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Counter Points is written by WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson. In it, he shares insights on political news on the local, state and national level that impacts the 2020 election. Counter Points is delivered once a week on Wednesdays and will cease publication soon after the November election is decided.

Todd McMurtry Clings To Trump In Primary Challenge Of NKY Rep. Thomas Massie

thomas massie todd mcmurtry
J. Scott Applewhite, Adam Beam
Republican Rep. Thomas Massie (left) and his Republican challenger Todd McMurtry.

Todd McMurtry, the Northern Kentucky lawyer famous for being part of the legal team representing a Covington Catholic High School student in suits against CNN and The Washington Post, hopes to unseat Rep. Thomas Massie in the state's June 23 Republican primary. McMurtry has attacked Massie over his apparent lack of loyalty to the president and the Republican Party.

This comes after President Trump publicly attacked Massie on Twitter, saying "...WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!

Massie voted to force a recorded vote on the CARES Act, the federal stimulus bill which was passed in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Massie's vote would have made Congress return to Washington D.C. amidst the pandemic to vote in-person, but his motion failed.

WVXU reached out to Massie multiple times via phone and email for comment for this story but did not receive a response. Massie will, however, appear on Tuesday's Cincinnati Edition in a pre-recorded conversation with host Michael Monks.

McMurtry has focused on Massie's record of voting against key bills that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, defund Planned Parenthood, provide funding for a border wall, and to support U.S. interests in Israel.

"There's a lot of support in the district for foreign policy interests in Israel and Congressman Massie is the most anti-Israel Republican in Washington. He is right up there with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and 'The Squad,' " McMurtry said, referring to the nickname of a group of four Democratic women of color elected to the House in 2018.

Outside of his support for the president, McMurtry's policy focus is on infrastructure and transportation in Northern Kentucky. Massie currently serves on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.

"When (Massie) ran he said, 'You need to put an engineer in Congress to get the Brent Spence Bridge done.' He's on the infrastructure committee but he has never gotten a piece of legislation passed; he's never even gotten a piece of legislation out of the committee. He has proven to be completely ineffective on transportation and infrastructure issues," McMurtry said.

McMurtry also decried Massie's tendency to vote 'no' on pieces of legislation. He votes 'no' so often that Politico dubbed him "Mr. No" in 2014.

"Simply voting 'no' on everything accomplishes nothing. We need a problem solver," McMurtry said.

He also points voters to his campaign's website listing Massie's actions in the eight years he's served in Congress, called MassieMistakes.com.

While McMurtry is putting up a tough rhetorical fight, Massie is clearly winning the fundraising race. According to FEC filings, Massie has raised over $800,000 compared to McMurtry's $185,000. McMurtry had some difficulty fundraising after a tweet he made in 2019 surfaced using "#racist." Numerous conservative donors, including the political committee associated with Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, requested refunds on their donations to his campaign.

"I am in Austin this weekend. Glad to be in this group. #redneck #racist #f---wit Just had the best BBQ of my life," McMurtry tweeted. It has since been deleted.

In response, McMurtry went on the offensive, claiming that the tweet was taken out of context and that Massie has racial bias problems of his own.

"Congressman Massie came to the defense of now-defeated Congressman Steve King who was widely criticized by his colleagues and stripped of his committee assignments because of his racist comments. Yet, his biggest supporter in Congress was Congressman Massie," McMurtry said. "I have personally seen photographs of Congressman Massie flying the Confederate flag over his Kentucky home, so him attacking me as a racist is pretty ironic."

Two images on Massie’s blog do indeed appear to show the flag on his home: one posted in July 2006 and the other in August 2006.

massie confederate flag home
Credit Massiehouse.blogspot.com
A Confederate battle flag can be seen in the bottom left of this picture of the home of Thomas Massie while it was under construction in August 2006. The flag could first be seen in a post on July 25, 2006, and is last seen in a post on August 13, 2006.

The blog documents Massie's experiences building his home. He also used the blog to endorse the presidential and senate campaigns of Ron and Rand Paul, before ending the blog when he began his congressional campaign in 2011.

WVXU again reached out to Massie to give him the opportunity to respond to these photos but as of Monday at 5 p.m. did not receive a response.

Massie and McMurtry will face each other at the ballot box on June 23. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has encouraged voters to vote using mail-in ballots, which can be requested at GoVoteKY.com by June 15.