James Comer (politician)

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James Comer
Rep. James Comer.jpg
Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee
Assumed office
June 29, 2020
Preceded byJim Jordan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 1st district
Assumed office
November 8, 2016
Preceded byEd Whitfield
Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky
In office
January 2, 2012 – January 4, 2016
GovernorSteve Beshear
Matt Bevin
Preceded byRichie Farmer
Succeeded byRyan Quarles
Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives
from the 53rd district
In office
January 2001 – January 2, 2012
Preceded byBilly Polston
Succeeded byBart Rowland
Personal details
Born
James Richardson Comer Jr.

(1972-08-19) August 19, 1972 (age 50)
Carthage, Tennessee, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse
Tamara Jo Comer
(m. 2003)
Children3
EducationWestern Kentucky University (BS)
WebsiteHouse website

James Richardson Comer Jr.[1] /ˈkmər/ (born August 19, 1972) is an American politician from the Commonwealth of Kentucky who represents the state's 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. He served as Kentucky's agriculture commissioner from 2012 to 2016 and in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 2000 to 2012.

Comer unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor of Kentucky in the 2015 election. A year later, he won the Republican nomination for Kentucky's 1st congressional district to succeed Ed Whitfield. On November 8, 2016, Comer won both a full term to the seat for the next Congress and a special election that allowed him to serve the remainder of Whitfield's term.

Early life and education[edit]

Comer is a native of Tompkinsville, Kentucky.[2] He received a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Western Kentucky University in 1993.[3] In college, he served as president of the Kentucky Future Farmers of America. After college, he and his family started James Comer, Jr. Farms,[4] a 2,300 acres (950 ha) farm,[5] and he also co-owns Comer Land & Cattle Co.[6] He served as a director of the South Central Bank for 12 years.[3] Comer served as president of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce from 1999 to 2000.[3]

Kentucky politics[edit]

Kentucky House of Representatives[edit]

In 2000, Comer was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives at the age of 27.[7]

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture[edit]

Comer speaking to members of the Kentucky National Guard in 2013

In 2011, Comer ran for agriculture commissioner. The incumbent, Richie Farmer, was term-limited.[8] In the election, Comer was the only Republican to win election to a statewide executive office,[9] and worked with a team of Democratic officials and under a Democratic governor.[10] He had the highest percentage of the vote of any candidate on the ballot, and raised $606,766 to his opponent's $204,287.[11] He took office in January 2012. One of Comer's first actions in office was to team up with Democratic Auditor Adam Edelen to investigate his Republican predecessor's ethics while in office.[12]

That year Comer, became chair of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission,[13] and shortly after taking office, he called the legalization of industrialized hemp his top priority,[14][15] and was "instrumental in getting the hemp industry up and running",[16] including by founding several pilot programs[17] in an effort to restart Kentucky's industrial hemp industry. He also filed suit against the DEA, which resulted in the DEA allowing hemp seeds to be delivered to Kentucky farmers for the first new crops.[18] Between 2014 and 2015, Kentucky's hemp crops grew from 33 to 1,700 acres.[19] Comer also advocated for national hemp deregulation.[20]

Comer founded the Kentucky Proud Farm to Campus program,[21] and created a mobile science centers program for primary and secondary school students to learn about agricultural sciences.[22]

2015 gubernatorial election[edit]

Comer in 2014

On August 2, 2014, during the annual Fancy Farm picnic, Comer announced he would seek the Republican nomination for governor of Kentucky in the 2015 election.[23] His running mate was State Senator Christian McDaniel.[24] At the conclusion of voting in the May 19 election, Comer was 83 votes behind businessman Matt Bevin. The Associated Press, calling the race a "virtual tie", did not call it for either candidate. Comer refused to concede and said he would request a recanvass.[25] The request was filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State's office on May 20, with Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes ordering the recanvass to begin at 9:00 a.m. on May 28.[26][27] After the recanvass, Grimes announced that Bevin remained 83 votes ahead of Comer.[28] She also said that should Comer want a full recount, it would require a court order from the Franklin Circuit Court.[29] On May 29, Comer announced he would not request a recount and conceded the nomination to Bevin.[30]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

2016[edit]

In 2016, Comer entered the Republican primary election for the 1st congressional district of Kentucky against two other competitors. Before the primary, he was endorsed by the National Rifle Association and the US Chamber of Commerce.[31] He won the primary with 60.6% of the vote.[28] Comer was elected to the House with 72.6% of the vote.[16] Since Whitfield had resigned in September, Comer actually ran in two elections on November 8–a special election for the last two months of Whitfield's 11th term, and a regular election for a full two-year term. Comer won both elections over Democratic nominee Samuel L. Gaskins with over 72% of the vote.[32] He was sworn in soon after the results were certified, giving him two months' more seniority over the rest of the 2017 freshman class.

