Republican Senatorial candidate Rand Paul and his campaign staff demonstrated again this week that they have a lot of catching up to do on their knowledge of eastern Kentucky and its geography.
Paul is a Bowling Green ophthalmologist who is battling Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Jim Bunning. It was through Paul’s words and not his skills as an eye surgeon that he raised many eyebrows in the mountains last month when he proclaimed that eastern Kentucky residents don’t have problems when it comes to accessing good drinking water.
In an interview with Lexington Herald-Leader
reporter Dori Hjalmarson, Paul indicated that he had no idea that many eastern Kentucky residents lack access to public water systems and instead are forced to depend on home wells which more often than not are fed by water sources that have been ruined by years of coal mining activity.
When informed by Hjalmarson that the 1990 Census showed that more than half of eastern Kentucky’s residents complained of hard water that stinks of sulfur and turns clothes orange, Paul replied: “The water didn’t look orange to me coming straight out of the coalfields.” Paul also asked: “Aren’t there municipal water standards?”
Paul’s exchange with Hjalmarson led Jasmine Farrier, associate professor of political science at the University of Louisville, to caution Paul not to appear to be out of touch with mountain voters.
On April 6, Paul’s campaign sent an e-mail to members of the media inviting them for some “one-on-one time with Dr. Paul” at Reno’s Steakhouse in “Hazzard, Ky.” Apparently, the staff er knows more about “Dukes of Hazzard” television reruns than he does the real Hazard.