Skip to Main Content

National Politics

Renee Shaw and guests discuss national politics and how they impact Kentucky. Guests: Ellen Williams, a Republican strategist and owner of a consulting and government relations firm; Mike Ward, a former Congressman and Democratic strategist; Anne Cizmar, Ph.D., a government professor at Eastern Kentucky University; and Steve Voss, Ph.D., a political science professor at the University of Kentucky.
Season 29 Episode 40 Length 56:34 Premiere: 12/05/22

Political Analysts Discuss How the Upcoming U.S. Congress Will Impact Kentucky

With voting completed in the Georgia Senate run-off, the 2022 election season is finally coming to an end.

But don’t worry, the 2023 and 2024 seasons are already underway as politicians and pundits prepare for statewide races in Kentucky next year and national elections the following year. Plus, there’s a lame-duck Congress to navigate before Republicans take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January.

Incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock’s apparent victory in Georgia gives Democrats a 51-49 advantage in the Senate. University of Kentucky political science Professor Stephen Voss says that means Democrats will get more of their members on committees, and they will get to set the rules for the chamber.

Although Sen. Mitch McConnell will not become majority leader as he had hoped, Voss says the Kentuckian will still wield significant power because Senate operations depend on the minority and majority leaders working together.

“A minority leader has a lot more power in the U.S. Senate than in the House of Representatives,” says Voss.

McConnell will continue as leader of Republicans in the Senate after easily defeating a challenge by Florida Sen. Rick Scott. GOP strategist Ellen Williams says McConnell will be “laser-focused” on legislating during the final days of the lame-duck session. She says much work remains on issues like defense spending, electoral reform, and keeping the government open.

What Kentucky’s senior senator won’t do, according to Williams, is get drawn into a confrontation with former President Donald Trump over his controversial statements about the 2020 election or his recent dinner with Kanye West and white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

“Mitch McConnell, if nothing, is about timing, focus, discipline,” says Williams. “He could make a lot of headlines by getting into verbal warfare with Donald Trump, but it serves no purpose and it divides his caucus because he has quite a few members that are big Trump supporters.”

But the reluctance of Republican leaders to directly rebuke the former president is a critical failure, according to Democratic strategist Mike Ward. He says it was Republican leaders in the Senate who forced former President Richard Nixon to resign at the height of the Watergate scandal. Now, Ward says, McConnell and other Republicans must stand up to the threats to democracy and civility posed by Trump.

“Mitch McConnell loves being called the leader,” says Ward. “Well, there are times in our lives when you have to lead, even if it’s a risk, even if you take the chance of losing an election, and this is the time to be the leader.”

New Roles for Kentuckians in the House

Republicans did manage to swing the House, where California Congressman Kevin McCarthy is poised to become speaker in January – if he can secure the requisite 218 votes among a GOP caucus that will number 222 members ranging from moderates to Trump-supporting election deniers.

“There was some talk that perhaps they would have to come up with a compromise candidate with Democrats,” says Eastern Kentucky University government Professor Anne Cizmar. “I think, though, that is very distasteful to the Republicans in House.”

Kentucky 1st district Congressman James Comer is in line to chair the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The Republican has pledged to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, actions of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Myorkas, and President Joe Biden’s family business dealings, including possible influence peddling by the president’s son, Hunter.

“James Comer is going to do a great job on this committee... He’s going to be focused, he’ll be disciplined as well, and he’s a fighter,” says Williams. “He’s going to hold the administration accountable and try to maintain some transparency in some of these big dealings that go on so that they’re not swept under the rug.”

But some question whether Comer’s investigations will gain traction with Americans more worried about inflation, the job market, and crime.

“I think all these oversight hearings are the inside the beltway stuff that most people just don’t care about,” says Voss.

“He will appeal to a particular audience with the type of investigations he has announced,” adds Cizmar. “An audience that is perhaps very conservative, an audience of people who have been talking about Hunter for the entirety of the last two-and-a-half years, but I don’t think that’s what average Americans have been talking about.”

Comer may not have total control over what the oversight panel investigates, says Ward who is a former Congressman from Kentucky’s 3rd district. He says far-right members of the GOP caucus may force a Speaker McCarthy and Comer to examine specious claims for strictly partisan purposes. Plus, Ward argues Comer’s work will provide a good distraction from moves by Republicans to try to cut Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare benefits.

“This is to their advantage to have a committee that will bring up just the biggest red herrings in the world to avoid talking about what they’re doing with the other hand,” says Ward.