Comer being sworn in by Speaker Paul Ryan

Tenure[edit]

During his first few months in office, Comer held several town hall meetings, where he discussed the Congress's early platform.[33] He also partnered with Murray State University to form the Congressman James Comer Congressional Agriculture Fellowship program,[34] and advocated for agricultural legislation reform.[35] He criticized the regulatory policies of Barack Obama,[36] and supported the early domestic policies and actions of Donald Trump. Comer is a social conservative on "same-sex marriage and abortion".[37] He believes the trade embargo on Cuba should be lifted.[38]

Comer voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[39] After the bill passed, he said: "I am proud to support this critical part of President Trump's pro-growth agenda that will fulfill this promise to the American people who have struggled under the weight of Washington bureaucrats for far too long."[40]

Comer was an original cosponsor of the Hemp Farming Act, which legalized hemp nationwide and removed federal regulations on the crop.[41] The bill was later included in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 and signed into law by Trump on December 20, 2018.[42] Comer was a member of the conference committee that negotiated its final version.[43]

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Comer and Representative Suzanne Bonamici introduced legislation that would protect access to school lunches for school districts throughout the country that had to close because of the pandemic.[44] The COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response Act allows the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to waive requirements for children to gather at schools in order for school officials and food service personnel to distribute reimbursable, nutritious meals. It also gives local school officials discretion over substitutions for meal components if supply or procurement is disrupted.[45] When introducing the bill, Comer said, "this bill is a critical step toward ensuring that our students maintain access to the school meals they rely on for their health and well-being".[44] After it cleared the House and Senate, Trump signed the legislation into law on March 18.[45]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Health care[edit]

Comer supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").[47]

Economic issues[edit]

In 2016, Comer called the Obama administration's final budget a "disaster in the making". He believes that federal spending must become "under control" to not create "mountains of debt".[47] In 2017, he voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was estimated to add $1.49 trillion to the national debt.[48]

Comer opposes paid parental leave for federal workers.[49]

Immigration[edit]

Comer opposes amnesty and sanctuary cities. He supports Executive Order 13767, the building of a wall along the Mexico–U.S. border.[47]

Abortion[edit]

Comer is anti-abortion.[47]

Drug policy[edit]

Comer supports declassifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic. He supports growing hemp. He says there is "simply not enough support for medical marijuana legalization across the board".[50]

LGBT rights[edit]

Comer opposes same-sex marriage.[47] He also opposes banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and voted against the Equality Act in 2019.[51][52] Comer voted against the Respect for Marriage Act in 2022.[53]

Iraq[edit]

In June 2021, Comer was one of 49 House Republicans to vote to repeal the AUMF against Iraq.[54][55]

Electoral history[edit]

Kentucky 53rd State House District Republican Primary, 2000[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 3,969 81.33
Republican Donnie Mayfield Polston 911 18.67
Total votes 4,880 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2000[57]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 11,051 100.0
Total votes 11,051 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2002[58]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 9,361 100.0
Total votes 9,361 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2004[59]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 12,247 100.0
Total votes 12,247 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2006[60]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 10,876 100.0
Total votes 10,876 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2008[61]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 12,482 100.0
Total votes 12,482 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2010[62]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 12,040 100.0
Total votes 12,040 100.0
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Republican Primary, 2011[63]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 86,316 66.67
Republican Rob Rothenburger 43,150 33.33
Total votes 129,466 100.0
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture General Election, 2011[64]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 519,183 63.79
Democratic Robert "Bob" Farmer 294,663 36.21
Total votes 813,846 100.0
Kentucky Governor Republican Primary, 2015[65]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Matt Bevin (Jenean Hampton) 70,480 32.90
Republican James R. Comer (Chris McDaniel) 70,397 32.87
Republican Hal Heiner (K.C. Crosbie) 57,951 27.06
Republican Will T. Scott (Rodney Coffey) 15,365 7.17
Total votes 214,193 100.0
Kentucky 1st Congressional District Republican Primary, 2016[66]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 24,342 60.59
Republican Mike Pape 9,357 23.29
Republican Jason Batts 5,578 13.88
Republican Miles A. Caughey Jr. 896 2.23
Total votes 40,173 100.0
Kentucky 1st Congressional District Special Election, 2016[67]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 209,810 72.19
Democratic Samuel L. Gaskins 80,813 27.81
Total votes 290,623 100.0
Kentucky 1st Congressional District General Election, 2016[68]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 216,959 72.56
Democratic Samuel L. Gaskins 81,710 27.33
Write-in votes Terry McIntosh 332 0.11
Total votes 299,001 100.0
Kentucky 1st Congressional District General Election, 2018[69]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 172,167 68.59
Democratic Paul Walker 78,849 31.41
Total votes 251,016 100.0
Kentucky's 1st congressional district, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James Comer (incumbent) 246,329 75.0
Democratic James Rhodes 82,141 25.0
Total votes 328,470 100.0

