Freshman Democrat legislator calls on heavy hitters in re-election bid
Freshman Democrat Rep. Richard Henderson must be running scared that he'll draw an opponent in his re-election bid this year. So he's called on the House leaders from his party and others to help him raise funds and campaign for him.
Henderson, the former Jeffersonville mayor who represents Montgomery and Powell counties and a portion of Wolfe in east-central Kentucky, had a fund-raiser and dinner this week in Powell County. The list of hosts reads like a who's-who of Kentucky Democrats.
Scheduled to attend the dinner were House Speaker Jody Richards; Speaker Pro-Tem Larry Clark; Floor Leader Rocky Adkins; Caucus Chairman Charlie Hoffman and Whip Rob Wilkey. The incoming attorney general, Little Jackie Conway, was also scheduled to attend.
Why would such an esteemed list of House leaders go all the way to Stanton to support a freshman Democrat in a district that's safely in their party's hands?
Henderson emerged from a crowded primary two years ago as Democrats scrambled to replace the retiring Rep. Adrian Arnold. He vaulted over some better-known, longtime Democrat politicians to take the seat. Some of those same big names are expected to challenge him in this year's primary; politicians that are, quite frankly, more experienced, more intelligent and more widely respected than Henderson. One prominent Montgomery County Democrat has already vowed to beat Henderson this year; whether that means he'll run for the office himself or throw support to another candidate, we don't know.
So what's so appealing about Henderson that would bring Richards and Conway and the rest to Powell County to campaign and raise funds for an inexperienced freshman?
Henderson made statewide news recently when he and Rep. Ancel "Hard Rock" Smith from Knott County pre-filed a bill banning public agencies from offering insurance benefits to the shack-up partners of public employees. Can the leadership's early campaign support of Henderson be construed as support for his bill?
We've heard some troubling rumors about Henderson's personal life. We won't repeat them here, other than to speculate if any of the funds raised from this week's dinner will go to support Kentucky's black-market agricultural industry. But what troubles us more are reports that he is trying to personally influence or interfere with the day-to-day operations of state government agencies in his district. Somehow we don't think that's why legislators are elected.
The campaign for the 74th District will bear watching closely. In the meantime, we'd like to find out why the state's Democrat House leaders have jumped in so early behind an obscure freshman legislator.