LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District race pits a former railroad worker/coal miner turned attorney against an MIT graduate and computer touch technology pioneer.
Both Democrat Bill Adkins, a Grant County attorney, and Republican Thomas Massie, who served as Lewis County Judge Executive for 17 months, are new names and relatively unknown quantities to much of the district.
"I believe in education," Adkins told WHAS11, "those programs that have been there for decades including Medicare and Social Security."
Massie told WHAS11 that he is "equal parts liberty movement and the Tea Party."
"Basically, the Tea Party talks about constitutionally limited government and fiscal responsibility," Massie said. "And those are libertarian principles. Those are actually Republican principles."
"So I'm a Republican at heart."
The U.S. House seat was vacated by the retirement and subsequent resignation of U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis (R).
Recent redistricting appears to have solidified the Republican tendencies of the Fourth District with the additions of the eastern fifth of Jefferson County, the northern third of Spencer County and all of Shelby County.
Describing himself as a "moderate" Democrat, Adkins said Massie is the Tea Party candidate and "there is no Republican candidate."
"I agree with Republicans, on occasion," Adkins said. "They're going to disagree with me, a lot. But we can meet in the middle. And that is the exact problem we're facing. Look at what's happening in Congress, we have a single digit, at last check, a single digit approval rating for Congress for the very reasons that have happened the last two years, because of people like my opponent."
"I have a lot of the same views these people do. I am not unique. I am not far left," Adkins said. "And that's the problem we have today, if they see the Democrat listed, 'You're a communist.' And I don't believe that Republicans are fascists."
"I'm a moderate, I do believe," Adkins continued. "I believe in the Second Amendment. I'm a gun collector. I have more guns than most people would know."
Massie was asked how he reconciles fiscal conservatism with a congressman's role to secure funding for a district.
"Government does have a role and that is the role I want to advance," Massie said. "The role of government in my opinion is to do those things that the private sector cannot do."
"Government should not get into the things that the private sector can do. And the federal government should not be doing things that the state government can do," Massie continued. "For instance, the federal government should not be building YMCAs or deciding where your local library goes. But the federal government can help with national defense, with our borders, with our interstates, with our transportation infrastructure. Those are things that are important to Jefferson County as well as Northern Kentucky."
In a race that centers on the debate over the proper role of government, stark lines are drawn on the health care overhaul.
"I would have voted for the Affordable Care Act," Adkins said. "It did not go as far as I would have liked it to go. I believe that we are going to have to really, really hammer the costs of medical care down because it is unsustainable."
"I'm definitely against Obamacare," Massie said. "My opponent has Obamacare as his running mate. And I'm going to Congress to try to repeal it if we can."