Personal life[edit]

Comer is married to Tamara Jo "TJ" Comer and has three children. He has attended First Baptist Church of Tompkinsville and Elkhorn Baptist Church.[1][70]

On May 5, 2015, Comer was accused of physical and mental abuse by Marilyn Thomas, a woman he dated while attending Western Kentucky University in 1993.[71] He has said he believes the accusation was a political stunt to hinder his gubernatorial campaign.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "James Comer, Jr.'s Biography". Votesmart.org. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  2. ^ "Bioguide Search". bioguide.congress.gov.
  3. ^ a b c Barton, Ryland (May 13, 2015). "James Comer's Quest To 'Pass A Bold Agenda' Gets Bumpy".
  4. ^ "KY Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer to Keynote Farm Family Night at MCTC". maysville.kctcs.edu.
  5. ^ "Comer combines experience in bid". www.paducahsun.com.
  6. ^ "Comer commemorates May beef month in Kentucky". May 10, 2013.
  7. ^ Loftus, Tom. "Comer confident despite campaign 'turbulence'". The Courier-Journal.
  8. ^ "Comer and Bob Farmer will face off for agriculture commissioner".
  9. ^ "Clinton County News » 2011 – The Year In Review". clintonnews.net.
  10. ^ "Ag Commissioner James Comer ending first year in office as it began – full steam ahead - KyForward.com". www.kyforward.com.
  11. ^ Kentucky Registry of Election Finance
  12. ^ "Bluegrass Beacon: Edelen takes the farm for government transparency". May 4, 2012.
  13. ^ "America's hemp epicenter: Kentucky ag commissioner excites enthusiasts". October 14, 2015.
  14. ^ "Lexington, KY local and state news by the Lexington Herald-Leader". Kentucky.com. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  15. ^ Bastian, Jonathan (February 6, 2014). "Up Front TV: Kentucky Ag Commissioner James Comer on Hemp, GOP's Future, Felon Voting Rights - 89.3 WFPL". Wfpl.org. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  16. ^ a b Markgraf, Matt (February 10, 2017). "Congressman James Comer Talks President Trump, Trade Deals, Regulations, Hemp".
  17. ^ "Comer, growers, industry leaders announce array of hemp projects".
  18. ^ "Kentucky CBD: Back to the Future with Industrial Hemp". May 12, 2015.
  19. ^ "Kentucky's 2015 Hemp Crop to Exceed 1,700 Acres; Up from 33 Acres in 2014". May 8, 2015.
  20. ^ Colston, Kenny (April 23, 2013). "Ag Commissioner James Comer Heading to Washington to Talk Hemp - 89.3 WFPL News Louisville".
  21. ^ cmason@bgdailynews.com, CHARLES A. MASON. "Gubernatorial hopeful Comer speaks about farm program".
  22. ^ "Comer launches mobile science units to teach kids about agriculture".
  23. ^ "Ag. Commissioner James Comer announces run for governor in 2015". wdrb.com. August 2, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  24. ^ "James Comer Introduces Running Mate Chris McDaniel In Kentucky Gubernatorial Campaign Kick-Off". wkms.org. September 9, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  25. ^ "Officials say Bevin, Comer race too close to call". Wkyt.com. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  26. ^ (PDF). May 26, 2015 https://web.archive.org/web/20150526004246/http://apps.sos.ky.gov/temp/ComerRecanvass.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 26, 2015. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ "Secretary Grimes Receives Recanvass Request from James Comer and Chris McDaniel". Kentucky.gov. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  28. ^ a b c Hagen, Lisa (October 21, 2015). "After Near-Miss in Kentucky Governor's Race, James Comer Tries a Congressional Comeback". The Atlantic.
  29. ^ "Review shows Bevin holding 83-vote lead in Kentucky GOP primary". Wkyt.com. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  30. ^ "Comer concedes, Bevin to face Conway in race for governor". Wkyt.com. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  31. ^ Null, John (April 27, 2016). "[AUDIO] James Comer Talks Bid for 1st District Congressional Seat Ahead of May 17 Primary".
  32. ^ "James Comer Elected to Fill Open Seat in Kentucky's 1st District". Roll Call. November 9, 2016.
  33. ^ Director, Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News. "Comer Town Hall Set in Heart of Farmland USA". surfky.com.
  34. ^ "Congressman James Comer and Murray State University Hutson School of Agriculture partner for agriculture fellowship – The Blue & Gold". msublueandgold.org.
  35. ^ Markgraf, Matt (April 11, 2017). "Congressman Comer Talks Farm Bill, Ag Industry, Healthcare in Hopkinsville".
