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2020 Primary Election Candidates, Part Three

Host Renee Shaw discusses the 2020 Democratic primary election for the 6th Congressional District with candidates Josh Hicks and Daniel Kemph.
Season 27 Episode 22 Length 56:33 Premiere: 06/01/20

Two Democrats Vie for Congress in the 6th District

Kentucky Tonight hosted the third in a series of discussions about the 2020 primary elections as Renee Shaw spoke with the two Democrats running for Congress in the state’s 6th district. The candidates talked about police brutality, economic policy, health care, education, and more.

Daniel Kemph is a southern California native who started his career in mortgage banking. He later became a software developer and project consultant focused on banking products. Kemph has lived in Kentucky since 2012, and he ran for Congress in the 6th district in 2018.

“I’m here to fight for Kentucky families for quality, affordable health care,” says Kemph. “I want to make meaningful work here close to home so that our children and grandchildren can stay locally, and I want work to fully fund public education so that we treat our educators like the professionals that they are.”

Josh Hicks was raised on a Fleming County farm. After four years in the Marines, he worked as a policeman in Maysville while attending Morehead State University. He later attended the University of Kentucky College of Law and now operates his own legal firm in Lexington.

“If you don’t feel like your vote matters, if you don’t feel like your voice matters, I know what that feels like because I’ve been there,” Hicks says. “I pledge to hear, to see, and to speak with your voice in Washington, D.C.”

The 6th Congressional district comprises all or parts of 19 central and eastern Kentucky counties including Anderson, Bath, Bourbon, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Fleming, Franklin, Harrison, Jessamine, Madison, Menifee, Montgomery, Nicholas, Powell, Robertson, Scott, Wolfe, and Woodford.

Racism and Inequality

As a former policeman and field trainer for officers, Hicks says he believes there is systemic racism in law enforcement.

“We police communities of color differently than we police communities without color, and that’s a tremendous injustice,” says Hicks. “We have to have some accountability, we have to get back to these community policing principals, we have to get back to the idea of public service,”

Responding to killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week, both candidates say the three officers who did nothing to stop policeman Derek Chauvin from kneeling on Floyd’s neck should also face criminal charges.

“Those fellow officers were accessories to murder,” says Kemph. “This is police brutality right here in the 21st century... and we’re all seeing it right before our eyes.”

Hicks adds if a law enforcement officer can watch what happened to Floyd and not decry it as wrong, then they don’t deserve to wear a police uniform or badge.

Economic Policy

Kemph says police brutality is a symptom of a larger illness: the wealth gap that leads poor and minority Americans to feel left behind and disenfranchised. He says deregulation, especially on banks, payday lenders, and insurance companies, has made that gap even worse.

“This is the full force of capitalism unleashed,” says Kemph. “Capitalism needs guardrails, it needs boundaries... so that we can achieve economic equality.”

Hicks also faults payday lenders, who he says prey on poor families and members of the military. He says economic inequality was evident in the federal CARES Act legislation that included pandemic relief for businesses. But Hicks contends corporations closely connected to powerful politicians and major banks were first in line to get money.

“When we draft legislation like that, our priority has to be the most vulnerable, it has to be the most at risk first, the most under-banked, those who really need this relief to survive,” says Hicks.

He calls for money for infrastructure improvements, especially to expand broadband internet access to rural areas, and tighter environmental regulations as well as toughter punishments for corporations that pollute.

Kemph also calls for stronger environmental laws and a $15 per hour minimum wage. The spiraling national debt must also be addressed, says Kemph.

“Democrats are going to act and be the responsible party in power and they’re going to raise the tax rates, and Republicans are going to cry about it, it’s just inevitable,” says Kemph. “But it’s not going to make my taxes go up, it’s not going make your takes go up. It’s those folks who are making $400,000 a year or more, they’re taxes are going to go up.”

Hicks also says the federal deficit is a problem that he would address it by repealing the tax cuts that Republicans enacted in 2017 and by eliminating wasteful government spending. He adds that he’s tired of how the deficit is often used to deny assistance to struggling Americans.

“Every single time a corporation needs a tax cut, it’s right there – they can’t get the bill out fast enough,” says Hicks. “But every single time there’s inequity in our society and we need things to tangibly improve people’s lives, including right here in Kentucky, the purse is closed.”

Health Care

Lack of access to affordable health care also leads to inequality in America, according to Kemph. He prefers a single-payer system, but says the nation isn’t ready for that yet.

“That’s why I support [a] Medicare opt-in and opt-out program so that Americans can decide for themselves whether Medicare is the answer to our health care challenges,” says Kemph.

Hicks prefers a public option, which he says would provide Americans with more flexibility and untether health insurance from employment. He also wants to lower prescription drug prices and allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Hicks calls for more funding for public health departments so they can hire the contact tracers he contends are needed to contain the spread of COVID-19 and fully restart the economy.

“Contact tracing is going to be the only way, absent a vaccine for this virus, that we’re able to get back to work again,” says Hicks, “and we can’t contact trace if our public health department is running on a shoestring budget.”

