Daniel Kemph is trying to shake up the political class.
The candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the race to unseat U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, says politicians on both sides of the aisle aren’t really listening to the people, which is what prompted him to get involved. Kemph is one of six Democrats running in the May 22 primary.
“They give such flippant and rote answers that I’m really disappointed,” said Kemph, accusing his opponents of trotting out “DNC-approved” one-liners during debates.
The first-time candidate for political office told The State Journal he has spent his career working as an information technology consultant for banks — most recently for First Tennessee Bank — before taking time off to campaign. That career, in which many of his colleagues worked remotely from India and Europe, has helped shape his view on the economy.
“All these manufacturing jobs, all these coal jobs, they’re never coming back, but there’s no reason the folks out in Appalachia can’t do this kind of work,” said Kemph, adding that, with some retraining, American workers could just as easily run test scripts and diagram processes from remote locations.
A native of Orange County, California, Kemph attended college at Cal State Fullerton but never finished, he said. Instead, the 52-year-old says he moved from city to city for consulting work before settling in Lexington six years ago.
On the future of health care in the U.S., Kemph says he supports the eventual creation of a single-payer system, but in the meantime, Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Affairs should combine and participate in the existing market for health insurance.
Kemph is also a proponent of “voter access.” He says polls should be opened on the weekend before election day and that all voters should be allowed to mail in their ballots. He’s critical of efforts to require voters to present identification at the polls.
“Not everybody drives,” said Kemph, describing the possession of a driver’s license as a “line between haves and have-nots.”
Kemph said that because of work and travel requirements, he is not a member any local church or civic organizations but has been a regular attendee at political gatherings — including in Franklin County — in preparation for the race.
Also running for Barr’s seat are Democrats Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, Theodore Green, Amy McGrath, state Sen. Reggie Thomas and Geoff Young as well as Republican primary challenger Chuck Eddy.
The primaries are May 22. The winners of the primaries will face off in the general election Nov. 6.