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Local voters won't have much to decide when they go to the polls May 22.
Republicans will be able to vote for possible presidential candidates, while Democrats will cast their ballots to decide who will challenge Congressman Ed Whitfield in November.
Republicans will have four options to select as their preferred presidential nominees, although according to many in the national media, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee who will challenge President Barack Obama in the fall.
Romney is one of four Republican candidates whose names will appear on the ballot. The others are former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Santorum and Gingrich have both dropped out of the race.
Romney served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, but he has touted his work in the private sector throughout the campaign. According to his website, America "must take decisive action to roll back the misguided policies of the last three years, empower our citizens, and restore the foundations of our nation's strength."
Paul has represented Texas in the United States Congress in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He returned to Congress in 1997. Paul is an Air Force veteran and physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. Paul is described on his website as "the leading spokesman in Washington for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency."
The Enterprise contacted both the Romney and Paul campaigns, but neither replied to requests for interviews. To learn more about the candidates, visit their websites mittromney.com and ronpaul2012.com.
Democratic congressional contenders
A pair of self-described Western Kentucky Democrats are seeking the nomination to challenge incumbent Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield for Kentucky's First Congressional District seat. Marion County was moved from the Second District to the First District as a result of the redistricting approved by the state legislature earlier this year.
Dr. James Buckmaster of Henderson and Charles Hatchett of Benton will appear on the Democratic ballot on Tuesday.
Buckmaster knew that Marion County was near Liberty. Hatchett said he thought Marion County was near Butler County, but he admitted he needed to look into the 34 counties in the district.
The First District includes 34 complete counties and a portion of Washington County.
Buckmaster, 53, is a graduate of Henderson County High School, Brescia College (now Brescia University) and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He has worked as a physician in Henderson since 1987. He and his wife, Marcia, have been married for 31 years and they have eight children.
As a physician he said he is used to gathering information, identifying problems and making a decision, and he is used to being held accountable for those decisions as well.
"That's what a congressman does. He gets information and he has to figure out what the truth is and based on those facts, make the correct decision," Buckmaster said.
On specific issues, he said the United States needs to drill for more oil, build a pipeline, become more energy independent and import oil from friendly countries, like Canada. He also said he remains an advocate of coal as an energy source for electricity.
"If we lower the cost of energy, then the economy will begin to respond in a favorable way," Buckmaster said. "Most of people's extra money is going into their gas tank."
With regard to green energy, he said if businesses aren't willing to take a chance and spend money on it, then it probably isn't a good investment for taxpayers money.
Buckmaster said he would support lowering corporate taxes, which is a step he said John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan both took.
"It's already been proven to work twice. We have to do something to help these companies," Buckmaster said.
On health care, he said he runs the Corpus Christi Clinic in Henderson, which serves the uninsured and underinsured.
"We have to have something to help these people, but Obamacare is not the right prescription," he said. "Obamacare is going to kill the jobs that these people survive off of. It is going to kill the doctor-patient relationship, and literally, if you're old enough, it's going to kill you."
Buckmaster said he has his own health care plan. For the 10 million people without insurance, he has proposed a government-subsidized premium, which would require individuals who qualify financially to pay around $250 for insurance premiums.
"If they pay for it, they own it and they'll respect it and they won't abuse it," Buckmaster said.
He also proposed a $5,000 deductible and allowing tax-deductible health savings accounts for those individuals.
With regard to the federal budget, Buckmaster supports 5 percent cuts to the non-defense areas. He said that it's not the time to cut back on defense spending. Buckmaster added that he would also be in favor of cutting back on funding to non-friendly countries.
He would like more education decisions to be made by the state and local school boards, and he said the country needs to find a way to reduce costs associated with Medicare.
Buckmaster said the federal government can monitor the drug problem, but the best thing it can do to reduce it is to encourage people to stay married.
"Kids raised in a home with a mother and father with instilled values and a conscience will do wonders," he said. "You'll empty your jails. You'll get rid of your drug problems."
On his website, buckmasterforcongress.com, Buckmaster notes that he opposes abortion, the death penalty and same sex partnership benefits, and that he supports teacher-led prayer in schools, gun ownership rights, school vouchers, citizenship for legal immigrants and extending the wiretap provisions of the PATRIOT Act.
Buckmaster said it's important to send a fiscal conservative and an advocate of life to Congress. He also said people frequently ask him how he can be a conservative and a Democrat.
"I say that they don't understand what western Kentucky Democrats are," he said. "Conservative Democrats changed the election in 2010... Those people didn't change their registration. They voted their conscience."
Hatchett, 60, lives on a farm in McCracken County. He has raised cattle, goats and hogs. He is also a fourth-generation real estate broker and an auctioneer. He is a graduate of Lone Oak High School and Paducah Community College.
He is also proposing a new approach to reducing the influence of Washington D.C. on Kentucky's First District representative's decisions.
He would like to create a 10-member council, which would include the federal representative, with council members from throughout the district. He said if he is elected, he will pay the council out of his own salary.
"What we're trying to do is take away from the special interests and also putting your finger up and seeing which way the wind blows, and then whoever sends you a check, that's the way you vote," Hatchett said. "We want to get the people back involved in it."
He added that he'd also prefer for every member of his Congressional staff to be a western Kentuckian rather than a Washington resident.
"With the information and technology we have... it could be possible that we could run the district from here anyway," Hatchett said.
He said his plan would be for the council to review any vote, particularly on big issues like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
With regard to Obamacare, Hatchett said changes may be needed, but there are many things he liked about the bill. He said we need some way to make health care that is affordable, and part of that is controlling the costs and fees.
"When you think of a bottle of peroxide on your medical bill, it's $2 at Wal-mart; it's $200 on your bill," Hatchett said.
He said it's hard for poor people to make it.
"We need to get our jobs back and start making living wages where in the same week you can have bread, milk, meat, and possibly a tank of gas," Hatchett said.
Hatchett said he has been asked his view on same sex marriage in light of President Obama's statement last week supporting the idea.
"With the man and the woman, marriage is pretty complicated. How much more complicated will it be whenever it's same sex?" Hatchett said.
He admitted that he's had two failed marriages (one 13 years and one 21 years), so he couldn't give testimony to how well it does. He also said he wonders if allowing same sex marriage would give gays and lesbians the fulfillment they are seeking.
On his website, hatchettforcongress.net, Hatchett noted that he stands for praying in Jesus name, revamping trade agreements so companies using foreign labor are paying wages equivalent to the U.S. minimum wage, and being committed to the people.
Returning to the idea of the council, Hatchett said he wants to make sure all the people of the district are represented, including the Amish and Mennonites who don't vote.
He added that, if he is elected, the First District will go along with the Republicans some times and with the Democrats other times.
"We want this district to be where it's really something that God would be pleased if he's looking down," Hatchett said. "This sounds a little bit out of tune now, but we started out with the God of the Bible that we pledged allegiance to... and now we've shoved him completely out."