One of the nation’s biggest newsmakers is coming to Somerset today.
Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green will be making several stops around the county today, most notably a unique opportunity to chat with some of the community’s business and institutional leaders.
Paul, the junior U.S. senator for Kentucky along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville, will participate in the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce Business/Community Roundtable discussion, to be held from noon to 1 p.m. today at the Hendrickson facility on Pin Oak Drive off of Ky. 461, across from the Valley Oak Commerce Complex.
“It’s huge,” said Bobby Clue, executive director of the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, of Paul’s decision to visit this community. “We are honored that Sen. Paul feels Pulaski County is worthy of a stop with all the things he has going on with the national agenda. We don’t take this lightly. This is a big deal.”
Paul has positioned himself in the eyes of numerous political observers as a possible Republican candidate for the White House in 2016, and has made national headlines for many of his actions and policies since first being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. The son of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, and a self-described “constitutional conservative,” with connections to the Tea Party and Libertarian sections of the political spectrum, Paul is a graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine and an ophthalmologist in western Kentucky for 17 years, and founded the organization Kentucky Taxpayers United to combat the spread of excessive taxation.
Paul made a splash in Washington earlier this month when he held the Senate floor for almost 13 hours in a filibuster to block a vote on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director and draw attention to questions about the U.S. President’s ability to use lethal drone vehicles. He also discussed ideas about immigration reform this month, including that illegal immigrants should get a chance to become U.S. taxpayers and citizens and calling on “conservative Republicans ... (to) become part of the solution.”
Paul currently serves on the following committees: Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Homeland Security and Government Affairs; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
Paul has also kept the issues facing Kentucky specifically high on his agenda. On Wednesday, Paul commended the Kentucky General Assembly for passing a bill to regulate industrial hemp, a potential financial boon in this state.
Despite Paul’s national profile, it’s this close-to-home focus that Clue said would be key to today’s discussion.
“(The participants) are going to want to talk about things relevant to their respective fields, not just how (Paul’s views) affect national policy but how they affect things locally here in Lake Cumberland,” said Clue. “Sometimes we get lost in seeing him as this larger-than-life person, but he is our Kentucky Junior Senator.”
Clue said that a “collection of business leaders, a cross-section of different people in the community, from education to health care and everything in between” will be participating in the roundtable. Some names expected to be there include County Attorney Martin Hatfield, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital CEO Mark Brenzel, Somerset Community College President Dr. Jo Marshall, Adanta Group president Jamie Burton, and many more.
“The Chamber helps facilitate information for this community, especially with our elected officials,” said Clue. “We’re very fortunate to have good partners. Pulaski County government is the sponsor of the event, and Hendrickson Commercial Trailer will be the site location. They were very kind to set it up for us.”
The event — held in Hendrickson building no. 2 — will be free and open to the public, although seating is limited, likely to the first 220 individuals through the door. Seats are on a first-come, first-serve basis, said Clue.
Earlier in the day at 10:30 a.m., Paul will be touring the Lineman Training Center at Somerset Community College, as hosted by Lake Cumberland Area District Development, and at 1:45 p.m., he will join local Christian community leaders at Somerset Christian School for another roundtable event.