U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green knows he has a lot of new ground to cover in a relatively short period of time, and he’s already heard the concerns some people have about the distance between his home and theirs.
“I’m going to spend the time getting to know people here,” Guthrie, who represents Kentucky’s 2nd District, said Tuesday. “I will guarantee that by the time of the election, people will know me better and will see how committed I am.”
Guthrie, who picked up Boyle, Garrard and Mercer counties in a recent congressional realignment, got a tour of Centre College’s campus from school President John Roush on Tuesday, along with a crash course on all things Boyle County from local officials over lunch.
He said he was already familiar with the college and had worked with state Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Boyle County, and Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership President Jody Lassiter during his time in the state legislature.
While the law setting the new congressional boundaries is final, counties will keep their current representatives until January 2013, so Tuesday’s visit was actually a campaign stop. Guthrie, a Republican, is unopposed in the primary, and it would take a sizable upset in the November general election for him not to be the 2nd District representative for the next two years.
His opposition on the Democrat side is David Lynn Williams of Glasgow, a perennial candidate known mostly for the similarity between his name and that of Kentucky Senate President David L. Williams.
Although he said he wasn’t very involved in brokering the agreement that ultimately shifted several local counties to western Kentucky districts, Guthrie said he had hoped to keep his former district intact because of how well he had known his constituents there.
He was scheduled to be in Garrard County on Tuesday afternoon, Mercer and Jessamine counties today, and will spend congressional breaks over the next several months making other campaign stops in the area.
Guthrie is in his second term after winning the seat previously held by Ron Lewis in 2008 and retaining the seat in 2010. Prior to being elected to Congress, Guthrie served eight years as a state senator.
Guthrie is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as a field artillery officer in the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell before joining his family’s business, Trace Die Cast in Bowling Green. He also earned a master’s degree in public and private management from Yale University.
Guthrie and his wife, Beth, have three children.
In an interview with an Advocate-Messenger reporter and editor, he spoke about some of his recent work as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, including the economy and the controversial health-care legislation scheduled for review by the Supreme Court later this year.
Guthrie had a front-row seat for the heated debate over what is referred to by opponents as “Obamacare,” and has consistently opposed the law. In addition to agreeing with other conservatives that individual mandates to buy health insurance are unconstitutional, including the attorneys general who have challenged the law, Guthrie said he believes many young people will opt to pay a fine that is cheaper than the actual insurance policy.
Instead, Guthrie has joined those who are in favor of replacing the health-care law with measures such as permitting people to shop for insurance across state lines.
He also favors granting an exemption from anti-trust laws that would allow certain types of businesses, such as a group of car dealerships, to pool their employees together to buy health insurance.
Guthrie has focused on workforce reinvestment and development and a manufacturing sector he said has a 20 percent higher cost of doing business than competitors in other countries, in part because of the corporate tax structure.
Guthrie said he is also troubled by the country’s approach to energy exploration.
He supported the so-called PIONEERS Act, which passed the House essentially along party lines this month, and calls for allowing exploration and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and the development of the Keystone XL pipeline running from Canada to Texas, among other projects.
Although the presidential race is heating up, Guthrie said he hasn’t made up his mind about who to back in the Republican primary. Not surprisingly, though, he doesn’t plan on crossing party lines.
“We have to make a change,” Guthrie said. “I’m just looking for who is the best person for the job.”