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What's at Stake in the 2015 Election?

What's at Stake in the 2015 Election?

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What's at Stake in the 2015 Election?

Guests are Patrick Hughes, chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party; John McCarthy, former chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky; Jennifer Moore, founder of Emerge Kentucky and former chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party; and Ellen Williams, former chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky
S23 E1 Length 56:33 Premiere: 11.2.15

What’s at Stake in the 2015 Election?

So it’s Election Day, and despite all the political ads, debates, and news reports, you’re still not sure which major party candidate for governor should get your vote.

Well, then, you’ve come to the right place.

Representatives from the state Democratic and Republican parties appeared on Monday’s Kentucky Tonight to make their final arguments for why their nominee deserves your support. Here are five takeaways from that conversation.

1. The Insider Versus the Outsider
Do you think the best person to be governor at this point in Kentucky history is someone with significant business credentials but no public sector experience, or someone with more than a decade of government service?

Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Patrick Hughes says Jack Conway’s two terms as attorney general (plus another six years working in the administration of Gov. Paul Patton) have prepared him to lead the commonwealth and navigate the challenges ahead.

“The common theme across all 120 counties is [voters] want a governor that’s going to be familiar with the issues, whether it’s an education issue, a health care issue, or infrastructure issue,” Hughes says.

But Conway’s political tenure also comes with baggage, according to Ellen Williams, the former chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky.

“Voters are sick and tired of career politicians who appeal to specific interest groups,” Williams argues. “They want somebody who’s going to lead without being encumbered by promises they’ve had to make on the campaign [trail].”

Williams says Republican Matt Bevin’s background as a military veteran and businessman will help him bring fresh ideas to governing. Those experiences will also make Bevin a better steward of taxpayer funds, says another former RPK chair, John McCarthy.

“Voters [are] going to decide whether they want to continue down the path that we’ve had in Kentucky or do we want a change,” McCarthy says. “And there’s one thing about Bevin that he’s going to bring, and that’s going to be change.”

But monumental challenges await whoever becomes the next governor, which is why former Democratic party chair Jennifer Moore says Bevin’s inexperience is a liability.

“We do have complicated issues facing our state and we don’t need someone that shoots from the hip, we don’t need someone who won’t answer questions,” Moore says, “and that’s what Matt Bevin has done throughout this campaign.”

2. Health Care
One of those complex policy decisions will be what to do with the health care reforms Gov. Steve Beshear enacted by executive order: the creation of Kynect, the state’s health exchange, and the expansion of Medicaid to include people at 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Some estimates put the state’s tab for Medicaid coverage at $300 million by the year 2020.

KDP’s Moore says Conway has pledged to maintain both Kynect and the Medicaid expansion. She says as more people get insurance, the state’s population will become healthier and more productive, and health care providers will see higher revenues.

Bevin wants a system that requires people to have “skin in the game” by paying a small portion of their coverage fees, says Williams of the RPK. Plus, she says it makes no sense to put able-bodied people on Medicaid. Williams adds that Bevin wouldn’t eliminate any coverage, but he does want to find a better way to pay for it.

3. Public Pensions
The state’s unfunded pension liabilities, which are upwards of some $30 billion, are another potentially budget-busting obligation awaiting the next governor.

John McCarthy of the RPK says Bevin’s experience with investment and pension fund management has prepared him to resolve Kentucky’s retirement system woes. He says the Republican will work with legislators to best determine how more revenues can be allocated to the pension debts.

Bevin has also said the state must move new hires into a defined contribution plan, but Democrats Moore and Hughes say that puts those employees at greater financial risk and it could actually increase the unfunded liabilities in the pension program. They say Conway is committed to making the annual actuarially required contributions to the state plans, and to exploring expanded gaming as a potential dedicated revenue source for the retirement systems.

4. Legislative Relations
Addressing pensions and health care, not to mention all the other issues the candidates tout, ranging from Conway’s early childhood education platform to Bevin’s right to work push, will require approval of the Kentucky House and Senate. So which candidate might be better suited to negotiating deals with lawmakers?

“I think you will see Bevin be party neutral in who he works with as long as it’s about accomplishing goals for the state,” says Williams.

