Meredith, Rock fight for state house seat

Published 2:07 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Two southcentral Kentucky Republicans are competing in one of the most expensive state primary races this cycle.

Incumbent Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland, faces challenger Kelcey Rock. The winner will represent Edmonson County and part of Warren County in the state legislature from 2025 to 2027.

Meredith, who has served since 2011 and is the current chairman of the House Banking and Insurance Committee, has garnered $154,000 in campaign contributions.

Nearly a fifth of that support comes from political action committees, including several insurance PACs, the Kentucky Chamber PAC, the Kentucky Hospital Association, Kentucky Rural Broadband and the Housing Industry PAC.

On the other hand, Rock has amassed $13,000, with nearly $4,000 self-funded.

Rock lives on a Warren County farm with his family, and is president of Elite Business Solutions. He said he’s used to going into boardrooms to present loans, analyzing financial info and understands farmer and small business needs.

Why are they running?

Meredith said his done isn’t done.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the last several year, from lowering the income tax, getting construction started at the veterans nursing home in Bowling Green, getting vocational facilities being built here at Edmonson County and Bowling Green,” he said.

“…All those things are things that are good things that we’ve been able to do, but I think there’s more to do.”

Rock said he initially felt called to run to give back to the community, but now he also wants to do it for his kids. He’s not a fan of “lifetime career politicians,” who he feels are more corruptible, he said.

“Like a lot of people back in during COVID and just over the last few years, especially with some of the government restrictions and different issues happening, I felt locked down,” Rock said. “I felt like my rights were violated, like my voice wasn’t being heard in Frankfort.”

Key issues

During his current term, Meredith has addressed some of his key priorities. He’s championed the effort to secure funding for the Bowling Green veterans nursing home, as well as to legalize sports betting.

He pushed for the constitutional amendment voters will decide on in November adding explicit language to Kentucky’s constitution ensuring non-citizens can’t vote in elections, including for school board.

As chairman of the banking and insurance committee, Meredith has shepherded bills modernizing banking and trust laws, as well as laws against deceptive trade practices like people falsely advertising themselves as banks to mislead customers.

He said he wants to get the nursing home open and accepting patients, and hopefully expand the facility’s beds in the next few years. Meredith is also dedicated to continuing the incremental elimination of the income tax.

While he secured $6.5 million for Edmonson County’s water district in the biennial budget, he said he would help get more if needed. Finally, Meredith is focused on developing technical and career education, since not every student will attend college.

“There are good opportunities for students out there who are going into the workforce, whether they want to be plumbers or welders or electricians or all those kinds of things,” Meredith said. “We need to be teaching those skills in our schools so that those kids have an opportunity to be successful in their chosen lines of study and their chosen professions.”

Rock said he’s heard about a lot of issues as he’s knocked on doors. There are several infrastructure issues people have mentioned that he wants to address, but his primary focus is on social issues.

Rock listed a series of acronyms people are concerned about: CRT, DEI and SEL.

Critical Race Theory is a legal framework based on the idea that systemic racism exists in institutions like the government and justice system. It is not generally taught before high school.

Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives aim to eliminate barriers to equal participation of minority groups, usually in higher education. Social emotional learning teaches students to better understand their emotions to become more self-aware and develop empathy for and positive relationships with others.

“Those kinds of programs are being forced through our schools, and I found Edmonson County is especially sensitive to that issue,” Rock said. “Basically they feel like these programs are indoctrinating the kids.”

Rock is also concerned about the ability to use credit cards as a secondary form of voter ID. A bill to remove credit cards and student IDs from the acceptable list did not make it through the legislature this year.

He said he would love to reduce the income tax to zero, but wants voters to know that one of the ways the state is recouping lost income tax revenue is through additional taxes on service industries.

“I hear all these legislators saying, ‘We lowered your taxes,’ but not necessarily,” Rock said. “You lowered income tax by 1% but you’ve increased sales tax by adding those other sectors.”

Other issues

Rock said he fully supports school choice. Meredith said he is open-minded to some level of school choice, but doesn’t think it needs to be “wide open” with “tax dollars being sent across the board to private schools and those kinds of things.”

Rock opposes abortion exceptions for rape and incest, but does support the exception for the life of the mother in current law. Meredith said he’s waiting to see if the state supreme court overturns Kentucky’s trigger ban before making an official stance.

To further economic development, Rock said the region needs to attract businesses that will contribute to the local economy, whether through local jobs or tax dollars, not just recreation.

Meredith said infrastructure is the top issue, and the recently passed budget included funds for the Transpark’s water and sewer needs.


Both candidates have faced controversy.

In 2017, Meredith was one of four Republicans called to resign after it was revealed that they had signed a sexual harassment settlement involving a Frankfort staffer.

Meredith did not resign, and he is the only one of the four still serving as a state legislator.

Rock, for his part, will be in court on the day of the primary election for a hearing alleging he owes child support, according to Daily News coverage. Rock cited a change in employment as cause for the delay.