Local senate race may be state's best

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One expert calls it the most interesting race in primary

By Moreland Jeff


With the ballots set for the May 20 primary election, the experts are now making predictions.

Among those experts is Ryan Alessi, managing editor of Time Warner Cable's "Pure Politics" program on cn|2. Alessi has covered politics in Kentucky for more than 10 years, including a seven-year stint as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

On Sunday, Alessi published a story at www.mycn2.com proclaiming the top 10 primary races in the state. At the top of that list is one of the most important to voters in Taylor County; the race for the 16th State Senate District seat between incumbent Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, and challenger Max Wise of Campbellsville.

Alessi's evaluation of the race describes it as one that has the potential to cause the most hard feelings once it's over.

"Taylor County Republicans are going all in for Max Wise, the Campbellsville University professor and former FBI analyst. They want a state senator from their end of the 16th District, which covers Taylor, Adair, Russell, Clinton, Cumberland, Wayne and McCreary counties. That could have a ripple effect among GOP circles, especially considering House Republican Whip Bam Carney is a Taylor County Republican. Meanwhile, many incumbent Senate Republicans are rallying for Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello. But she's only represented half of the current district for a little over a year," Alessi's story reported.

When contacted for comment on his prediction, Alessi said, "The 16th Senate primary has all the makings of the most interesting and competitive race this spring. It has geographic rivalry between two smart candidates who are both up on the issues. Plus, both have shown they can fund-raise with more than $100,000 raised for each. So it's going to take good old-fashioned shoe leather and hard work to win the nomination. That's why it already has the attention of the state's political press corps."

Both Gregory and Wise were given the opportunity to comment on Alessi's evaluation of the race.

Wise said career politicians have failed to move Kentucky forward, and just continue kicking the can down the road.

"The excitement you see surrounding this race is generated because voters are tired of career politicians who are more concerned about themselves than the district they represent," Wise said. "This race is important because the voters of the 16th District have an opportunity to elect someone like myself who wants to be a citizen legislator who will fight the overreach of the Obama agenda or return a career politician to Frankfort who oversaw the implementation of Obamacare in our Commonwealth during her time as a legislator.

"I also believe the uniqueness of my background, a husband & father of four who has served in the FBI and is a college professor, represents a unique opportunity for the citizens of the 16th district to have a voice in Frankfort that will help change the status quo and is not a cookie-cutter politician."

Gregory did not provide a response before press time.