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Hal Rogers is getting challenged ... from the right

So who is this challenger, and how did he raise all that money?

3 min read

The FEC campaign finance reports were due earlier this month, so I decided to scan them to see if any of the challengers to our six Congress-folk had raised any money to speak of.

For five of the six districts, the results were pretty much what I expected.

But, in the 5th District, there was a surprise. Hal Rogers, the Republican incumbent, had raised $368,360. But his Republican opponent, Dr. Dana Edwards, had raised $306,721!

I was shocked. Who was this Dr. Edwards, and how had he managed to match fund-raising with Congressional fixture Rogers?

A closer look

After my initial surprise, I dug into the report a little deeper. And lo and behold, Edwards hadn’t actually raised almost as much as Rogers. Instead, the good doctor had loaned his campaign $260,000.

Not that he hadn’t done any fund-raising. His latest report shows 23 individual contributions totaling a little over $22,000, which puts him way ahead of all the challengers listed above.

But still – if you’re going to take on the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives (22 terms!), you’d better be ready to step up your campaign game. And considering Rogers’s report showed 174 individual contributions totaling over $177,000, it looks as if Dr. Edwards is trying to spend his way into Congress, rather than working the district.

The doctor’s political pedigree

Since Hal Rogers was the only one of our representatives in Washington to vote to overturn the 2020 election, I had hope that someone in his district considered that a disqualifying fact, and was taking him on from the middle (or middle-right).

No such luck.

No, when I went to the Dana Edwards for Congress web site and scrolled down the home page, I saw that his email sign-up form says “Join our movement! With your help, we can defeat the Woke Leftists!”

Huh. Not sure I would say Hal Rogers is a “woke leftist.”

And when you go to his Issues page, here’s his list of important issues:

  • Pro-Life, Pro-2nd Amendment, and Pro-Medical Freedom
  • Will be the only Kentucky Congressman to Join the Freedom Caucus
  • Bring Back Our Coal Industry
  • Secure the Border and Stop the Fentanyl Epidemic
  • Reshore Manufacturing Jobs to the United States
  • Supports Term-Limits, School Choice, and a National Ban on Child Sex-Change Clinics.
  • Open National Parks and Forests to ATV riders.

So, a standard-issue right winger who wants to be part of the Freedom Caucus in the House, and hits pretty much all the hot-button issues on the right – plus a few I’m unfamiliar with. “Medical freedom”? Is that about masks, or vaccines, or refusing to provide health care due to “conscience”? And what’s this about ATV riders in parks? I didn’t know that was a hot issue. (But, perhaps it is in that district.)

Finally, compare that right-wing red-meat list of issues with this short bio:

Dr. Dana Edwards has spent his life in service to those most needy. He served for five years as a surgeon at Veterans Administration, began a rural clinic to treat victims of drug addiction in Southeast Kentucky, and began a charity to build group homes so mothers who have recovered from drug addiction can live with their children.

Huh, again. He should be a Democrat.

The doctor’s chances

At this point, with the primary just a few months away, I’d say Edwards has no shot at upsetting the “Dean of the House.” If he had a significant number of small-dollar donors, or a good-sized staff, then perhaps he could do it. But considering his disbursements show no expenses for staff, but over $60,000 to a Wisconsin consulting firm, I’m not sure what, exactly, he is trying to do.

So, in the end, my initial shock at the closeness of the fund-raising numbers turned into disappointment. No Democrat is running against Rogers, and the only Republican running against him leads with the term “woke leftists.”

Hal Rogers voted with Trump over 96% of the time. He voted against Trump’s impeachment. And as noted above, he voted to overturn the 2020 election.

But he will be re-elected, easily. And the reddest part of Kentucky will continue to be represented by the “Dean of the House,” no matter his voting record.


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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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