Kentucky US Rep. Thomas Massie Charts His Own Path

Created: 20 January, 2013
Updated: 13 October, 2022
3 min read

Congressman Geoff Davis, a Republican serving Kentucky's 4th congressional district, announced in 2011 that he was retiring from office at the end of his term, but in the summer of 2012, Davis resigned his seat immediately.

With a resignation so late in his term and hoping to save the cost of a replacement election on another date, this created an unusual scenario: a special election and general election on the same day. Thomas Massie, the judge-executive of Lewis County and the winner of the May Republican primary, holds the rare distinction of being sworn in immediately following the November election.

Before he became a congressman, Massie was born in West Virginia and moved to Kentucky, and became a stand-out in several fields. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massie is the owner of 24 technology patents and still receives royalties on a patent developed during his undergraduate thesis.

A judge-executive before taking office, a position in Kentucky local government that is likened to being mayor of the county, Massie has quickly set himself apart from many of his colleagues.

At the start of the 113th Congress, Massie broke ranks and opposed John Boehner (R-OH) for Speaker of the House. In a sign of solidarity with his colleague and lack of confidence in current leadership, Massie cast his vote for Michigan Republican Justin Amash, one of four Republicans allegedly removed from their committee assignments because they had not sufficiently voted the party line.

In another departure from his party, Massie voted against HR 3783, a resolution for a "comprehensive strategy to counter Iran's growing hostile presence in the Western Hemisphere" that many saw as furthering the likelihood of a future US-Iran confrontation.

Almost immediately following the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, when many were clamoring for more or stricter gun free school zones, Massie announced legislation that would effectively repeal such zones. Despite much objection, Massie defends his position:

"A bigger federal government can't solve the problem. Weapon bans and gun free zones are unconstitutional. They do not and cannot prevent criminals or the mentally ill from committing acts of violence. But they often prevent victims of such violence from protecting themselves."

In another of his more controversial votes, Massie voted against a Hurricane Sandy relief bill citing the increased debt and high amounts of congressional pork in it. Although not directly affecting his constituents in Kentucky, voices in the district objected to his vote fearing that it might indicate Massie would vote against relief packages for the district or that it might imperil the 4th district's ability to receive other beneficial funds.

Reverting to his days as a farmer and agricultural scientist, Massie has co-sponsored legislation to legalize industrial hemp. Although popularly identified with marijuana, Massie wishes to see the plant legalized and tolerated by the federal government. He argues it can help revive a Kentucky industry that once thrived with its production of hemp for products such as cosmetics, clothing, and paper products.

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Although he has been in office for only a couple of months, at least one super PAC, Liberty for All, is encouraging him to challenge Kentucky U.S. Senator and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the senatorial primary in 2014. Massie responded, "Absolutely, positively not. Not in the cards." The fact that some see him as a probable challenger to the most powerful and influential Republican Senator in Kentucky history speaks to Massie's potential.

Along with Michigan's Justin Amash, Kentucky U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie is being likened as one of the successors to retired Texas congressman Ron Paul, who endorsed Massie during the election. At only 42 years old and with an early record of voting "no," Massie has the potential to be a voice for the liberty movement for years to come.