Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1994, 10th term.

Born: May 25, 1943, Hopkinsville

Home: Hopkinsville

Education: U. of KY, B.S. 1965, J.D. 1969

Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1969–79; Owner, Rhodes Oil Co., 1975–79; Cnsl., Seaboard System Railroad, 1979–83; V.P., CSX, 1983–91; Cnsl., Interstate Commerce Comm., 1991–93.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Methodist

Family: married (Connie) , 1 children

Ed Whitfield, a Republican elected in 1994, is more moderate than his Kentucky GOP colleagues. But as the influential chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee, he shares their ardent devotion to the coal industry and their skepticism of federal regulations.

Whitfield grew up in Hopkinsville and Madisonville, in a family with Pennyrile roots going back to the 18th century. He served in the Army Reserve, practiced law in Hopkinsville, and was elected to the state legislature in 1973 as a Democrat. After one term in Frankfort, Whitfield ran an oil distributorship in the west Kentucky coalfields, and then in 1979, moved to Washington, D.C., to become an executive for the Seaboard and CSX railroads. He was legal counsel to the chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission from 1991 to 1993, and then returned to west Kentucky to run for Congress.

The district had been represented by quiet, long-serving, conservative Democrats. But in 1994, the one-term incumbent, Tom Barlow, was a free-spirited supporter of the Clinton administration. Encouraged by Sen. Mitch McConnell,Whitfield ran as a Republican, turned aside criticism that he was a carpetbagger, and concentrated on attacking Barlow’s vote for Clinton’s first-term budget and tax increase. With help from the mountain counties and running strongly in the Pennyrile, Whitfield won 51%-49% in that year’s big Republican sweep.

In the House, Whitfield has a moderate-to-conservative voting record. He generally takes his party’s side on major votes, but occasionally shows his independence. He was one of just 10 Republicans in March 2012 to oppose Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s fiscal 2013 budget blueprint, saying: “I am not going to vote for a budget that takes more than 20 years to be in balance.” He is an advocate of a two-year budget plan, an idea that has gained little traction with GOP leaders.

In 2009, Whitfield supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act extending the statute of limitations in equal pay lawsuits and voted for the minimum wage hike two years earlier—both Democratic priorities. Though usually soft-spoken, he can get testy with Democrats, as he did in January 2012, when Energy and Commerce’s ranking Democrat, California’s Henry Waxman, demanded that the conservative Koch brothers (of Koch Industries in Kansas) be subpoenaed to testify at a hearing on the Keystone XL oil pipeline. After trying to call a recess, Whitfield snapped, “I’m the chairman, and I’m telling you right now we’re going to recess for 10 minutes!” before banging his gavel and walking out.

Whitfield’s subcommittee chairmanship puts him at the helm of Republican efforts to fight Obama administration environmental policies, including rules aimed at slashing smog and soot pollution from power plants that the administration was expected to roll out in 2013. But Whitfield expressed confidence in January 2013 that he could work with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, the new Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman who has a reputation as a bipartisan dealmaker.

Whitfield is a strong proponent of “clean coal” technology as well as sequestration research that experts say could someday lead to ways to store underground carbon captured in the atmosphere. He has shrugged off environmentalists’ concerns about preparing for a fossil fuel-free world. “We’ve got a 250-year reserve of coal in this country, and my understanding is that we have about the same length of time in oil and maybe even more in natural gas,” he told National Journal. He also has called on the Environmental Protection Agency to examine the economic impact of all its pending regulations before issuing them, citing their potential negative impact on businesses and job creation. A bill he introduced in March 2012 would make major changes in how improvements are made to deteriorating river locks and dams. It won him a “Golden Fleece” award from the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, which said it would further subsidize an already heavily subsidized barge industry.

On health issues before the committee, Whitfield authored a successful 2005 law to discourage “doctor shopping” by prescription drug addicts. It established an electronic database that states can use to monitor people who cross state lines to buy pharmaceuticals. Whitfield has also used his seat on the influential panel to tend to local concerns. He worked to secure federal aid for workers exposed to radiation at the uranium plant in Paducah, and he overcame objections from the Bush administration to cleaning up the site, which is projected to cost more than $3 billion and last until around 2030.

