The Democratic challenger taking on Republican Incumbent Congressman James Comer for Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District said he will be “more accessible” and therefore better able to represent the people in his district. James Rhodes’ platform is founded on the idea that he’s a “common man” who will lead with “common sense.”
Rhodes said he’s a working man whose background in labor positions and as a union representative give him perspective that could benefit the constituents he represents: he understands the hardships of the average, working families and has decades of experience negotiating contracts.
“I feel I could do a better job because of my experience. I’ve been a working man all my life and raised a family. The working men and women, they need support,” he said. “[Republicans] are trying to break their unions, they’re trying to take their pensions, their social security, their Medicaid, they’re even trying to take the SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] program away, which would desperately hurt our children. Things have to change.”
Rhodes said his ability to negotiate would extend across the aisle. He said he believes that’s how business should be managed “from the President on down,” identifying policies that aren’t working and making compromises on both sides to create a solution.
“We’ve got to do better for our people,” he said. “What looks better to me is giving our people the representation that they deserve, which I feel they have not gotten in the past four years or longer. Even clear back under [former Congressman Ed] Whitfield, I don't feel that they got the representation that they needed. And you know, you can go and fight for your people. You don't turn your backs on them. If they’ve got problems, my office door would always be open.”
Rhodes said he spent the first 19 years of his life on a farm, and even though he’s not a career farmer, he remembers the intensive labor and long hours required. He said that’s why, if elected, one of his main priorities will be helping the farmers who’ve been harmed by the trade wars with China. He noted some reports indicate farming bankruptcy has increased by as much as 20% during the trade wars.
“The farmers are getting a raw deal with our present trade policies. They're not getting the support, they're not getting the proper price for their products,” he said. “We'll actually represent the constituents of our district, not represent a political party. We need somebody that can walk across the aisle, shake hands and say, ‘Hey, I know we have differences. Let's work together. Let's compromise, let's get something done for our constituents.’”
Regarding his support in favor of police reform, Rhodes said he is not in favor of defunding police. He said he believes “sensitivity training” is a large part of police reform talks. But he said an even more important facet of reform is involving an underrepresented population of the community in the search for solutions.
“We need to meet with the Black community, get their thoughts, their views. And we need to start working together, as one, for the betterment of the community,” he said. “This racial injustice has got to stop and the best way I can see to stop it is to get the whole community involved.”
Rhodes is a U.S. Army veteran with several years of union leadership experience. The West Virginia native moved to western Kentucky in 1985 and now resides in Kevil.