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[AUDIO] Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts Talks Underdog Bid for Congress

Adam Elliott

While Democrat Sam Gaskins is running unopposed in the race to represent Kentucky's 1st Congressional District, Republican voters will choose between three candidates in the May 17 primary. Rep. Ed Whitfield, an 11-term incumbent, is retiring.

John Null spoke with those Republican candidates this week, including Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts. To hear the conversation with Whitfield's former field director, Mike Pape, click here. For former Kentucky agriculture commissioner James Comer's interview, click here.

Batts says he joined the race because it's time for the 1st District to send an "average person" to Washington. He claims he's the only candidate in the race that has visited all 35 counties in the district during this campaign.

"Meeting someone face-to-face means a lot more than any form letter, any robocall and I think that comes out when you see our grassroots network and how it's grown. We've kind of had what we call a community campaign team that's sprung up around us."

Batts, like Pape, has said he will join the conservative House Freedom Caucus if elected.

"I think having someone that's going to go to Washington and work with like-minded conservatives and not just bend with their political will to try and further their own career as we've seen time and time again is what we're looking for."

On what separates himself from his primary opponents:

Credit Jason Batts, via Facebook
Jason Batts talks with a voter at the Hickman County Chicken Fest

"I think ultimately the big difference is our resume. Mr. Pape spent 21 years as a government aide. Mr. Comer spent 16 years running for one office after another. I'm a small business owner. I'm a soldier. I'm a prosecutor. Ultimately, I think the big difference among us is, if you want to send someone up there that's going to offer more of the same, I'm probably not your candidate. But if you want someone that's going to talk honestly about the issues, someone that's going to stand up for the values of Kentucky's 1st District and someone's that going to do what they say they're going to do when they get to Washington - I'm certainly standing up for those ideals."

Batts calls Kentucky a "critical battlefield" in the so-called "war on coal" that many conservatives turn to in their talking points.

"We don't need individuals that are going to look past coal. We need to look past the career politicians who have been up there and helped put this country in the shape that it is. We have to get away from the carrot and stick energy policy that President Obama has implemented, where these alternative energy sources that simply aren't economically viable get all the carrots while Kentucky's coal gets a lot of the stick."

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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