GOP attack mailer ‘not Rotary-worthy’

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A Republican mass-mailer might nudge Martha Emmons to victory in the close third state House district race tomorrow.

She’s the Democrat in the race.

Emmons, who lives in Paducah, believes the mailer has boomeranged on her opponent, Randy Bridges.

Emmons says the card has boosted donations to her campaign and further fired up her base. It seems to be winning over independent and undecided voters, too.

Paid for by the state GOP, the mailer claims Emmons belongs to “a liberal organization that trains left-wing pro-amnesty candidates to create sanctuary cities.”

The “liberal organization” is Emerge Kentucky, a program that recruits and schools women to run for office as Democrats.

The mailer is another example of “why we see so many women supporting the Democratic party,” said Emerge founder and board chair Jennifer Moore. “Emerge trains women to run for office, period.”

A Louisville attorney, Moore grew up in Paducah. The flier “is just like Gov. Bevin and the Republican Party. Once again, they are engaged in a really low, desperate campaign tactic.”

After the fliers hit district mailboxes, “people started making donations who had not been donating,” said Emmons, who is wrapping up her first run for public office.

The third district rambles through part of McCracken County and Paducah, the county seat.

The House seat opened when veteran Democrat Gerald Watkins stepped down to run for the city commission. He’s backing Emmons over Bridges, whom he beat in 2014.

Emmons has heard from plenty of friends who say the mailer is way out of bounds. A local business owner told her that he and his spouse were “outraged at the kind of advertising [Bridges]…is doing.”

The owner and Bridges are in the Paducah Rotary Club. The owner told Bridges that the ad was “not Rotary-worthy.”

The owner’s wife phoned Emmons and asked, “Can we get a four-by-four [Emmons] sign for our yard?”

She said another man came into the bike store she and her husband own and wrote a $100 check to the Emmons campaign. “It seems to me [the ad] is getting me more support than less support.”

The mailer also says, “Martha Emmons is not on the side of Kentucky gun owners” and supports policies—meaning Democratic policies—that got the state “designated as the worst-run and most corrupt state in America.”

Bridges has been blasted on social media over the flier. Evidently feeling the heat, he apologized to Emmons “for the nasty politics” at a Paducah candidate forum.

“I thought, ‘Score one for Martha,’” Emmons said. “It reminded me of a sports competition: ‘You just scored points, Martha.’”

Emmons is guardedly optimistic as poll opening-time draws nigh. “I feel pretty good but I’m cautious because I’ve never done this before,” she said, adding that she senses “the wind is at my back.”


Emmons was one of three Kentucky State AFL-CIO-endorsed legislative candidates who introduced themselves at Sunday’s annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet in Paducah.

Like Emmons, Democrats Julie Tennyson and Linda Story Edwards had never run for office. They, too, are in evidently close races.

Tennyson is challenging Danny Carroll (R-Paducah) in the second state Senate district which sprawls over Ballard, Carlisle, Marshall, and McCracken counties.

Said Tennyson, a Paducah attorney: “I’m feeling good about it—I am so happy with the enthusiasm and all the people that have volunteered to help me.

“I’ve learned that it’s important to remain positive and enthusiastic and to listen very much to voters’ concerns. In some cases, I’ve helped voters solve problems.”

The candidate pointed to the time she played valet at the annual St. Charles Catholic Church picnic in Carlisle County.

“This elderly man said, ‘I really need my truck, do you think you can go get it for me and park it right here?’”

Tennyson asked him for the keys. “The man said, ‘Well, they are up near the sun visor in that little hole.”

Tennyson fetched the truck. “Will he vote for me?” she said smiling. “I hope he will. He said he would.”

Edwards, a retired Benton teacher, said she feels like a winner already. “But we’ll have to wait and see.”

She’s running for the sixth House district seat that opened when Democrat Will Coursey retired to run for Marshall County judge-executive.

He is backing Edwards over her opponent, Republican Chris Freeland, one of her former students.

The district includes Marshall, Lyon, and part of McCracken County.

Edwards said the economy, jobs, and education are the main issues voters are talking about to her.


The NAACP does not endorse candidates or political parties.

In addition to Emmons, Tennyson and Edwards, Democrats and Republicans seeking McCracken County offices and candidates for the city commission running on the nonpartisan ticket also took turns at the mike.

Neither Bridges, Carroll, nor Freeland attended the banquet.

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Cross-posted with permission from the KY AFL-CIO site.

Berry Craig
Berry Craig of Mayfield is a professor emeritus of history at West Kentucky Community College in Paducah and an author of five books on the Civil War in Kentucky. The last one, published by the University Press of Kentucky, is Kentucky’s Rebel Press: Pro-Confederate Media in the Civil War. His critically-acclaimed Kentucky Confederates: Secession, Civil War, and the Jackson Purchase, also from the University Press, has been reprinted in paperback.

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