GOP Congressmember James Comer—Another “Team Red” Lightweight March 29, 2023
The GOP, in general, and the House GOP majority, in particular, will never win any awards for being bright legislators. If anything, these lawmakers, for years, have been in a “race-to-the-bottom” as to who can win the political “dunce cap” crown. And it is just not House backbenchers on “Team Red” who are contenders for this dubious “honor.” Republican James Comer, chair of the House Oversight Committee, the outfit that takes on investigations into political issues and related matters, is aiming to grab the “dunce” award away from all his fierce competitors. Fourth-term Kentucky Rep. James Comer (50), currently represents the Blue Grass State’s 1st Congressional District (CD). His claim to the “dunce” infamy? Comer recently criticized NY City District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Bragg, remember, is the fellow who may soon be indicting Demagogue Donald for his hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels that occurred during his 2016 presidential campaign. Comer declared on CNN’s “State of the Union” show that DA Bragg “has no business investigating Trump for what he says is a federal crime.” Comer added, “if anything, the investigation should be done by the Department of Justice of the federal level (usatoday.com, Tran, K, 3/26/23).” Dumb Comment #1—While it is still unknown what Trump could be charged with in the Manhattan probe, multiple news reports say that this crime would likely be linked to a misdemeanor charge for falsifying business records, a state crime (usatoday.com). Rep. Comer further stated that the investigation “is about politics,” because the possible indictment of a former president is “politicized and the Department of Justice should handle that probe.” Dumb Comment #2—Apparently, Comer has forgotten or doesn’t remember that in the U.S. no one, not even a former president is above the law. The Mueller special prosecution report stated that a sitting president can’t be indicted. That rule does not apply to former presidents. Additionally, if the Department of Justice (DOJ) was the institution handling this investigation of Donald, Comer would certainly have screamed that Attorney General Merrick Garland, appointed by Dem. President Joe Biden, had made this investigation political to the tenth power. Comer also argued in a letter to NY DA Bragg that the investigation is a “politically motivated prosecutorial decision.” Dumb Comment #3—This is a hypocritically rich comment for Comer to make. Comer is investigating Democrat Joe Biden and his family and has closed down the House investigations of GOPer Trump (Knutson, J., 1/15/23, axios.com). Comer additionally stated in this letter that he wants DA Bragg to testify to Congress about his ongoing investigation of Trump over concerns that this investigation is “a political prosecution.” Dumbest Comment of All #4—Bragg’s office correctly wrote Comer that the request for such testimony before Congress “is an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution and chair Comer has no legitimate basis for congressional inquiry (usatoday.com, Tran, 3/26/23).” Just who is this Cong. Comer?
Congressmember Comer comes from a politically ultra-dripping “Red” GOP district. The KY 1st has a Cook PVI (Partisan Voting Index) of R+26. The Blue Grass 1st includes land west of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers that was purchased from the Chickasaw Indians by Gen. Andrew Jackson and Gov. Isaac Shelby in 1818, known as the Jackson Purchase. The 1st contains declining coalfields as well as the Pennyrile area of low hills and small farms. The KY 1st has a distinctive Southern atmosphere in the crops that are grown here, the low wages paid to workers, and the fact that Nashville, TN, not Louisville, KY has the most influence. When you cross the border from rural Illinois into the KY 1st , you immediately understand that you have entered Dixie. The four counties in the 1st that border the Mississippi River look to St. Louis, MO and New Orleans, LA for guidance (See Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). Paducah is the only real urban area. It is located on the Ohio River and has established an arts district. Fort Campbell, home to the 101st Airborne Division lies in the 1st. Industrialized hemp, now legalized by Congress, and used as a fuel and fiber, has gained a foothold around Paducah. Walmart has even entered the hemp market (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac).
During the Civil War, the 1st, settled by Southern farmers, was a strong Confederate area in non-seceding border state KY. The Jackson Purchase area and the Pennyrile part of the 1st were originally Democratic. Until 1994, the 1st had never elected a GOP Congressmember. However, like other Dixiecrat areas, this district has become faithfully “Red.” It voted for Donald against Hillary 72%-24% and in 2020 went for Trump 73%-26% over Biden (Cohen & Cook 2022). The KY 1st has joined the KY 5th as that state’s two strongest GOP districts. They are the two most rural areas in the state and are among the lowest 10% of districts nationwide in median income (Cohen & Cook 2022).
