Batts seeking Whitfield congressional seat
With an enthusiasm usually reserved for the hometown team going off to a state championship, a crowd of well wishers gathered on the Hickman County Courthouse lawn came to cheer a hometown boy on in his entry into a competition as bruising as a state football championship game.
On Thursday October 1, 2015, less than one year after becoming the first Republican elected to countywide office, Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts announced to over 170 supporters that he is running for Congress. Batts' seemingly quixotic quest is the product of a lifetime moving through the Republican political farm club.
The young lawyer is, according to his bio, "the son of a father who started his own carpentry small business, and a mother who serves as a family advocate in the local school system". He graduated from Hickman County High School, where he met his future wife, Dr. Tonia Batts, now a Mayfield optometrist. (pictured at left - Tonia and Jason at Columbus Belmont Park in July 2014 addressing Jackson Purchase Republicans)
Batts earned his Bachelor's Degree from Morehead State University and his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as Editor in Chief of the Law Review.
In 2004, he served as an intern in the George W. Bush White House and worked in various positions on Capitol Hill while serving as a staff member to Kentucky Congresswoman Anne Northrup and Texas Congressman Kenny Marchant.
He came back home to Hickman County and worked for four years as an assistant county attorney in Fulton County He opened his own practice in Clinton. While lawyers don't admittedly specialize, Batts concentrated on farm and ag issues. In addition to his legal career, Batts serves as a judge advocate in the U. S. Army Reserves.
Batts is a co-founder of Jackson Purchase Republican Party, a group that has sponsored Republican candidate events at Columbus Belmont Park. The group sponsored a picnic in August with guest speaker Jeanette Hampton, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor.
Jason Batt's announcement speech was red meat to his conservative supporters. He told the crowd that "You and I are not to be trusted. Democrats think government knows better." He promised legislation to end Planned Parenthood funding and said he stands with the "75% that are against gay marriage and abortion."
There will be plenty of competition. The primary won't be held until May 2016. The field to replace retiring Republican Representative Ed Whitfield is already growing. At this writing, Michael Pape, a former aide to Whitfield and James Comer, Kentucky's Agriculture Commissioner have already announced. Todd P'Pool of Hopkinsville and Bill Bartleman of Paducah are said to be considering a run. On the Democratic side, State Senator Dorsey Ridley of Henderson looks to be in the race. David Ramey of Murray has also been mentioned by WKMS Radio as a potential candidate. Because the district is spread across seventeen counties, it is a good bet that more will get into the race. There is no better chance to get elected to Congress than an open seat.
Candidate Batts told his supporters that "he is not looking for a career" (in politics) and that he wants to "take back our country from career politicians."
Win, lose or draw in the congressional election, Batts is young enough, passionate enough, tall enough and articulate enough, to have a political career - whether he is willing to admit it or not.