Kemph says the federal government could offer matching funds based on benchmarks that reward states that make public health a priority. He argues that political leaders in Washington have failed to properly respond to public health needs during the pandemic.

Both candidates advocate for expanded paid sick leave and maternity leave benefits.


Hicks calls for universal pre-kindergarten and all-day kindergarten, as well as more money for teachers.

“If I can’t bring funding... then I’ll use my voice to advocate for it,” says Hicks. “I’ll use my voice to come and... stand with teachers and say, ‘No more attacks on pensions.’”

Without more pandemic relief to states, Hicks says public funding of higher education will be jeopardy. He says that could cause tuition to go so high that an entire generation of Americans could be priced out of attending college.

Kemph says there should be laws to prevent lenders from trading student loan debt in secondary markets, which he says that turns that debt into an asset. Instead, he says lenders should work to be a partner in a student’s success.

On early childhood education, Kemph says too few Kentucky children attend full-time kindergarten. He says the federal government should help states fully fund pre-K and kindergarten for all children, which he says would help put them on a path to more success later in life.

“If we can spend our federal money early on in childhood development, they become better students later and they become better citizens later,” says Kemph. ”This is the best way to spend federal dollars in our education system.”

Other Issues

On gun rights, Hicks says he is a life-long hunter who supports the Second Amendment. He says universal background checks would help make gun ownership “safe and responsible and not a free for all.” But he opposes a blanket ban on assault weapons. He says a better strategy is keep guns out of the hands of people with known mental health problems or a record of domestic abuse.

Kemph also opposes an assault weapons ban. Instead he advocates for background checks and red-flag laws as well as a minimum age of 21 for gun purchases. He also wants to allow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect data on gun violence, which he says could be used to determine effective firearms legislation.

Both candidates support full funding for the U.S. Postal Service and term limits for federal politicians. Kemph recommends a limit of 10 terms for representatives and four terms for Senators.

The two Democrats also endorse former Vice President Joe Biden’s bid for the presidency. Kemph predicts that Biden will select Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate, while Hicks thinks Biden will pick Florida Congresswoman Val Demings.

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Season 27 Episodes

The Economic State of the State

S27 E44 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 12/14/20

Reopening Kentucky Classrooms During a Coronavirus Surge

S27 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12/07/20

COVID-19's Impact on Kentucky's Health Care System

S27 E42 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 11/23/20

Understanding the Grand Jury System

S27 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/16/20

Analyzing the 2020 Election and State Politics

S27 E40 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/09/20

2020 Election Eve Preview

S27 E39 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 11/02/20

Kentucky's U.S. Senate Race

S27 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/26/20

Legislative Leaders Preview the 2020 General Election

S27 E37 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/19/20

Issues Affecting Kentucky's 4th Congressional District

S27 E36 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 10/12/20

Issues Affecting Kentucky's 3rd Congressional District

S27 E35 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10/05/20

Previewing the 2020 General Election

S27 E34 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 09/28/20

Special Education, Student Mental Health and COVID-19

S27 E33 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/21/20

Challenges and Benefits of Remote Learning in Kentucky

S27 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/14/20

The Impact of COVID-19 on Kentucky's Tourism Industry

S27 E31 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 08/03/20

COVID-19's Impact on Higher Education in Kentucky

S27 E30 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 07/27/20

Reopening Kentucky's Schools

S27 E29 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 07/20/20

Racial Disparities in K-12 Public Education

S27 E28 Length 56:27 Premiere Date 07/13/20

Police Reform Issues

S27 E27 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 06/29/20

Previewing the 2020 Primary Election

S27 E26 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/22/20

Kentucky Tonight: State of Unrest

S27 E25 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/15/20

2020 Primary Election Candidates, Part Four

S27 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/08/20

2020 Primary Election Candidates, Part Three

S27 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/01/20

2020 Primary Election Candidates, Part Two

S27 E21 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/01/20

2020 Primary Election Candidates, Part One

S27 E20 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/27/20

Reopening Rules for Restaurants and Retail

S27 E19 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/18/20

Debating Steps to Restart Kentucky's Economy

S27 E18 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/11/20

COVID-19's Impact on Primary Voting and Local Governments

S27 E17 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/04/20

Reopening Kentucky's Economy

S27 E16 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 04/27/20

Wrapping Up the General Assembly and a COVID-19 Update

S27 E14 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 04/13/20

Health, Legal and Voting Issues During the COVID-19 Outbreak

S27 E12 Length 57:23 Premiere Date 03/30/20

Kentucky's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

S27 E11 Length 58:03 Premiere Date 03/23/20

Finding Agreement on State Budget Issues

S27 E10 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 03/16/20

Election and Voting Legislation

S27 E9 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/09/20

State Budget

S27 E8 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 02/24/20

Debating State Budget Priorities

S27 E7 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 02/17/20

Medical Marijuana

S27 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/10/20

Sports Betting Legislation

S27 E5 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 02/03/20

2020 Kentucky General Assembly

S27 E2 Length 56:37 Premiere Date 01/13/20

2020 Kentucky General Assembly

S27 E1 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/06/20

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Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, is a public affairs discussion program broadcasted live on Monday nights at 8/7c on KET and

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