Drew Curtis: long shot, high hopes

Illustration by Elizabeth Glass

Lexington Native on Independent ticket for governor

By Cheyene Miller

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Drew Curtis has been using humor to address serious issues for years, but when things started falling in place for the 2015 Kentucky gubernatorial election, he decided it was time to get serious about making a change.

Running on the Independent ticket, the owner and founder of www.fark.com, a community website where members can comment on news articles with satirical headlines, said he decided to run based on a “general frustration with the quality of people that are running for office.”

Curtis’ website, which he describes as a mix between The Daily Show and The Drudge Report, is part of an increasingly popular brand of satirical news coverage like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Curtis said Oliver specifically is doing great things for journalism.

“He takes an incredibly boring subject like net neutrality and makes a 10 minute, humorous monologue out of it that is not only interesting, but also hits all of the points that are actually important,” Curtis said of Oliver, who Curtis said engages in “possibly the purest form of journalism that’s out there.”

Curtis, a Lexington native who lives in Versailles, is challenging Democratic candidate and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and Republican candidate and businessman Matt Bevin.

Unlike his opponents Conway and Bevin, who ran in the primary campaign against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell last year, Curtis has no political background and said that gives him a unique insight.

“If anything I’m very apolitical and it was something I had a huge distaste for,” said Curtis. He said his qualifications to be governor are that he’s an entrepreneur and that one of his “primary talents is operating in a vacuum” because he created a successful digital media website before it was a mature industry.

He doesn’t identify as liberal or conservative, but “pragmatic,” in that he wants to make the state government work more efficiently.

Curtis said neither Conway nor Bevin offer voters any new substance.

“It’s just more of the same stuff we’ve had over and over again,” said Curtis. Curtis also said even though Democrats have dominated the state Capitol for years, a Republican sweep this year would not necessarily yield better results.

Conway and Kentucky Democrats have criticized Bevin for not releasing his tax returns, a tradition among gubernatorial candidates in Kentucky.  Curtis said although he does not want to release his tax returns, he plans to do so at an undecided date and time.

“If people want tours of my house I guess they could have that too, but it feels weird doing it,” said Curtis, who called his tax returns “pretty boring honestly.”

Curtis said his views on some of the big issues in the upcoming election such as the Medicaid expansions and private enrollment under Kynect, the states online insurance market, are complex.

He called Kynect a “large, complicated system,” but said being so quick to dismantle the program might not be the best solution because it’s not clear which the system the state would move to.

“You can’t drop a massive system change on people, and (then) do it again in two years,” Curtis said.  “It’s not a costless transaction.”

The most recent Bluegrass Poll of the race had Conway in a slight lead with 45 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him, and 42 percent for Bevin, with 13 percent undecided.  The poll also released data on a three-candidate race involving Curtis, which had Conway ahead with 43 percent of respondents, Bevin with 38 percent and Curtis with 8 percent.

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.