Kentucky Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence will seek his 12th term in Frankfort as a Republican.
Gooch, who served the 12th Legislative District as a Democrat for many years, informed House leaders of his decision Monday morning.
The decision, he said, was personal and followed weeks of deliberation, prayer and conversations with close personal friends and family.
In a Monday afternoon statement to the press, Gooch said he could not support any of the Democrats in the 2016 White House race. Democrats, he said, had been labeled the “party of Barack Obama,” yet he could no longer affiliate himself with a party that supported the president’s policies.
Gooch has served in the House since 1995 and chairs the Natural Resources and Environment Committee. He called Obama’s policy platform “radical” and criticized the president for environmental policies that stripped Kentucky of power producing and coal mining jobs. Gooch said Obama’s final year in office is likely to feature what he called a “war on coal,” and an assault on the Second Amendment.
He acknowledged a difference between conservative-leaning Democrats in Kentucky and the national party, and he said those who choose to remain Democrats must distinguish themselves from the national rhetoric — something he said he was no longer able to do.
The 12th District includes McLean and Webster counties, as well as parts of Daviess and Hopkins counties.