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Comer Leads 1st District Fundraising; Pape and Batts Demand Apology Over 'Insulting' Email

Batts, Comer: Candidates' Facebook pages/Pape: Pape for Congress

The latest quarterly fundraising report shows Republican James Comer with a large fundraising advantage in Kentucky's 1st District Congressional race.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, the former state agriculture commissioner has raised a total of $537,583 thus far and has $582,246 cash-on-hand thanks to a $100,000 loan.

Comer's coffers are more than $250,000 ahead of fellow Republican Mike Pape, who had $310,302 cash-on-hand as of the end of March. Pape has raised a total of $375,785. Pape led at the last filing deadline.

Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts is further behind in the Republican primary race, with $113,011 dollars cash-on-hand. Batts has raised a total of $140,165.

Democrat Sam Gaskins of Hopkinsville has raised just $2,500, according to the FEC. Gaskins is the lone Democrat in the race, after Paducah attorney Tom Osborne dropped out due to health reasons.

The fourth Republican candidate - Miles Caughey - did not have any records on the FEC website.

Meanwhile, Pape and Batts have teamed up to demand an apology from Comer over an email they say he sent last month, in which he characterized their supporters as either old, in Pape's case, or unable to own property, in Batts' case.

They say Comer wrote: “A buddy of mine who is a pretty good political observer said that ‘Comer might be the only candidate who puts up any big signs because Michael Pape's supporters are too old to physically put signs up and the Batts boy's supporters don't own any property to put any signs on!' I only repeat that because that theory has a lot of merit!”

“This is yet another example of why James Comer is the typical establishment career politician,” Pape said on Facebook. “His arrogance insults the people who would be his constituents, and he thinks he can get away with it. We demand an apology to the people of our district.”

Comer's campaign responded, calling the move "dirty politics". The campaign touted internal polling showing Comer with a large lead as a reason for Batts and Pape turning "desperate".

"James Comer is talking about the issues the voters care about, not throwing mud over yard signs," said Comer campaign manager Caroline Cash, in a news release. "James Comer will continue to run a positive campaign about balancing the budget, defeating ISIS and securing our border."

The winner in November will succeed retiring 11-term Congressman Ed Whitfield, who has endorsed his former field director, Pape.

Kentucky’s primary election is May 17.

John Null is the host and creator of Left of the Dial. From 2013-2016, he also served as a reporter in the WKMS newsroom.
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