A thoroughbred owner, Whitfield cosponsored legislation in 2006 to ban the killing of horses for meat. The House overwhelmingly passed the bill, but it died in the Senate. He also has sponsored bills to restrict performance-enhancing drugs given to racehorses.

When he ran for reelection in 1996, Whitfield drew Democratic opposition from lawyer Dennis Null, and won, 54%-46%, carrying 18 of the district’s 31 counties. Two years later, he faced former Rep. Tom Barlow and won 55%-45%. Since then, he has won easily. He defeated Barlow a third time in 2006, increasing his winning margin to 60%-40%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3115

(202) 225-3547

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2184
Washington, DC 20515-1701

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3115

(202) 225-3547

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2184
Washington, DC 20515-1701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(270) 885-8079

(270) 885-8598

1403 South Main Street
Hopkinsville, KY 42240-2107

DISTRICT OFFICE

(270) 885-8079

(270) 885-8598

1403 South Main Street
Hopkinsville, KY 42240-2107

DISTRICT OFFICE

(270) 826-4180

(270) 826-6783

Municipal Building Suite 224
Henderson, KY 42420-3821

DISTRICT OFFICE

(270) 826-4180

(270) 826-6783

Municipal Building Suite 224
Henderson, KY 42420-3821

DISTRICT OFFICE

(270) 442-6901

(270) 442-6805

Century Building Room 104
Paducah, KY 42001-2771

DISTRICT OFFICE

(270) 442-6901

(270) 442-6805

Century Building Room 104
Paducah, KY 42001-2771

DISTRICT OFFICE

(270) 487-9509

(270) 487-0019

Monroe County Courthouse Suite F
Tompkinsville, KY 42167-1548

DISTRICT OFFICE

(270) 487-9509

(270) 487-0019

Monroe County Courthouse Suite F
Tompkinsville, KY 42167-1548

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(270) 887-1615

(270) 887-1631

108 Alumni Avenue
Hopkinsville, KY 42240

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

108 Alumni Avenue
Hopkinsville, KY 42240

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Marty Irby
Communications Director

marty.irby@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3115

Animal Rights

Marty Irby
Communications Director

marty.irby@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3115

Appropriations

Allison Busbee
Policy Coordinator

Marty Irby
Communications Director

marty.irby@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3115

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Budget

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Campaign

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Commerce

Allison Busbee
Policy Coordinator

Marty Irby
Communications Director

marty.irby@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3115

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Congress

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Economics

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Education

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Energy

Allison Busbee
Policy Coordinator

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Environment

Allison Busbee
Policy Coordinator

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Family

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Foreign

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Govt Ops

Allison Busbee
Policy Coordinator

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Gun Issues

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Health

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Allison Busbee
Policy Coordinator

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Immigration

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Intergovernmental

Allison Busbee
Policy Coordinator

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Judiciary

Marty Irby
Communications Director

marty.irby@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3115

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Labor

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Land Use

Allison Busbee
Policy Coordinator

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Military

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Religion

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Science

Marty Irby
Communications Director

marty.irby@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3115

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Small Business

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Social Security

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Tax

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Telecommunications

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Allison Busbee
Policy Coordinator

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Transportation

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Urban Affairs

Michael Lambert
Legislative Correspondent

Veterans

Melissa Buchanan
Legislative Director

Women

Cassandra Leonard
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Ed Whitfield
Votes: 199,956
Percent: 69.63%
Charles Hatchett
Votes: 87,199
Percent: 30.37%
2012 PRIMARY
Ed Whitfield
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Ed Whitfield
Votes: 153,519
Percent: 71.25%
Charles Hatchett
Votes: 61,960
Percent: 28.75%
2010 PRIMARY
Ed Whitfield
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
Ed Whitfield
Votes: 178,107
Percent: 64.35%
Heather Ryan
Votes: 98,674
Percent: 35.65%
2008 PRIMARY
Ed Whitfield
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (71%), 2008 (64%), 2006 (60%), 2004 (67%), 2002 (65%), 2000 (58%), 1998 (55%), 1996 (54%), 1994 (51%)

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