The Louisville Tea Party will hold a forum featuring several local candidates running for Congress, Metro Council and the Jefferson County school board, but the group’s leader is criticizing Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth for not attending.
The forum is being moderated by 84 WHAS radio host Mandy Connell on Thursday, and is expected to draw more than 100 people.
Candidates running for the Kentucky General Assembly are also invited to the forum, and Louisville Tea Party President Sarah Durand says the event will question those candidates on issues that other groups and the mainstream media have overlooked.
“We plan on asking the state Representative and state Senate candidates about pension reform, which we have not heard enough about in the media,” she says. “With the school board, I haven’t seen anybody asking them about raising our taxes every single year. We plan to ask the school board candidates how they feel about that and how they would deal with budget shortfalls if they’re not in favor of raising our taxes every year.”
Last month, school board members approved a 3.4 percent increase in property taxes, which is the fifth straight year they’ve done so. The increase will generate about $17 million for the district, and cost homeowners approximately $23 for every $100,000 their property is worth.
Several candidates from both parties have agreed to attend the Tea Party forum to explain their positions, but rank-and-file activists are disappointed Yarmuth has declined.
“We don’t disagree on everything with him,” says Durand.
The Tea Party leader praised Yarmuth, for instance, as a co-sponsor of a bill calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve but Durand adds that the Democratic lawmaker may be afraid of facing the group’s tough questions.
“I would like him to try and spend more time with our members, explain where he’s coming and explain his vision for the state and for the country a little bit better. I would like to see him cater to us a little bit more because we are his constituents,” she says.
Yarmuth’s campaign manager says he can’t make the event because Congress is in session this week, adding there will be plenty of time for debates and forums. The Yarmuth camp also notes that he appears on Connell’s program every other week and that the conservative talk show host praised him for doing so in a recent article.
From Louisville Magazine:
“And every time I hit that button and he’s there, I’m just floored,” Connell says. “Because he knows that I’m not going to give him a pass on anything. I give him so much crap … But I have an immense respect for him for being willing to go into any arena and face anyone.”
But the campaign for Yarmuth’s Republican challenger Brooks Wicker, who plans to attend the forum, argues he doesn’t want to address his record or the failing economy.
“I’m not surprised at all. I wouldn’t expect the congressman to show up and be accountable for his economic record. But he makes it back to the district for every ribbon cutting he can,” says Wicker campaign manager Michael Wray. “I think it’s time that Congressman Yarmuth stands up, especially to people like the Louisville Tea Party and be accountable for that record.”
The forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Austin’s Restaurant in east Louisville.