A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Al Cross: Of course, we agree with Mitch McConnell that we need more ‘civility’ in our public discourse

“Elections have consequences” is a favorite saying for politicians of all stripes, and for those of us who try to make sense of what they say (or don’t say). But elections also have lessons, and those who learn from them are usually the most successful in politics. One of America’s most successful politicians, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, often keeps those lessons to himself, but...

Al Cross: For Andy Beshear, ‘I’m not Matt Bevin’ actually mattered; Bevin now knows words matter too

What seemed like Andy Beshear’s unspoken campaign theme – “I’m not Matt Bevin” – turned out to be sufficient after all, contrary to opinions expressed in this space more than once.                The Democratic attorney general ran a solid, steady campaign that gave voters little to fear – contrary to the alarmist, abusive rhetoric of the governor, which only confirmed the...

Al Cross: The values that drive voters will be the key as Kentuckians prepare to head to the polls Tuesday

Gov. Matt Bevin told The New York Times that Tuesday’s election won’t be close – that he will beat Attorney General Andy Beshear by 6 to 10 percentage points. “I think you’re going to be shocked at how uncompetitive this actually is,” he told reporter Jonathan Martin, who has a knack for getting politicians to say what they think. Bevin may have based his prediction on what happened four...

Al Cross: McConnell cares most about the state Attorney General race, and things are looking up

For Mitch McConnell, things in Kentucky are looking up. In Washington, not so much. The races are close, but the Senate majority leader’s state appears likelier than not to elect Republicans to the state’s top offices Nov. 5. McConnell and Gov. Matt Bevin, former rivals, have learned how to get along and stay out of each other’s way, and a Bevin victory should increase McConnell’s chances of...

Al Cross: Facts are facts and they matter; Matt Bevin has convictions — but it’s fair to ask hard questions

Matt Bevin is a conviction politician; he has beliefs and sticks to them. That’s one thing to like about the governor. But some of his beliefs are mistaken, perhaps even about himself. That was on display Tuesday night at the University of Kentucky, after he and Attorney General Andy Beshear tangled in a televised debate. Afterward, Beshear told reporters that Bevin was “unhinged” in their hour-long...

Al Cross: As political earthquake shakes Washington, how will it tilt Kentucky’s political landscape?

A political earthquake is shaking Washington. How will it tilt Kentucky’s political landscape? The quick and easy answer – and for now, probably the right one – is that the impending impeachment of President Trump will rally his Kentucky supporters and help re-elect unpopular Gov. Matt Bevin. As soon as the Democrat-controlled U.S. House announced its impeachment inquiry, the Kentucky Republican...

Al Cross: Bevin resorting to scare tactics on immigration in ad designed to appeal to Trump’s base

On Sept. 9, Gov. Matt Bevin accused his opponent for re-election, Attorney General Andy Beshear, of using a “scare tactic” by running a TV ad alleging that Bevin’s “education cuts” could leave some communities without schools. Bevin had a point. But a week later, he started an ad of his own that is nothing but a scare tactic – a base, simplistic appeal to fear of immigrants. This, from...

Al Cross: As race for governor heats up, both sides are missing an honest discussion of health care

The race for governor has begun in earnest, with both sides using scare tactics. But both sides also seem scared of saying the wrong thing about the most important issue to voters, health care. Yes, health care. That may have been the most surprising news of the week, in the Prichard Committee’s release of its poll, taken in June. Asked which issue “should be the top priority for your elected officials...

Al Cross: Trump is back-and-forth on gun control; in the end he and McConnell must agree

In Louisville on Wednesday, President Trump said he would get, or help get, Gov. Matt Bevin and Sen. Mitch McConnell re-elected: “We’ll get them both back in.” Bevin was on hand, to bask in the glow of a president who has the approval of most Kentucky voters and whose support he needs to win a second term. McConnell wasn’t around, because he was recovering from surgery six days earlier to repair...

Al Cross: We learned some meaningful things at Fancy Farm; raucous crowd tells us something too

FANCY FARM, Ky. – For all its hoopla, the political speaking at the Fancy Farm Picnic rarely has much effect on statewide elections. But it always provides a unique measurement of the candidates, their campaigns and their prospects, and this year’s version told us some meaningful things about Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and his challenger, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear. The speaking has...