Carthage, TN native James Comer grew up in rural Monroe County, in the southeastern part of the 1st CD. He always wanted to become a farmer. After graduating in 1993 from Western Kentucky University with an agriculture degree, Comer borrowed $120,000 from a community bank to purchase his first farm. This farm, James Comer, Jr. Farms, became one of the largest farming operations in south central KY. He additionally co-owned Comer Land and Cattle Company. He had other interests in the insurance and restaurant businesses and served as a director of the South Central Bank for 12 years (Cohen & Cook 2022, paducahsun.com). From 1999-2000, Comer served as president of Monroe County’s Chamber of Commerce (Barton, R., wkyufm.com, 5/13/15).
Comer won his first election to the KY House of Representatives at age 28. He served in that then Democratic-controlled body for 11 years (2001-2012). In 2011, Comer won election to a four-year term as KY Commissioner of Agriculture, the only GOPer to win statewide office at that time. In that post, Comer called for legalizing the production of hemp and was instrumental in getting the KY hemp industry “up and running (Cohen & Cook 2022, Markgraf, M., 2/10/17).” In 2015, Comer ran for Gov. of KY, but lost to the more outspoken conservative Matt Bevin (R-KY) by just 83 votes (Cohen & Cook 2022). When 11-term GOP 1st CD House incumbent Ed Whitfield announced his retirement, Comer ran for his House seat in 2016. He outraised his GOP primary opponent and was backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association. Comer handily won his primary, 61%-23% and crushed his Democratic opponent in this now “Red” district, 73%-27% (Cohen & Cook, wkms.org, Null, J., 4/27/16). Comer has handily won re-election since (KY 1st Congressional District Elections, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022, CQ 118th Congress Early Guide).
In the House, Cong. Comer was a strong Trump supporter and is a House ally of his fellow Kentuckian, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Cohen & Cook 2022). He has had a quick rise to chair of the House Oversight & Reform Committee. When Mark Meadows, who held the top spot on House Oversight was tapped to become Donald’s chief-of-staff, Comer defeated his rivals to win that post. Since the GOP won the 2022 midterm elections, Comer now sits in Oversight’s chair where he indicated he plans to go after Biden and his fellow Democrats (See Cohen & Cook 2022). Comer even stated that he would investigate Biden, because Biden “hasn’t been investigated.” He added, “there have been so many investigations of President Trump. I don’t feel we need to spend a whole lot of time investigating President Trump (axios.com, Knutson, J., 1/15/23).” Comer defended Donald on the eve of and after the 2020 presidential election. He joined Demagogue Donald in accusing Democrats of trying to “steal the presidential election” by their expanded use of voting by mail (Cohen & Cook 2022). Comer voted with Donald 94.1% of the time, right in line with most Southern Republicans (See fivethirtyeight.com). He has a 75% conservative v. a 25% economic record and a social 74% v. 26% score (Cohen & Cook 2022). Comer supported the regressive top 1% 2017 Trump tax cut bill and proudly bragged about it (ocmonitor.com, 12/19/17). Cong. Comer wants to repeal Obamacare and opposes paid parental leave for federal workers (votesmart.org, washingtonpost.com, 2021). He is for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and opposes amnesty for immigrants (votesmart.org). Comer is anti-abortion and also opposes same-sex marriage (votesmart.org). You get the idea.
In this “Blood Red” KY 1st CD, Cong. Comer can keep getting re-elected easily. He may, however, want to return to KY state politics (See Cohen & Cook, 2022). Should he leave the House, no doubt, a similar Trump-loving GOPer would replace him. However, if Democrats come out in droves in Campaign 2024, neither Cong. Comer nor another GOP clone will hold the House Oversight gavel and harass Biden and his fellow Democrats. The GOP has just a five-member House majority that can easily be reversed by strong turnout for “Team Blue.” Turnout, again, is everything.