Berry Craig: The ‘fresh face’ who wants to retire Ed Whitfield

DSC_04600008Wesley Bolin, a 25-year-old college student from Murray, knows it usually takes a ton of money, name recognition and some political experience to win a seat in Congress.

The candidate confesses he lacks all three.

Plus, Bolin is running as an unabashed liberal in the First Congressional District, where more than a few voters cast ballots based on what some wags call the “Four Gs – God, guns, gays and government.”

“People say we need a fresh face in Washington,” said Bolin, a Democrat who wants to unseat 10-term incumbent Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield in November. “Well, nobody’s face is fresher than mine.”

Bolin’s mug is also bearded.  He considered shaving his whiskers for the campaign but decided against it “because it is better to look 25 than twelve. My beard isn’t presidential like Lincoln’s, but I think it looks congressional.”

Bolin is a senior history major at hometown Murray State University. His dad, Dr. Duane Bolin, is a history professor, author and well-known Kentucky historian.

Both Bolins are partial to hand-tied bow ties. Neither Bolin minds being compared to the late Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988.

The Bolins, Wesley, his dad, mom Evelyn, and sister, Cammie Jo, are devout Southern Baptists and active in the Murray Baptist Church.

The candidate believes in strict separation of church and state and promises not to pander on the social issues. “I believe in equality for all Kentuckians,” he declared.
Bolin leans decidedly leftward on economic issues. He is for upping the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits to the approximately 1.4 million jobless Americans whose eligibility ended Dec. 28. Bolin is also pro-Affordable Care Act.

Bolin, like his dad, is a fan of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The candidate favors New Deal-style public works programs.

He is staunchly pro-labor, declaring “I learned a lot about unions listening to Pete Seeger songs.”

Bolin opposes right to work laws. He supports prevailing wage laws and the Employee Free Choice Act. He believes public employees should have the right to unionize.

He opposes the North American Free Trade Agreement and similar trade deals including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, “NAFTA on steroids” to its opponents.

He said he isn’t fazed by the fact that the district delivered more than        66 percent of its vote to Republican Mitt Romney over President Obama in 2012. Nor is he daunted because Whitfield piled up nearly 70 percent of district ballots against Charles Hatchett, another little known and underfunded Democrat, and a conservative, to boot . Hatchett has also filed in the Democratic primary.

Bolin knows his path to Washington is a steep climb. “I’ve only been to Washington twice,” he confessed, “once on a band trip.”

He says a big reason he decided to run for congress “is because I’m tired of having to choose between the lesser of two ‘who cares’ on election day.”

Bolin plans to shake a lot of hands across the district, which meanders from the Mississippi River through western Kentucky and rolls eastward to Casey County in south central Kentucky. “But I’m not kissing any babies until after flu season.”

He added, “In 20 years, I’ve learned to read and write, tie my shoes, ride a bicycle and play two instruments – banjo poorly, and saxophone well . A lot has changed for the better in my life, but the district hasn’t changed for the better since Newt Gingrich helped elect Ed Whitfield in 1994.”

Bolin says he has no choice but to run a campaign on a shoestring.  Between classes, he works as a library assistant and makes $8.92 an hour. He will take a leave of absence to hit the campaign trail.

Bolin said he understands all too well that Whitfield enjoys an almost bottomless campaign war chest, much of it filled by well-heeled contributors, the candidate added. The Democrat doubts any corporate cash will come his way.

Bolin’s email address is wesley@bolinforkentucky.com.  Also, he can be reached at his official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bolinforkentucky and on twitter @wesleybolin.

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