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May 6, 2016

May 6, 2016

Journalists from around the state discuss news of the week with host Bill Bryant, including visits to the commonwealth from Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Guests: Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader; Ronnie Ellis of CNHI News Service; and Lawrence Smith of WDRB-TV in Louisville.
S42 E27 Length 26:31 Premiere: 5.6.16

News of the Week: May 6, 2016

The celebrities have left town, the fancy hats have been packed away, and the julep cups are back up on the shelf. The state’s annual rite of spring is history, which means Kentuckians can now turn their attentions from betting on Thoroughbreds to voting in political races.

To celebrate the Derby, the journalists on Comment on Kentucky discussed the Democratic presidential contest and other key races to watch in the state’s May 17 primaries.

Democrats Tout Plans for Coal Miners, College Tuitions
The Democratic presidential candidates and their surrogates made several appearances in the commonwealth last week. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Ashland, while her husband, former President Bill Clinton, appeared in Morehead, Lexington, and Louisville. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigned in Louisville and Lexington.

Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader says Hillary Clinton’s stop in eastern Kentucky was part of a two-day tour of Appalachia scheduled to help her mend fences with displaced coal miners. Clinton has been criticized for telling a town hall forum in March that her plans to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels would put “a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” In Ashland, Brammer says Clinton touted her $30 billion plan to help the region recover as well as retrain out-of-work miners and preserve their health and retirement benefits.

Ronnie Ellis of CNHI News Service says he thinks Clinton was surprised by the frosty reception she received in Appalachia. He says many in the region blame the Obama administration’s environmental regulations for decimating the coal industry, and those negative feelings extend to Clinton. Ellis says the coal industry in Kentucky has lost 12,000 jobs over the last eight years. He says coal now employs only 6,900 people in the state, which is the lowest level in more than a century.

Bernie Sanders has proposed his own $41 billion program to help coal country, according to Lawrence Smith of WDRB-TV in Louisville. He says Sanders drew a large and enthusiastic crowd of mostly young supporters at a Louisville rally last Tuesday. Smith says Sanders received the biggest applause when he promised to provide free college tuition and assist those already saddled with tuition debts.

Although Bill Clinton carried the state in the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections, the prospects for Hillary Clinton look less optimistic. Brammer says both Clintons are expected to return to the state this week in hopes of securing a primary victory against Sanders, but Brammer says he expects a tight race.

State Republican Leaders Not Yet on Trump Bandwagon
Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, many wonder if he can rally the party establishment around his candidacy. Although he won the Kentucky GOP caucus in March, some Republican leaders in the commonwealth have been slow to embrace the New York businessman

Smith says U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell gave Trump a “lukewarm” endorsement this week. The Kentucky Republican pledged to support his party’s nominee and called on Trump unify the GOP.

Ellis adds that McConnell has already given other Republican candidates on the ballot this year permission to distance themselves from Trump and even run ads against the nominee. Ellis adds that anti-Trump sentiment within the GOP extends to conservative columnist George Will, who recently encouraged Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton this year and then focus on finding a better nominee for the 2020 presidential election.

This week, Gov. Matt Bevin declined to back Trump in the presidential race. Smith says the Republican wants to wait until after the GOP convention in July to make his endorsement. During last year’s gubernatorial campaign, Bevin said he liked Dr. Ben Carson the best among the Republican presidential contenders at that point.

Other Key Primary Battles
This year’s primary ballot also includes dozens of state legislative races and a U.S. Senate race.

Incumbent Sen. Rand Paul faces two challengers in the Republican primary. Brammer says the front-runners in the seven-way Democratic primary are Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Sellus Wilder, a former Frankfort city commissioner and mayor pro tem. Ellis describes Wilder as an “unabashed progressive” who might benefit from a strong turnout of Bernie Sanders supporters. Ellis says he doubts Wilder can beat Gray’s name recognition and financial advantage, but he says Wilder could weaken Gray heading into a general election campaign.

Among the 19 state Senate seats up for re-election this year, Ellis says he’s watching contests in the 15th and 31st senatorial districts. In the 15th, four Republicans are vying for the seat that represents Boyle, Lincoln, and Pulaski Counties: Rick Girdler, Don Moss, and Joshua Nichols of Somerset; and Michael Keck of Science Hill. There is no Democrat in that race, so the winner of the GOP primary will succeed Sen. Chris Girdler, who is not seeking reelection.

Then in the 31st, incumbent Democrat and Senate Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones will face Pikeville attorney Glenn Martin Hammond. Ellis says Hammond is positioning himself as a conservative Democrat, and running commercials that associate Jones with the policies of President Obama and former Secretary Clinton. The 31st senatorial district includes Elliott, Lawrence, Martin, Morgan, and Pike Counties. The winner of the Democratic primary will face no Republican opposition in the November election.

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.

Program Details

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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