Republicans propose taxing e-cigarettes as health and revenue measure; similar proposal died in 2018

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky would tax electronic cigarettes just like other tobacco products for the first time, under a proposal endorsed by three leading Republican legislators and the state health commissioner Tuesday. Taxing e-cigarettes would discourage their use, especially among children — whose increased use experts call an epidemic — and pregnant women, as well as...

Al Cross: McGrath stumbles, Broihier steps up, others in wings, then there’s Mitch McConnell

The very idea that Kentucky voters would turn out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell next year, given his and their allegiance to President Trump, seems the stuff of fiction. But Amy McGrath made the all-but-impossible look possible in the first day of her Senate campaign last week, setting a first-day record of $2.5 million. McGrath thus raised the prospect that the national following and fund-raising...

Commentary: Public health is where science, politics meet but that doesn’t change need for vaccinations

By F. Douglas Scutchfield and Al Cross Special to KyForward Public health is the nexus of science and politics. Unfortunately, the two frequently do not mix well. A recent example involving childhood immunizations prompts real concern for the erosion of science in the name of politics.  State Sen. Ralph Alvarado, physician and lieutenant governor candidate with Gov. Matt Bevin, recently declared: “I...

Al Cross: Beshear, Bevin, Alvarado finagling with the facts, but everyone wants their own version of truth

People and politicians have always wanted their own versions of the truth, facts and science be damned, but the modern media environment has made it easier to do that – and to fool others into mistaken belief. Witness the Kentucky governor’s race. When Attorney General Andy Beshear, who is the antithesis of nimble, went off-script June 26 and called his Democratic candidacy “an opportunity ....

Al Cross: More questions arise about governor’s race as Bevin continues to dig hole and Beshear advances

When America’s most unpopular governor limped through last month’s four-way Republican primary with 52 percent of the vote, losing 31 counties to an obscure legislator, some of us still thought – and said publicly – that Matt Bevin was still the favorite in the general election. We had plenty of reasons: Kentucky’s encouraging economy; Bevin’s incumbency and personal wealth; the strong...

Al Cross; Now that the governor’s race is down to a grudge match, expect scorched-earth campaign

Kentucky voters delivered two mild surprises in Tuesday’s primaries for governor: Rocky Adkins ran a strong second to Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, and Robert Goforth ran a comparable second to Republican incumbent Matt Bevin. What does that mean for the fall? The performance of Adkins, the state House minority leader, has several threads that relate to the Beshear-Bevin contest. First,...

Al Cross: The primary looms and so do choices; voters may be asking, ‘Who am I most tired of?’

The race for governor of Kentucky is occasionally a harbinger of the contest that begins or ends the four-year election cycle, the race for president. In 1995, Democrat Paul Patton defeated Republican Larry Forgy, who had hoped to ride the GOP wave of 1994 but got caught in the undertow, and Bill Clinton carried the state in 1996. This year, Democrats see the possible ouster of Republican Gov. Matt...

Al Cross: Primary candidates trying to attract voters with largely irrelevant, misleading arguments

If you’re one of the relatively few Kentuckians who will vote in the May 21 primary for statewide constitutional offices, beware. Several candidates are seeking your vote with arguments that are largely irrelevant and sometimes misleading. Irrelevant political pitches are nothing new, but they dominate this month’s TV ads, videos, mail pieces and online chatter in a way we haven’t seen before. That’s...

Al Cross: Welcome, Derby visitors, to Kentucky; here’s a brief introduction to the political landscape

Welcome, Derby visitors! This column continues our longstanding tradition of giving folks who are in Kentucky for the big race, and those looking at Kentucky news media online, a snapshot of our current political landscape. We’re in the middle of a race for the Democratic nomination for governor. It’s our first contested Democratic primary for the office since 2007, an indicator of how the party’s...

Al Cross: Three Democrats for governor make their cases in first contested primary race since 2007

The shape of the May 21 Democratic primary for governor became clearer Wednesday night as the three major candidates held their first debate. Attorney General Andy Beshear’s front-runner status was confirmed by the criticism he got from former state Auditor Adam Edelen, during and after the hour-long encounter. State House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, the taller, older guy standing between the other...