A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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...

Al Cross: Slow pace so far for the primary and those seeking to be governor; we need to know more

In little more than five weeks, Kentuckians will go to the polls to begin the process of electing their next governor, or giving the current one four more years. But the race has seemed to have a slow pace. That’s partly because there are fewer journalists to cover it, leaving the candidates’ media messages largely unfiltered and unquestioned. But if you look closely, their first television commercials...

Amye Bensenhaver: How to succeed in open records by refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer

Al Cross, director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, has succeeded where other open records disputants often fail. He did this by simply refusing to take “no” for an answer. Cross is no stranger to the open records law, and his reputation for tenacity no doubt precedes him. On March 20, Cross submitted a request to the Kentucky Horse Racing...

Al Cross: Gov. Bevin is reckless to disregard the science on chickenpox; public health matters

When Gov. Matt Bevin volunteered to a Southern Kentucky radio audience March 19 that he had exposed his nine children to chickenpox, and questioned the need for vaccinations and laws requiring them, it was more than the latest example of him being reckless with his mouth. It was a new low in public officials’ willful ignorance or disregard of science, an alarming trend that is taking us to new highs...

Al Cross: As General Assembly ends, it did not — in most big ways — act in the public interest

FRANKFORT – With almost all its work done, has the current session of the Kentucky General Assembly acted in the public interest? In many small ways, yes. But in most big ways, no. And, of course, it depends on how you define “public interest.” For example, what some see as needed competition for failing public schools, and more opportunity for students, is seen by others as a drain on schools...

Ban on tobacco in schools still alive; may pass House with measure raising to 21 legal age to buy

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News With just three days left to pass bills, lawmakers in the state House are still working on measures that would protect Kentucky’s youth from tobacco and electronic cigarettes, efforts that health advocates have said could stop nearly one in three Kentucky students from ever smoking. David Osborne A bill to ban the use of tobacco at all public...