FAQ for Ron Leach for US Senate Campaign

Coal Jobs:  Bottom line is, our Kentucky coal region families, for generations, have sacrificed their health their lives and environment to fuel the great American economy. I will not stand by and watch them be collateral damage and abandoned by a shifting and changing economy. As your US Senator I will fight to ensure that these regions and our fellow Kentuckians are invested in, valued, and paid due respect for the sacrifices they have made over generations for this country.

The most comprehensive plan I have seen to address the realities and offer real solutions and a better future for our coal communities has been Secretary Clinton’s plan -https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/factsheets/2015/11/12/clinton-plan-to-revitalize-coal-communities/  I endorse and will fight to implement this or similar plans that meet our obligations to our coal communities. I will represent and fight for you.

The first step in building a better future for Kentucky coal communities is to be honest and truthful as leaders - to state the hard difficult realities so we can move forward and make informed decisions.

The reality is that Coal jobs have steadily fallen over the past three decades  - under Republicans and Democrat administrations. While it is convenient to believe in "the war on coal" and create a scapegoat - whether that is the current president, or an entire political party, or government as a whole, the fact is that coal jobs have been on a steady decline since the 1980's. Initially the decline in coal jobs was decoupled from production – i.e., coal production remained fairly steady even with a decline in coal jobs. The first couple decades of coal job losses were secondary to changing methods, technology, and machinery that simply requires fewer workers to extract the same amount of coal. The current continuation of the decline in coal jobs is secondary to declining coal markets in the US, competition from elsewhere, and the real challenges to coal presented by the natural gas production revolution (which presents other significant concerns reference ground water and CH4 emmisions contributing to climate change). Whether you vote Republican, Democrat, Independent, other, or don't bother voting at all, the realities are that coal and coal jobs will have a diminishing place in Kentucky's future. I am for jobs with a real future, and that simply does not include coal jobs to the extent that it once did. As far as the EPA, please note that the last renewal and revision of the Clean Air act was under the 1st Bush Presidency - about a quarter century ago. While the current administration has proposed and is attempting to implement new rules reference CO2, the fact is THAT NOT A SINGLE NEW regulation has been implemented under the current administration. The FACTS ARE that the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky has been in decline for about as long as Mitch McConnell has been getting elected by screaming "war on coal" and promising to bring back all the coal jobs. FACT- it costs about twice as much to extract the available remaining coal seams from Eastern Kentucky as it does to extract from elsewhere, and over all Kentucky coal is less competitive and that is why we are actually importing coal to fire our own coal power plants. In other words, we are not cost competitive even within a dwindling coal market as it exist. This is a result of pure market forces, not any politician of any party affiliation. If you want to be part of the solution and ensure a better future for our coal communities, you have to begin by accepting reality and stepping away the ideological propaganda. 

LGBT issues and positions

The Supreme Court ruling reference same sex marriage was the constitutionally sound and the correct interpretation of the equal protections guaranteed in the constitution. I respect individual sincere and deeply held religious objections. But the bottom line is we are a Representative Constitutional Democracy, not a Theocracy.

I have served in the US Army with folks I assumed to be gay and those openly gay following the drop of the “don't ask don't tell" policy. It was never an issue. I only care about competence and performance, not someone’s sexual orientation or what they do in their personal lives. I was part of an audience at the pentagon years ago as the process of repealing “don’t ask don't tell” was moving forward. A General placed in charge of coming up with recommendations was leading the town hall style meeting. He relayed to those of us gathered that he had reached out to all of our allies - Great Britain, France, Germany, Israel and others - and asked them how they had "handled this issue". The response from each and every military ally consulted was "it has never been an issue for us". I remember years ago when being gay - if disclosed or found out- would disqualify someone for a security clearance. The thought process was that if you were gay that that could be used to blackmail and coerce you and therefore you would be deemed a security risk. And...This was true, but only because we forced people to live a lie and forced them to hide who they were. Magically the fact that someone may be gay lesbian or in some other way "different" is no longer a security risk simply because we no longer force them to hide who they are. Who they were was not the issue. How they were treated is what presented a potential security risk.