She adds that while Bevin will bring a businessman’s sensibility to governing, he will surround himself with people who have government experience to ensure a successful administration.

Even with those aides to guide Bevin, Hughes doubts the Republican has the proper temperament for legislative deal-making.

“It’s a lot of give and take, it’s a lot of patience, and it’s a lot of willingness to listen,” Hughes says. “None of those things does Matt Bevin have.”

Moore says Conway has experience working in a bipartisan fashion, and is trusted to keep his word. The RPK’s John McCarthy counters by saying the Democrat has a limited record of legislative success to show for his nearly eight years as attorney general.

5. Energizing the Electorate
One thing the party representatives do agree on is that voter turnout will likely be disappointingly low – around 28 percent, by some projections. They blame voter fatigue from last year’s Senate and congressional races as well as the deluge of coverage already coming from the 2016 presidential election. And then there’s the abundance of negative campaign ads from both sides, which tend to dampen voter enthusiasm.

McCarthy says he thinks the elections for statewide office should be held on even-numbered years as a way to increase turnout. Until then he believes voters become engaged when there’s an issue that hits close enough to home.

“What’s going to drive people to the polls is what their individual interests are and where these candidates match up on those,” McCarthy says.

With such stark differences in personalities and policies between Bevin and Conway, Jennifer Moore says this election will have significant ramifications for the commonwealth.

“Voters actually do have a choice this time that will bring major implications to this state, depending on which [candidate] they choose,” Moore says.

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Racial Disparities in K-12 Public Education

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Season 23

U.S. Senate Candidates

S23 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.31.16

6th U.S. Congressional District Candidates

S23 E42 Length 56:53 Premiere Date 10.24.16

Countdown to the Election

S23 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.17.16

Setting Education Policy

S23 E40 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.10.16

Jobs and Wages: Latest Trends

S23 E39 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.2.16

The Race for President

S23 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 9.25.16

Forecasting the U.S. Economy

S23 E37 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 9.19.16

Changes to Kentucky's Medicaid

S23 E36 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 9.12.16

U.S. Foreign Policy Issues

S23 E35 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.29.16

Impact of Campaign Finance Laws

S23 E34 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.22.16

The Electoral College and Politics

S23 E33 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.15.16

The Future of Medicaid in Kentucky

S23 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.1.16

Previewing the 2016 Election

S23 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 7.10.16

Gun Control vs. 2nd Amendment

S23 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.27.16

Debating Immigration Policy

S23 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.20.16

Debate Over Jobs and Wages

S23 E27 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.6.16

Decoding Kentucky's Primary

S23 E25 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 5.23.16

2016 Primary Election Preview

S23 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 5.16.16

Democratic U.S. Senate Primary

S23 E23 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 5.9.16

Republican U.S. Senate Primary Candidate

S23 E22 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.2.16

Republican 1st District Congressional Candidates

S23 E21 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 4.25.16

Democratic 1st District Congressional Candidate

S23 E20 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.18.16

Democratic 6th District Congressional Candidates

S23 E19 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 4.11.16

Republican 6th District Congressional Candidates

S23 E17 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 3.28.16

Republican 3rd Congressional District Candidates

S23 E16 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 3.21.16

2016 General Assembly at Midpoint

S23 E15 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.29.16

Negotiations on State Budget

S23 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.22.16

Crafting New Education Policy

S23 E13 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.15.16

Debating the Minimum Wage

S23 E12 Length 56:31 Premiere Date 2.8.16

Assessing the Governor's Budget

S23 E11 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.1.16

Felony Records Expungement

S23 E10 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.25.16

Right to Work and Prevailing Wage

S23 E9 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.18.16

Charter Schools in Kentucky

S23 E8 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.11.16

Major Issues Await Legislature

S23 E7 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.4.16

Solving the State Pension Crisis

S23 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12.14.15

Preparing for the 2016 General Assembly

S23 E4 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.23.15

Priorities for the State Budget

S23 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.16.15

Election Analysis

S23 E2 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.9.15

What's at Stake in the 2015 Election?

S23 E1 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.2.15

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.

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