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Ron Leach

Bill speaks with Ron Leach, the Democratic candidate for Kentucky's 2nd Congressional District seat. His opponent is U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, Republican.
Season 9 Episode 35 Length 28:02 Premiere: 09/23/14

Leach: Congress Needs to Start Governing Again

In the spring of 2011, as politicians in Washington debated another possible government shutdown, Ron Leach was serving as a physician’s assistant with a U.S. Army combat battalion in Afghanistan. With a shutdown looming, Leach says he saw soldiers, who should’ve been focused on their combat patrols, wondering whether they would be paid.

That’s when Leach decided to run for Congress.

The Brandenburg Democrat is challenging incumbent Republican Brett Guthrie for Kentucky’s 2nd Congressional District seat. Leach appeared on this weekend’s One to One to discuss his candidacy and several key issues in the race.

Leach retired from the military in 2012 after serving nearly 30 years in the Army and National Guard. He worked as an infantry soldier and paratrooper, and did Special Forces duty before receiving training as a medical officer and physician’s assistant. His last 10 years in the Army included two combat tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

Leach says he was discouraged to be fighting to build democracies in those countries while watching a dysfunctional democracy at home, especially during the protracted debt-ceiling debate of 2011.

“There’s no question we need to get our long-term fiscal house in order in Washington,” Leach explains. “But you don’t do it by telling the world that you might be a dead-beat nation. You don’t do it by refusing to pay obligations that the very Congress that was throwing tantrums had committed us to.”

New Threats fom Islamic Militants
Given his time in the Middle East, Leach has strong opinions about the nation’s response to the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). He acknowledges those jihadists are a growing threat in the region, but doesn’t see them as an imminent danger to western nations.

Leach says American actions in the Middle East contributed to the rise of ISIS. He argues the U.S. invasion of Iraq and subsequent efforts to eliminate the Baath Party there left a power vacuum that facilitated the rise of Islamic extremists in Iraq. Then in Syria, Leach says western nations failed to support that nation’s secular democratic movement, which, if successful, could’ve have limited the development of ISIS there.

Given the threat posed by the militants, Leach says he prefers an American strategy of targeted air strikes to disable and demoralize ISIS fighters. But he is against sending large numbers of American combat troops back into the region. “We have, without a doubt, the most professional, the most capable military the world has ever seen,” Leach says. “But that does not make it the answer for every situation.”

Instead, Leach says native Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces should finish the job of dismantling ISIS.

Domestic Issues
During his One to One interview, Leach also explained his positions on a number of domestic policy issues:

  • As a veteran, Leach is deeply concerned about the state of care offered by Veterans Administration hospitals. He says Congress should’ve have seen that crisis coming with the increased demand for services caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and changes to disability eligibility for Vietnam veterans. He criticizes Sen. Mitch McConnell for opposing efforts to increase funding for VA medical care. “You put $2 trillion on our children’s credit card for unfunded wars,” Leach says, “but we can’t afford $24 or $28 billion to care of those who served? That’s immoral.”
  • Leach says the Affordable Care Act is not perfect and he is concerned about the burdens it places on small businesses, but he argues the law creates a far better health care system than Americans had before. He praises Gov. Steve Beshear for creating the state health exchange Kynect, saying the governor did what was right, not what was politically expedient.
  • Like other Democrats, Leach supports an increase to the minimum wage. He says raising the federal minimum to $10.10 per hour over three years is “pragmatic and reasonable.” Instead of being a job-killer, as some conservatives have argued, Leach believes an increase would lift people out of poverty and stimulate the economy. He also proposes that future increases should be tied to inflation.

A Desire to Change the Culture in Washington
As a political newcomer who taught high school agriculture and science earlier in his life, Leach says his goal is to represent the people of the 21 western and central Kentucky counties that comprise the 2nd district.

Leach contends Washington lawmakers are too focused on donors (or sponsors, as he calls them) that fund their reelection campaigns, and he says elections have become auctions. He also bemoans the gridlock and ideological divides that have defined the federal government in recent decades.

“We need to start governing and acting like adults in Congress,” Leach says.

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Connections host Renee Shaw smiling in a gray suit along with the show logo and a "Check Schedule" button.Connections host Renee Shaw smiling in a gray suit along with the show logo and a "Check Schedule" button.

Season 9 Episodes

30th Celebration of Leadership Kentucky

S9 E47 Length 28:11 Premiere Date 12/14/14

Peter Van Buren and Kris Kimel

S9 E44 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 11/27/14

Roger McNeil and Ben Malphrus

S9 E43 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 11/18/14

John Thelin

S9 E42 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 11/11/14

Congressman John Yarmuth

S9 E36 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 10/01/14

Ron Leach

S9 E35 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 09/23/14

Jack Conway

S9 E34 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 09/13/14

Hal Heiner

S9 E33 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 09/06/14

Mike Duncan

S9 E31 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 08/23/14

Steve Beshear and Hal Rogers

S9 E30 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 08/16/14

Sen. Rand Paul

S9 E29 Length 27:01 Premiere Date 08/09/14

Chuck Todd

S9 E28 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 08/02/14

Naomi Judd

S9 E27 Length 28:23 Premiere Date 07/26/14

Jason Howard

S9 E26 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 07/19/14

Roy Hoffman

S9 E25 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 07/12/14

Karen Mann

S9 E24 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 07/05/14

Dr. Shawn C. Jones

S9 E23 Length 28:00 Premiere Date 06/27/14

Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen

S9 E22 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 06/21/14

Stephen Chung

S9 E21 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 06/14/14

Jean Cochran

S9 E20 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 06/07/14

Bob Marino

S9 E19 Length 26:17 Premiere Date 05/31/14

Diane Ravitch

S9 E18 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 05/24/14

Al Cross - 2014 election primary

S9 E17 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 05/17/14

Owsley Brown III

S9 E16 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 05/10/14

Eugenia Toma

S9 E15 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 05/03/14

Dr. Wayne Andrews

S9 E14 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 04/26/14

Dr. Otto Kaak

S9 E13 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 04/19/14

Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer

S9 E12 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 04/12/14

John Williams

S9 E11 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 04/05/14

Jimmy Rose

S9 E10 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 03/29/14

Dan Gediman

S9 E9 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 03/22/14

James Hurley

S9 E8 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/23/14

Dreama Gentry

S9 E7 Length 28:00 Premiere Date 02/16/14

Geoffrey Mearns, president of Northern Kentucky University

S9 E6 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/09/14

Terry Brooks, Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

S9 E5 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/02/14

Ben Chandler, Former Congressman

S9 E4 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/26/14

Dr. Christine Riordan

S9 E3 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 01/19/14

Governor Steve Beshear, January 5, 2014

S9 E1 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/05/14

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