  36. ^ "West Kentucky Star - News".
  37. ^ Markgraf, Matt (April 11, 2017). ""That Was Not an Act of War" Comer Talks Syrian Strike and More with Murray Business Leaders".
  38. ^ Markgraf, Matt (March 13, 2017). "Rep. Comer: Kentucky Ag Industry Would Benefit from Lifting Embargo on Cuba".
  39. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  40. ^ "Congressman Comer votes for final version of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act | The Ohio County Monitor". Ohio County Monitor. December 19, 2017. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  41. ^ "Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (2018 - H.R. 5485)". GovTrack.us.
  42. ^ "Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 - H.R. 2)". GovTrack.us.
  43. ^ "Comer gains seat on farm bill conference committee". AP NEWS. July 18, 2018.
  44. ^ a b York, Dalton (March 11, 2020). "Comer Introduces Bill To Protect School Lunches During Coronavirus Outbreak". www.wkms.org.
  45. ^ a b McSwine, Bobbi (March 19, 2020). "Bill to allow students to receive meals during coronavirus outbreak signed into law".
  46. ^ "Membership". Republican Study Committee. December 6, 2017. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  47. ^ a b c d e "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  48. ^ Bryan, Bob. "The giant Senate tax bill barely squeaked by a critical test". Business Insider. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  49. ^ "Federal workers would be eligible for paid leave for more reasons under this House bill". The Washington Post. 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  50. ^ Harvey, Laura. "Comer meets with residents". The Messenger. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  51. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 217".
  52. ^ "House Debate on the Equality Act". C-SPAN. May 17, 2019.
  53. ^ Washington, U. S. Capitol Room H154; p:225-7000, DC 20515-6601 (July 19, 2022). "Roll Call 373 Roll Call 373, Bill Number: H. R. 8404, 117th Congress, 2nd Session". Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  54. ^ "House votes to repeal 2002 Iraq War authorization". NBC News.
  55. ^ https://clerk.house.gov/evs/2021/roll172.xml[bare URL]
  56. ^ "2000 Primary and General Election Results". Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  57. ^ "2000 Primary and General Election Results". Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  58. ^ "2002 Primary and General Election Results". Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  59. ^ "2004 Primary and General Election Results". Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  60. ^ "2006 Primary and General Election Results". Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  61. ^ "2008 Primary and General Election Results". Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  62. ^ "2010 Primary and General Election Results" (PDF). Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  63. ^ "2011 Primary and General Election Results" (PDF). Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  64. ^ "2011 Primary and General Election Results" (PDF). Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  65. ^ "2015 Primary and General Election Results" (PDF). Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  66. ^ "2016 Primary and General Election Results" (PDF). Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  67. ^ "Special Elections - 2016 - 1st Congressional District" (PDF). Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  68. ^ "2016 Primary and General Election Results" (PDF). Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  69. ^ "2018 Primary and General Election Results" (PDF). Kentucky State Board of Elections. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  70. ^ "Comer Tweets about events and services at "Forks of the Elkhorn [Southern] Baptist Church" with relative Frequency". Twitter.com. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  71. ^ Gerth, Joseph (May 5, 2015). "College girlfriend says James Comer abused her". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved November 16, 2016.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky
2012–2016
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 1st congressional district

2016–present
Incumbent
Preceded by Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee
2020–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
234th
Succeeded by