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May 20, 2016

May 20, 2016

Host Bill Bryant and a panel of Journalists discuss the primary election results and other news from around the commonwealth. Guests: Bill Estep from the Lexington Herald-Leader; Nick Storm from cn|2; and Deborah Yetter from the Louisville Courier-Journal.
S42 E29 Length 26:53 Premiere: 5.20.16

News of the Week: May 20, 2016

In the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, then Sen. Hillary Clinton carried Kentucky by almost 250,000 votes over fellow Sen. Barack Obama.

But in this year’s primary, Clinton scored just over 212,000 total votes and edged Sen. Bernie Sanders by fewer than 2,000 ballots to win the state.

The journalists on Comment on Kentucky analyzed Tuesday’s voting in the Democratic primary for president and other key races in the commonwealth.

Democratic Presidential Primary
Despite spending significant time and money in the commonwealth, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won Kentucky by less than .5 percent of the 454,000 Democrats who voted last week. She carried 38 counties, including Boone, Campbell, Fayette, Jefferson, Kenton, Hardin, and Christian Counties.

Sanders swept Kentucky’s eastern and western coalfields, which Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader attributes to anger at the Obama administration’s environmental regulations and Clinton’s statement at a town hall meeting in March that her policies would put “a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Estep says Clinton later clarified that remark to say that market forces were hurting the mining industry and that she had a plan to help struggling coal communities.

In the end, Clinton’s victory may have come down to securing large numbers of black voters, according to Deborah Yetter of the Louisville Courier-Journal. She says Clinton stumped at two African-American churches in Louisville the weekend before the primary to address those congregations and listen to their concerns.

Given the tight results, Clinton and Sanders will split Kentucky’s 55 Democratic delegates. Nick Storm of cn|2 says two of the state’s superdelegates, Congressman John Yarmuth and Charlotte Lundergan (mother of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes), have announced for Clinton. The remaining three superdelegates have not committed yet. Storm says the superdelegates don’t have to support the candidate that won the state’s popular vote, and even if they have pledged to a candidate, they can change their minds up until the Democratic National Convention in July.

Other Federal Races
In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Jim Gray and incumbent Republican Sen. Rand Paul easily won their respective primaries. Storm says Gray, who is mayor of Lexington, will make Paul’s failed presidential bid an issue in the campaign. Gray contends that Paul’s ambitions to the White House caused him to neglect the state during the past months, but Storm says he’s uncertain whether Gray’s argument will be effective against the senator. With Democratic voters more concentrated in Kentucky’s more populous communities, Storm says Gray will likely focus his campaign efforts on 20 or 30 counties to try to drive as much turnout as possible.

Storm adds that Paul is likely to paint Gray as a supporter of President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and other national Democratic figures who are unpopular in Kentucky.

In the 1st Congressional district in southern and western Kentucky, former Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer easily won the Republican primary. Storm says Comer was able to garner significant support around his home county of Monroe, which is a GOP stronghold. Storm says the second-place finisher in the race, Mike Pape, tried to run as an outsider and align his campaign with presidential candidate Donald Trump. But Pape, who worked for retiring Rep. Ed Whitfield, only got 23 percent of the vote in the district compared to Comer’s 61 percent.

State Legislative Contests
Two veteran state lawmakers went down to defeat in Tuesday’s voting. Deborah Yetter says former Louisville Metro Council member Attica Scott defeated Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom Riner in the 41st House district. Riner had been in the legislature for 34 years. Yetter says no Republican filed to run in that district, so Scott will be the new representative and the first African American woman to serve in the General Assembly since 2000.

In the 33rd House district in Jefferson and Oldham Counties, Republican incumbent Rep. Ron Crimm lost to Louisville attorney Jason Nemes. Nick Storm says Crimm had been in the legislature for 20 years.

In other closely watched races, the incumbents survived their primary contests. In the 33rd Senate district in Louisville, Sen. Gerald Neal defeated two Democratic challengers. Yetter says Neal, who has been in the Senate since 1989, won with 48 percent of the vote.