As your US Senator I will represent ALL Kentuckians, and work to see that the great promise of America is equally available to each and every one of us regardless of gender, color, creed, or orientation.

Climate change: The science and current very real manifestations of climate change are undeniable. For many millenniums the CO2 content in our earth’s atmosphere has ranged between 100 and 200 ppm. Current levels – as of FEB 2015 per NOAA – are 400.26 ppm, or in other words double the historic normal high. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and does promote solar heat retention and a general warming of the global ambient temperature. The 10 warmest years over the course of the past 134 years have occurred since the year 2000. Other than 1998, 2015 was the warmest global ambient temperature on record. Coastal regions – to include here in the United States – are already spending billions of dollars to mitigate and fend off the very real and growing effects of climate change. While the global climate has gone through cycles of heating and cooling in the past, this period of warming has been by far the most rapid rise in geologic history and is beyond any preponderance of the doubt directly related to human activity – primarily increased CO2 emissions, along with deforestation, CH4 (methane) emissions, urban heat islands and other direct human activities. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and others who deny these realities know better, and are playing voters for stooges, and in the long run are making Kentucky and America less competitive, are costing us millions of post carbon economy jobs and costing us what should be an America’s leadership position in the inevitable post carbon world. 

Women's Issues:  I have three daughters, one of which is a Reserve Army Combat Medic – all 100lbs and 5ft and a ¼ inch of her. My wife is an Active Duty Army Lieutenant Colonel - "Army Strong". I respect women as equals, and will fight for equal pay for equal work, and will accept no limits placed on my daughters or wife because of gender.

If your question on women’s issue is reference reproductive rights, I often question those who declare themselves “pro-life”. Just how pro-life are they? Do they support giving every child the best start and best chance of survival by ensuring access to prenatal care and access to healthcare once they are born? Does their “pro-life” position seek to ensure that each and every child has access to a quality education and does not live in poverty (as 1/3 of American children does – nearly the highest poverty rate in the developed world). Does their “pro-life” position seek to ensure that a child has a greater chance to live free of violence, community decay, environmental degradation, and desperation. In other words, do they truely care if that child has the greatest potential to grow up healthy, educated, and able to fulfill their full potential; or are they really only pro-fetus. We need to forcefully and relentlessly ask, “Does their definition of pro-life extend beyond the womb?” We must relentlessly expose their hypocrisy. A true pro-life stand seeks to employ those thing that actually reduce abortions – education, economic opportunity, healthcare, access to contraception, and hope. A true pro-life ethos values every life through its full and natural course and seeks to see every human life reach its full potential, and respects a women's life and her right to control her life.

Bernie or Hillary?: My preference and my contributions have been for Senator Sanders.  I believe he better represents the significant systemic chance we desperately need.

I respect Secretary Clinton and believe she is superbly qualified – as former First Lady of Arkansas and of the United States, as a former Senator, and as a former Secretary of State. My reservations are that I feel she is too closely tied to the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and will be less likely to effect the real systemic change that is required if we are to rebuild a Kentucky and America that works for all of us again. I feel she is too ready to commit US Forces without a thorough and deliberate consideration of potential blowback and ramifications - creating further instability and fostering an environment conducive to ISIS or other extremist.

That said, I recognize how difficult the path is for Senator Sanders to secure the nomination. The system is simply stacked against the non-establishment candidate – ( and The DSCC's apparent endorsement of our most significant challenger - a multi millionaire who refuses to engage in any candidate forums or debates, will not release a platform or any ideas, and has been in hiding since he filed as a candidate - without even the courtesy of a meeting or a returned call to either me or our campaign (same treatment for Sellus Wilder's campaign from the DSCC) is an example of this rigged process.)

That said, if Secretary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for US President, I will support her and work with her as your US Senator.  The sakes are too high to sit out the election and effectively elect Senator Cruz or Donald Trump. I urge all of Senator Sander’s supporters to likewise help fight the battle that follows the primary process no matter who our nominee.  I will need you. Senator Sanders will need you either as President or as he continues to serve in the US Senate. Our nation and our democracy need you to keep fighting.

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