I voted for Samara Heavrin for 18th District State Representative. It was the first time I ever voted for a Republican, and I have been voting since 1972. The reasons why I voted for Heavrin are varied, and I have been busily sorting them out.

There wasn’t a Democrat running against her, and Heavrin was the only candidate whose name I recognized. Samara went to high school with our kids. Our son Logan recalls that “she was always really nice and friendly in school and seemed pretty smart; she was in most all of the AP classes.” I tend to be supportive, and even nurturing, toward our kids’ classmates, friends, and peers—especially the “nice” and “smart” ones.

Samara often has a spot on this editorial page, and somehow that makes me feel connected. Perhaps that is not much of a connection, but a list of featured and frequent contributors to this page would be a very short one. (Listed alphabetically, Heavrin would appear just above Heinz.)

Her columns indicate hard work, intelligence, attention to detail, and many fine qualities that suggest she is well suited to serve as our state representative. Not only did I vote for Samara, I urged my wife to vote for her, too, and she did.

It occurred to me a day or two later that it was the first time I ever voted for a Republican, and I felt surprisingly good about it—until I heard her campaign ad on the radio. I picked up on two things in the ad: She is endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and the Kentucky Right to Life Association (KRLA).

Immediately my heart sank; I felt something much like buyer’s remorse. Apparently, Heavrin was a just another lockstep, rubber stamp Republican. I had been foolish to vote for her because she went to school with my kids, and we sometimes share a page in this newspaper. Wracked by waves of regret and remorse, I did what I should have done in the first place: I researched Samara Heavrin.

According to her official website: “Samara caught the bug for public service early in her life, moving to Washington D.C. immediately upon her graduation from Western Kentucky University in 2014. She interned for U.S. Congressman Brett Guthrie before joining U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s staff as a Staff Assistant.”

My main complaint with Guthrie is that he is a rubber stamp Republican. I cannot find one vote that he has cast outside party lines.

I am definitely not a fan of Senator Rand Paul. With zero political experience, ophthalmologist Rand Paul rode into office on a wave of Tea Party Republicans who, together with the Freedom Caucus, have created the rancorous partisanship that has practically paralyzed Congress.

(But hey, this is Kentucky, and Heavrin is a Republican, so naturally she began her political career working for Kentucky Republicans like Guthrie and Paul.)

Her website states: “Samara was first elected to represent Grayson and Hardin County families in a 2019 special election. Her victory made her the youngest female ever to serve in the Kentucky General Assembly.” Apparently, Heavrin has plenty of drive and ambition, and I admire and respect that.

According to ivoterguide.com, Heavrin is endorsed by the NRA, KRLA, and RANDPAC, (Senator Rand Paul’s Leadership Political Action Committee).

I do not support the NRA. According to USA TODAY (8/7/2020), “The National Rifle Association faces its worst nightmare: accountability,” by Shannon Watts: “On Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association for breaking New York charities law....

“Even casual observers have watched it [the NRA] morph from a safety-focused nonprofit into a front group for gun manufacturers and a personal piggy bank for its leadership.

“Since 2018, NRA executive pay has skyrocketed...CEO Wayne LaPierre has reportedly used member dues to pay for millions of dollars’ worth of Italian suits and private jet trips. Meanwhile, in 2018 less than 10% of NRA funds were spent on the NRA’s supposed ‘core functions’ of gun safety, education, and training....”

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in September 2019 found that 60% of Americans say gun laws should be tougher, up from 57% in 2018, and 52% in 2017.

I do not support the KRLA and their “100% pro-life” position. Before abortions became legal, women risked their lives and their daughters’ lives with DIY coat-hanger abortions, back-alley quacks, and all sorts of dangerous concoctions, pills, and procedures.

I had a friend in high school named Laura. In the summer of 1971, 16-year-old Laura became pregnant. When she went to her boyfriend’s house to tell him, he was gone (or hiding), so Laura told his mother. The mother called Laura all kinds of bad names, and told her to leave and never return. The boyfriend refused to meet or talk with Laura.

In 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade established a constitutional right to abortion, the state of New York legalized the procedure. When Laura’s mother learned about the pregnancy, she put Laura on a plane, alone, to New York City to have an abortion.

When Laura returned she was sad and depressed. I took her to a nice restaurant in Louisville and comforted and reassured her. Laura was deeply touched by my kindness. We remained close friends until her untimely death of leukemia almost 30 years ago.

I have also known women who gave up their babies for adoption. A few years before I met her, my wife Carrie gave up a baby girl, Lisa, for adoption. Only this year, Lisa, now 32, discovered her birth mother (my wife) through a DNA ancestry test. That was a good and happy thing—

But carrying a child to term is not always an option, and giving up a baby for adoption isn’t easy, either. For many years, even after we had our two children, my wife was sad and depressed on and around Lisa’s birthday.

According to NBC news (9/29/2020), “Poll: Majority of adults don’t support overturning Roe v. Wade,” by Melissa Holzberg and Ben Kamisar: “A majority of American adults say they don’t support the Supreme Court’s completely overturning Roe v. Wade....

“66% of adults say they don’t believe the Supreme Court should completely overturn the decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion...29% of adults say they do want the court to completely overturn the ruling.”

Abortion and gun rights are hot button topics that work for Republicans here in Kentucky, especially in rural areas. But they move Kentucky backward, not forward.

Heavrin’s website states: “Samara has been the Grayson County Republican Party Youth Chair since 2017. She started Politics and Pancakes, a monthly breakfast that invites young Republicans to hear from elected officials....”

That sounds extremely partisan and exclusive—as in, Democrats are excluded. I favor a more inclusive style of government and leadership—one that will unite us, not divide us.

Despite our differences, I do not regret my vote for Heavrin. I do hope she will keep an open mind and reject political dogma, as my wife and I did with our votes for Samara.

I shall follow her political career with great interest.

Mark Heinz lives at Nolin Lake. Visit his website at amazon.com/author/markheinzbooks.

Mark Heinz lives at Nolin Lake. Visit his website at amazon.com/author/markheinzbooks.

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