But Republicans aren’t the only ones who use investigations to try to drive political narratives. Voss says Democrats hoped the Select Committee on the January 6 attack would give their party an advantage in the midterm elections. That group has done important work, he says, but he also contends it failed to do much to motivate voters this year.

Kentucky’s Congressional delegation will feature a new member next year. State Sen Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville, will succeed retiring 3rd District Rep. John Yarmuth in Washington.

Ward says McGarvey’s experience working with Republican supermajorities in Frankfort to pass 18 bills will serve him well when he faces the new GOP majority in the U.S. House. He says McGarvey will also have good opportunities to bond with Democratic leaders who no longer have to focus on chairing House committees.

“Morgan, as John Yarmuth before him, takes the view that he is Kentucky’s Democratic congressman and needs to watch out for the entire state,” says Ward. “Kentucky has plenty of problems and we need to work together to solve those problems, and that’s the kind of guy Congressman McGarvey will be.”

State Politics

Kentuckians now have less than a month to file to run for statewide constitutional offices in 2023. Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, officially announced is bid for reelection this week, while the Republican gubernatorial field has swelled to a dozen contenders.

Voss says Trump-minded voters in the GOP primary will be able to select from a woman who worked for the former president (Ambassador Kelly Craft), a man who gained his endorsement (Attorney General Daniel Cameron), and several who hope to emulate his far-right pugilistic political style (including state Rep. Savannah Maddox and retired northern Kentucky attorney Eric Deters). Other announced candidates include Auditor Mike Harmon, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck, and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.

“Who knows how that vote ultimately gets subdivided with that many candidates in the race,” says Voss. “When you can win the nomination for a major office with a fairly small percentage of the vote of the small percentage of your society that turned out, it’s not really democracy at that point.”

In the hotly contested GOP gubernatorial primary in 2015, only 13 percent of registered Republicans went to the polls, according to Williams. That race saw businessman Matt Bevin win the nomination by just 83 votes. Now some pundits believe the former governor is considering a second bid for office.

“How does he not run with such a scattered field, knowing he just has to get a simple plurality,” says Ward.

Cizmar says she expects Beshear to tout his connections to President Biden and the projects and federal aid he’s secured with the help of the Democrat’s administration. She says she’s curious to see if Republicans nationalize the race by tying Beshear to Biden since they can no longer use outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “bogeywomen.”

“I definitely think it will get this national flavor, but I’m actually curious as well to see what that will look like from the Republican side,” says Cizmar. “They don’t have maybe some of the traditional foils that they can use in the election.”

Williams says Republicans hope Beshear “cozies up” with Biden, arguing that it’s GOP policies that have boosted the state’s economy in recent years. But she also acknowledges that Kentucky’s off-year gubernatorial election is often seen as a bellwether for presidential elections the following year.

“If Andy Beshear should win, does that bode well for a Democrat in the White House?” says Williams. “I think the stakes are really, really high for the governorship next year for Republicans to win.”

A number of familiar faces have already announced for other statewide offices, including current Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball for auditor, former Deputy Treasurer OJ Oleka for treasurer, former state Rep. Jonathan Shell of Lancaster for Agriculture Commissioner, and former U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman for attorney general.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Pamela Stevenson of Louisville announced late last month that she will run for attorney general. Candidates have until 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6 to file for statewide office.

As those campaigns swing into full gear, state lawmakers will convene in Frankfort for the 2023 General Assembly. Williams says the Republican supermajorities will make tax policy a top agenda item for the 30-day session

“The first vote that you’re going to see taken by both House and Senate members in the General Assembly is to drop the personal income tax rate a half a percent,” says Williams. “I think people will like that.”

Ward contends that such a cut will only benefit the wealthiest Kentuckians, and will force Republicans to find ways to make up for the lower state tax revenues that will result.

“The vast majority of Kentuckians… they’re not going to see a change in their take-home pay,” says Ward. “But they will see a change when they buy things and have to pay a larger sales tax, which is going to be the only solution.”

Sponsored by:

Host Dr. Wayne Tuckson in a dark shirt and gray jacket on the program set with a "Check Schedule" button.Host Dr. Wayne Tuckson in a dark shirt and gray jacket on the program set with a "Check Schedule" button.