In eastern Kentucky’s 31st Senate district, Sen. Ray Jones held off Democratic contender Glenn Hammond. Bill Estep says Jones spent more than $400,000 in what he describes as an acrimonious race in which the candidates tried to link each other to President Obama and the so-called war on coal.

And Estep says House Speaker Greg Stumbo worked hard to keep his seat in the 95th district. Stumbo defeated former state representative Jimmy Rose by eight points.

Coal Jobs Hit Record Low
Kentucky has the fewest number of working coal miners since 1898, according to Estep. He says there are now about 3,900 miners in the commonwealth. That compares to 15,600 miners in early 2009. Despite a number of federal grants and diversification efforts, Estep says the region is still struggling to replace coal jobs as that industry has contracted. He says analysts believe the state’s remaining coal reserves will be mined for years to come, but the employment level will never be what it once was.

Estep says compliance with coal mine reclamation rules has improved slightly in the most recent reporting period. He says 69 percent of inspections showed no surface mining impacts beyond the mine sites. That’s up 1 percent from the previous reporting period, but down from a high of 88 percent compliance a few years ago, according to Estep.

The opinions expressed on Comment on Kentucky and in this program synopsis are the responsibility of the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of KET.

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Comment on Kentucky

About Comment on Kentucky

KET's longest-running public affairs program has been assembling journalists to offer perspectives on the week's news and newsmakers since 1974. The program is hosted by Bill Bryant.

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Season 42 Episodes

October 28, 2016

S42 E52 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.28.16

October 21, 2016

S42 E51 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 10.21.16

October 14, 2016

S42 E50 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.14.16

October 7, 2016

S42 E49 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 10.7.16

September 30, 2016

S42 E48 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.30.16

September 23, 2016

S42 E47 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 9.23.16

September 16, 2016

S42 E46 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.15.16

September 9, 2016

S42 E45 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.9.16

September 2, 2016

S42 E44 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.2.16

August 26, 2016

S42 E43 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.26.16

August 19, 2016

S42 E42 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.19.16

August 12, 2016

S42 E41 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.12.16

August 5, 2016

S42 E40 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 8.5.16

July 29, 2016

S42 E39 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.29.16

July 22, 2016

S42 E38 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.22.16

July 15, 2016

S42 E37 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.15.16

July 8, 2016

S42 E36 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.7.16

July 1, 2016

S42 E35 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.1.16

June 24, 2016

S42 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.24.16

June 17, 2016

S42 E33 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.17.16

June 10, 2016

S42 E32 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.10.16

June 3, 2016

S42 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.3.16

May 27, 2016

S42 E30 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 5.27.16

May 20, 2016

S42 E29 Length 26:53 Premiere Date 5.20.16

May 13, 2016

S42 E28 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.13.16

May 6, 2016

S42 E27 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.6.16

April 29, 2016

S42 E26 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.29.16

April 22, 2016

S42 E25 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.22.16

April 15, 2016

S42 E24 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.15.16

April 8, 2016

S42 E23 Length 26:39 Premiere Date 4.7.16

April 1, 2016

S42 E22 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 3.31.16

March 25, 2016

S42 E21 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.25.16

March 18, 2016

S42 E20 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 3.18.16

March 11, 2016

S42 E19 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.11.16

March 4, 2016

S42 E18 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.4.16

February 26, 2016

S42 E17 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 2.26.16

February 19, 2016

S42 E16 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 2.19.16

February 12, 2016

S42 E15 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 2.12.16

February 5, 2016

S42 E14 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 2.5.16

January 29, 2016

S42 E13 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 1.29.16

January 22, 2016

S42 E12 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.22.16

January 15, 2016

S42 E11 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 1.15.16

January 8, 2016

S42 E10 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 1.8.16

January 1, 2016

S42 E9 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.1.16

December 18, 2015

S42 E7 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 12.18.15

December 11, 2015

S42 E6 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 12.11.15

December 4, 2015

S42 E5 Length 24:51 Premiere Date 12.4.15

November 27, 2015

S42 E4 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 11.27.15

November 20, 2015

S42 E3 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.20.15

November 13, 2015

S42 E2 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.13.15

November 6, 2015

S42 E1 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.6.15

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