchett agreed that the United States should continue to support Israel. Whitfield said the United States should do everything possible to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, although he acknowledged that he does not know if the U.S. can ensure that will never happen.
Whitfield concluded by saying he hopes to have the opportunity to represent Marion County following the Nov. 6 election.
"I genuinely believe with the right tax law, with the right energy policies, with the reduction of regulatory obstacles, we truly can stimulate this economy," he said.
Want to learn more about these candidates?
Read the transcripts of their interviews at www.lebanonenterprise.com.
Check out the voter guides on http://www.votekentucky.us/
Do you have questions about statements on individual issues?
Websites like factcheck.org and www.politifact.com can help you sort out what's true and what isn't.