Season 29 Episodes

Medical Marijuana Legalization in Kentucky

S29 E44 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/30/23

Kentucky's Juvenile Justice System

S29 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/23/23

Legislation Introduced in the 2023 General Assembly

S29 E42 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/09/23

2023 Legislative Session Preview

S29 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12/19/22

National Politics

S29 E40 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 12/05/22

2022 Election Preview

S29 E39 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/07/22

Inflation and the Economy

S29 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/31/22

Constitutional Amendments 1 & 2

S29 E37 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 10/24/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part Two

S29 E36 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 10/17/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part One

S29 E35 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/10/22

U.S. Senate Candidate Charles Booker

S29 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10/03/22

Discussing Flooding's Impact on Eastern Kentucky Schools

S29 E33 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/26/22

COVID-19, Monkeypox and Influenza

S29 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/12/22

Eastern Kentucky Flooding and Legislative Relief Package

S29 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/29/22

Child Care in Kentucky

S29 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/22/22

School Safety: Debating State Policies

S29 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/01/22

Work, Wages and Welfare

S29 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/25/22

50 Years of Title IX

S29 E26 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/18/22

The Impact of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

S29 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/11/22

Kentucky's Ban on Abortion

S29 E23 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/27/22

Discussing New Developments in the COVID-19 Pandemic

S29 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/20/22

Reducing Opioid Addiction Rates in Kentucky

S29 E21 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 06/13/22

Mass Shootings and Gun Laws

S29 E20 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/06/22

Discussing the Rise in Gas Prices and Inflation

S29 E19 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/23/22

Previewing Kentucky's 2022 Primary Election

S29 E18 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/16/22

Third Congressional District Democratic Primary

S29 E17 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/09/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part Two

S29 E16 Length 58:33 Premiere Date 05/02/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part One

S29 E15 Length 58:40 Premiere Date 04/25/22

Lawmakers Review the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 04/18/22

Recap of the 2022 Legislative Session

S29 E13 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/11/22

Public Assistance and Jobless Benefits

S29 E12 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/28/22

Abortion Legislation in the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E11 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 03/21/22

State Budget, Taxes, and Other 2022 General Assembly Topics

S29 E10 Length 57:42 Premiere Date 03/14/22

Critical Race Theory and Approaches to Teaching History

S29 E9 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/28/22

2022 Legislative Session at the Midpoint

S29 E8 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/21/22

Name, Image and Likeness Compensation

S29 E7 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/14/22

Child Abuse and Neglect

S29 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/07/22

Debating School Choice in Kentucky

S29 E5 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 02/01/22

Debating Provisions in the Proposed State Budget

S29 E4 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/24/22

Redistricting, State Budget, and Other Legislative Issues

S29 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/10/22

Discussing Legislative Goals for the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E2 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/03/22

Previewing the 2022 Kentucky General Assembly

S29 E1 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 12/06/21

See All Episodes

caret down

TV Schedules

Jump to Recent Airdates

Upcoming

Child Abuse & Neglect

Renee Shaw and guests discuss child abuse and neglect. Scheduled guests: State Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville), Senate Majority Caucus Chair; Shannon Moody, chief officer of strategic initiatives for Kentucky Youth Advocates; Heather Wagers, Office of Trafficking and Abuse Prevention and Prosecution in the Kentucky Attorney General's Office; and Melissa L. Currie, M.D., chief of Norton Children's Pediatric Protection Specialists and professor of pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

  • Tuesday February 7, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 7, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 7, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 7, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 7, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 7, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 8, 2023 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 8, 2023 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 8, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday February 8, 2023 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Wednesday February 8, 2023 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 8, 2023 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 8, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 8, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight

  • Monday February 13, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday February 13, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday February 14, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 14, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 14, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 14, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 14, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 14, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 15, 2023 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 15, 2023 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 15, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday February 15, 2023 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Wednesday February 15, 2023 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 15, 2023 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 15, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 15, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight

  • Monday February 20, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday February 20, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight

  • Monday February 27, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday February 27, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
Jump to Upcoming Airdates

Recent

Child Abuse & Neglect - S30 E1

  • Monday February 6, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday February 6, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET

Medical Marijuana - S29 E47

  • Wednesday February 1, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 1, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 1, 2023 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 1, 2023 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 1, 2023 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 1, 2023 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 1, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday February 1, 2023 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday January 31, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 31, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 31, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 31, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 31, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 31, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 30, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday January 30, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET

Kentucky's Juvenile Justice System - S29 E46

  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday January 24, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 24, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 24, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 24, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 24, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 23, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday January 23, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET

2023 Kentucky General Assembly - S29 E44

  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday January 9, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET
Top

About

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

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to kytonight@ket.org or use the message form on this page. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

After broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on KET.org and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonightwas awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

To purchase a DVD:

Call 1-800-945-9167 or e-mail shop@ket.org.

Contact

Explore KET