The Louisville Tea Party held a town hall last night featuring Sen. Rand Paul, GOP statewide candidates, and independent gubernatorial candidate Gatewood Galbraith.
As David Williams was speaking, he off-offhandedly mentioned — while criticizing Kentucky’s tax structure — that he did not think Ark Encounter would ever be built. The project — featuring a “replica” of Noah’s Ark that depicts a 600-year old Noah herding dinosaurs onto it a few thousand years ago — is receiving a $43 million dollar tax break from the Beshear administration, which is a big cheerleader behind the project.
I asked Williams afterward about why he is skeptical of the project:
LEO Weekly: So you don’t think the Ark is going to be built?
Williams: No, I don’t think it will ever be built.
LEO: Why not?
Williams: I don’t think there’s an economic feasibility study that indicates it will ever be feasible. And it doesn’t matter how much tax credit you give anybody, in order to get tax credits, you have to have the income in order to create it. And there’s never been a feasibility study I’ve ever seen, I don’t think there’s ever been one done. I think the governor is just playing politics with this.
The original “feasibility study” was actually one by a business partner of Ken Ham, the head of Answers in Genesis and the force behind the for-profit project. Following this study, the Beshear administration commissioned a study that predicted more modest numbers for the park, yet still incredibly — or miraculously — high.
I asked Williams what he thought about the nature of the project.
LEO: What do you think about dinosaurs on the ark, or are you agnostic on that?
Williams: Well, I’m not agnostic.
LEO: Well not literally agnostic. The whole young earth, dinosaurs and humans…
Williams: (deadpan) I wasn’t there.
This is, of course, a variation of the ridiculous line that Ken Ham teaches children to use when adults tell them that the earth is billions of years old, not 6,000 years old — “Were you there?“
After the ensuing LOL’s died down, Williams elaborated.
“You know, here’s what I believe. I believe that I am a Christian and I come from a Judeo-Christian belief. And I believe that the Bible is a valid document. So if the good lord wants to calculate his years in different terms than our 365-day rotation of the sun … if I am forgiven at the time of my death and in good grace, he’ll reveal all that to me. But until then, I won’t ever be sure.”
I then asked Williams about the state of his campaign, which many are describing as in disarray — as polls show him more than 20 percent behind Beshear and his campaign manager recently resigned in order to pursue other “career opportunities.”
“I don’t know anyone who knows my campaign that says it’s in disarray. They’re hoping it’s in disarray, but we’re not in disarray. We had one person who went off for other opportunities, and we have a strong management team in place. And we’re fighting an organization that, as Mitch McConnell said down at Fancy Farm, likes his state employees like he likes his martinis — shaken down and not heard.”
Williams again said during his speech — when unfavorably comparing Kentucky’s system of taxation and employment to Tennessee — that Tennessee has 2 more congressmen than Kentucky, which is the second time we’ve heard him do so on the campaign trail (in addition to one time he said they have the same number, to point out how many more people Tennessee employs). Tennessee actually has nine congressman, to Kentucky’s six.
When I pointed this out to Williams, he replied: “Well that’s even worse than I say.”
Williams’ argument is that Kentucky is losing population to Tennessee because of their tax structure — which features a high sales tax but no regular income tax. However, Tennessee’s unemployment rates currently sits at 9.8 percent, just above Kentucky’s also-bad 9.6 percent.
Much more on the rest of the tea party town hall meeting to come…