A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Tom Block: Roger Ailes, Fox News changed the landscape of American politics

In my political endeavors, one campaign I worked on was a 1980 Senate race and the media adviser was Roger Ailes. An issue we had to deal with at the time was that all the major media news services were left of center. Our candidate was an unconventional candidate (Al D’Amato) who had won a surprising victory over the establishment candidate in the Republican primary – sound familiar? In 1980...

Tom Block: GOP nomination in hand, question becomes how Trump finds path to White House

With Tuesday’s victory in the Indiana Republican Presidential Primary, Donald Trump appears to be the GOP nominee.  What seemed like a marketing exercise to promote the Trump brand has turned into a successful campaign. While remarks from offensive comments on Mexican immigrants, to smearing Senator John McCain’s war record, seemed campaign ending nothing in fact bothered his core voters....

Commentary: Republicans have a dilemma — and biggest problem is their voters may just stay home

By Tom Block Special to KyForward After the victory by Senator Ted Cruz in Wisconsin and his weekend success in Colorado, it is becoming more apparent that the Republican Presidential nominating process is unlikely to have any one candidate reach the absolute majority of 1,237 delegates. While Donald Trump has a clear lead, Senator Cruz’s recent victories indicates that Trump may not reach the magic...

Tom Block: With Paul out of the Republican Presidential race, where will the libertarians go?

With Rand Paul leaving the Presidential field, and the first votes have been cast in the very competitive Republican race, there seems to be some initial direction. Paul’s departure also opens up Kentucky’s March 5 Republican Caucus. While Sen. Paul never really established himself to the extent his father did, there is a libertarian wing to the Republican Party, and with Paul out of the race...

Tom Block: Governor races won by Schwarzenegger, Ventura may foreshadow Trump outcome

In my last column I discussed the Republican and Democratic races for President, and mentioned that in my view the candidacy of Donald Trump is so unconventional that there are scenarios where he underperforms or outperforms the polls. With only a week before the first votes are cast in the Iowa caucuses, and two weeks before the first real primary in New Hampshire, I’d like to review why I believe...

Tom Block: At this point, the race for the White House appears to favor Democrats, Clinton

With the Iowa caucuses less than a month away I thought I’d review where I see the Presidential election and important dates to focus on. Republicans February 1: Iowa Caucuses February 9: New Hampshire primary February 20: South Carolina primary February 23: Nevada caucuses March 1: First big primary day, 11 states mainly in the south including Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Virginia. March...

Tom Block: With control of the White House vital to GOP interests, solid favorite has yet to emerge

With the last major political event of 2015, the Las Vegas Republican debate behind us, it is a good time to take a look at the 2016 elections and why they are so important. As President Obama’s term comes to an end the Democrats have controlled the White House for 16 of the last 24 years. Democratic control of the White House has been a key tool for the Democratic Party to forestall total Republican...

Tom Block: Paul Ryan, a true conservative who wants to govern, would be a good speaker

In my previous column, I wrote on the Republican conundrum of trying to put together a governing coalition within their own caucus after the far right forced John Boehner to give up his position as speaker. Then in a further victory for the far right wing of the House Republican caucus, they forced Boehner’s deputy, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, out of the race to be the new speaker.   Paul Ryan Now...

Tom Block: With Boehner resignation, GOP faced with yet another conundrum

The resignation of House Republican Speaker John Boehner is the most recent example of the conundrum facing Congressional Republicans – how to govern with deep divisions. In fact, divisions within the two Congressional parties have switched over the past 25 years.   Previously, the deep partisan divide was within the Democratic Party where Southern Democrats were more conservative than Eastern...

Tom Block: Trade pacts are more difficult to move through Congress; TPP is no exception

In Kentucky our economy is growing in large part because of the state’s commitment to international trade.   The state has developed a very close relationship with Japan best demonstrated by the Toyota plant in Georgetown and the recent purchase of Jim Beam Brands by Suntory, a large Japanese distilled spirits company.   While it didn’t get that much press, last Wednesday was an important...

Tom Block: Tough decisions ahead with next act to be played out when Congress returns

Before leaving for their two-week spring break, the House and Senate each passed their own versions of a budget resolution. A big reason for the push is that Republicans believe that to fulfill the mandate they got in the 2014 elections they must approve a budget that reaches balance in 10 years, and both the House and Senate budgets, at least on paper, achieve that goal.   Now that both chambers...

Tom Block: Worrisome start for Congress, as Republicans deal with mess of own making

Kentucky’s senior senator again finds himself in the middle of a firestorm as the Congress is faced with funding the Department of Homeland Security for the remaining of the current fiscal year.   Sen. McConnell started his tenure as majority leader promising to avoid the chaos of government shutdowns.   Originally the deadline for action on DHS funding was last Friday, Feb. 27, but efforts...

Tom Block: It's a new year, a new Congress and a new set of deadlines in nation's capital

It will be a big year for Kentucky in D.C., with our senior senator, Mitch McConnell, becoming majority leader and junior senator, Rand Paul, in the presidential spotlight. In addition Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers will continue as chair of the House Appropriations Committee as it develops the budgets for each department of the U.S. government.   The new year and the new Congress, will face...

Tom Block: An updated election forecast shows control of the Senate not a done deal

With less than a week before the important midterm election, I wanted to update my forecast.   Two weeks ago, I thought the odds favored a very narrow Democratic victory in the battle for control of the Senate. I saw a 50/50 tie with Vice President Joe Biden voting to break the tie in favor of the Democrats.   However, over the last two weeks it appears that some of the closest races have...

Tom Block: Fight for control of U.S. Senateis still too close to call, but may end in a tie

Here is my analysis of how the battle for control in the U.S. Senate is shaping up. Starting with the current count of 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans, there are three Democratic seats – Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota – where all the polls and political pundits agree the Republicans will win, bringing the line-up to 52 Democrats and 48 Republicans.       The Republicans...

Tom Block: Focus on control of Senate shifting to a surprising race in Kansas

With the November election set to determine whether Democrats will retain control of the Senate or Republicans can gain control, Kentucky has one of the key races that will determine the outcome.   Furthermore, the race in the Commonwealth is getting extra scrutiny because Sen. Mitch McConnell is positioned to be the Senate majority leader if Republicans gain control. Not only are the candidates,...

Tom Block: Congress' return to Washington forces budget, foreign affairs issues to fore

This week Congress returns to Washington after its five-week recess and has three weeks to pass a spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Everything Congress does in the next few weeks will have the November election not far from mind and influencing every action.   There will also be much debate on foreign affairs as Congress and the president look for a united course of action...

Tom Block: House and Senate approved short-term funding of Highway Trust Fund

Earlier this summer I wrote of the challenge faced by Kentucky and the nation with the impending shortfall of the Highway Trust Fund and the potential for stopping of work on large road projects across the Commonwealth and the nation. The pressure was on as Congress needed to take action before they left D.C. for their annual August break.   Good new – last week, before heading home for...

Tom Block: In the 2014 race to control the Senate, two seats are likely to change

The focus of the political world during the midterm elections will be on which party ends up controlling the U.S. Senate. As I have written, the Republicans need a net gain of six seats to win over control of the Senate and make Kentucky’s senior senator, Mitch McConnell, the majority leader.     Make no mistake, it is really important to be majority leader, and with the majority control...

Tom Block: Fund for highway infrastructure almost broke; something needs to be done

This is the Pikeville Cut-Through created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nearly 30 years ago. One of the largest civil engineering projects in the Western Hemisphere, it required moving nearly 18 million cubic yards of soil and rock. Passing through it are a four-lane divided highway, a railroad line and the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)   Any drivers...