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Kentucky Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate: What Are Progressives To Do?

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Those outside of Kentucky are already betting heavily on Amy McGrath as the Democratic nominee to take on Moscow Mitch in 2020.  However, Kentucky progressives are not happy with McGrath, and I one of those people.  Before all you centrists jump down my throat and give me shit, I will say for the umpteenth time that I will support whoever becomes the Democratic nominee.  But McGrath’s early blunders and her campaign message/strategy open her to criticism as a weak candidate who will ensure another electoral victory for Moscow Mitch.  This has lead to progressives looking at the other declared candidates to see how they stack up.

For those not on the up and up on Kentucky politics, I will try to summarize what has been going on lately, especially with regards to McGrath.  Yes, Kentucky has always been a politically conservative state, and it is only on a good day that we have elected moderates to federal office.  The only exception I can think of is Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3rd) who is a progressive.  I can’t recall any Democratic nominee for governor or U.S. Senate who has run as a progressive in KY.  The last Democratic Senator was Wendell Ford who was a moderate to conservative Democrat, and he left office in 1999.

Since that time, there has been a long list of centrist Democratic roadkill for U.S. Senate in KY.

Anyway, I was excited when Amy McGrath jumped into running against Republican Congressman Andy Barr in the 6th in 2018.  McGrath made it a race, and she came off as authentic.  And initially I thought she would make a good candidate for U.S. Senate.

Unfortunately, McGrath’s roll out was terrible.  McGrath has decided that criticizing Trump is political suicide in KY, so she has been pushing this message that, well, I will let you read it for yourself:

McConnell, she said, has prevented President Donald Trump from accomplishing much of his agenda during his first two and a half years in office.

“If you think about why Kentuckians voted for Trump, they wanted to drain the swamp, and Trump said that he was going to do that,” McGrath said during the announcement of her candidacy on MSNBC's Morning Joe. “Trump promised to bring back jobs. He promised to lower drug prices for so many Kentuckians. And that is very important.”…

“And you know what? Who stops them along the way? Who stops the president from doing these things? Mitch McConnell,” she continued on MSNBC. “And I think that that’s very important, and that’s going to be my message – the things that Kentuckians voted for Trump for are not being done. He’s not able to get it done because of Senator McConnell.”

Now, there were some on Daily Kos and the national Media who thought this was some kind of genius move by Amy McGrath.  Trump is still popular in Kentucky, so why not just zero in on Mr. Unpopular Moscow Mitch?  McGrath has still been pushing that she will work with Trump to pass those things she agrees with him on (she did this just last week).   This has earned her the label as a “Trump Democrat.”

To make matters even worse, McGrath said she would have voted for Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.  Then, when she receieved justifiable shit over this statement, McGrath changed course.  Her opening campaign statement and flip flop over Brett Kavanaugh punctured McGrath’s authenticity.

Also, their is a huge cognitive dissonance in McGrath’s campaign strategy of being a Trump Democrat.  Before the latest Ukraine Scandal, Trump was and still is considered to be an existential threat to black Democrats and other minorities, and this cuts across the ideological spectrum of minority voters.  For progressives, Trump has always been anathema.  While progressives and minority voters do not make up the bulk of Kentucky voters, a Democrat running statewide needs those votes in order to win — look at Beshear’s recent victory over the odious Matt Bevin.

Beshear avoided trying to make the race national, while Bevin did his best to tie himself to Trump.  This didn’t work out for Bevin.  The urban areas and suburbs came out for Beshear and just managed to defeat the rural voters who have gone Republican.  This is where McGrath has to win votes in order to defeat Moscow Mitch.  

But how the hell is McGrath going to do that by being a Trump Democrat?

Progressives and minority voters KNOW that Trump is a pathological liar who never had any attention of delivering on promises of better jobs, lower prescription drug prices, and draining the swamp.  Trump has had plenty of time to enact those things, and it has not happened.  In fact, Trump has filled the swamp with mutant giant alligators that are eating away at our democracy.  Calls to work with Trump on those part of his agenda just ring hollow.  

The only conclusion I can come to is that McGrath expects progressives like myself to swallow her Trump Democrat talking points as a means to an end.  It’s meant to fool the rubes in KY and get their votes against Moscow Mitch.  Just sit tight progressives and minority voters and accept the BS, and once Trump is gone, Senator McGrath will work on an agenda that is more appealing to you all.

It doesn’t work that way.

Anyway, progressives do have two candidates already in this race:  Mike Broihier and Steve Cox.

With regards to Broihier, I will quote from Meet Mike page:

Mike Broihier is a farmer and educator, former small-town newspaper editor and a former Marine officer. Mike led Marines and sailors in wartime and peace, ashore and afloat, for over 20-years. In 2005, Mike retired from the Marine Corps. He and his wife, Lynn, also a retired Marine officer, bought a 75-acre farm in the rolling hills of south-central Kentucky in Lincoln County, to put down roots, to work the land and be a part of a community.

For the past 14 years, Mike and Lynn have lived and worked on their farm outside Stanford, KY. They’ve raised grass-fed beef and pastured poultry, pigs and sheep. They also established the largest all-natural asparagus operation in central Kentucky, supplying farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants in the Lexington area.

In addition to farming, Mike worked for five years as a reporter and editor for the third oldest newspaper in Kentucky, a local weekly paper. He has reported on just about every aspect of rural life, from fiscal court meetings to elementary school awards ceremonies, from rural economic challenges to county government controversies. As a part of his community, he’s seen the highs and lows, the happy and sad. Each story has become a part of him and shaped his views and understanding of Kentucky.

To be honest, I like his life story.  He’s been living and working in a rural community for 14 years.  And like Amy McGrath, he is a former Marine.  Many have pointed out that Democrats do not know how to talk to rural voters, and I think they are correct.  Might help to have a man who is a farmer to talk with rural voters.  It certainly can’t hurt.

And here is a link to Broihier’s issues page.  I have taken a look, and I urge anyone reading this diary to do so.  Broihier is open to Medicare for All, but he thinks a public option is politically less disruptive.  However, if the ACA is struck down by the SCOTUS, he says that Medicare for All will be necessary.  As for the Green New Deal, he doesn’t either sign on or attack it, but his stance on global climate change indicates that he is for switching to renewables:

As we address climate change, we must make a sustained investment in large scale programs that puts people to work repairing crumbling infrastructure, fix inefficient and unaffordable utilities with innovative and sustainable methods and restore biodiversity to help make our communities more resilient against changing weather. These sustained investments MUST include rural communities in the coalfields of Appalachia and west Kentucky that fueled America’s growth but have been left behind as the nation transitions away from coal. It MUST include communities of color who have faced systemic discrimination for generations. And it MUST include our farmers that face uncertainty in weather and trade as politicians refuse to acknowledge the truth of climate change and the importance of a global market.

We can retrain displaced workers and put people to work in good jobs that enrich and move our people and communities forward by investing in frontline communities that have borne the environmental burden of America’s progress as profits were realized by others. We can make our homes healthier and more energy efficient to stop the astronomical bills. We can lead on innovations to our electrical grid and renewable energy sources by building upon our manufacturing and research capabilities. We can clean up forgotten industrial and mining sites to improve water, soil and air quality for healthier communities.

Sounds reasonable to me.  It might not be as specific in the details as other candidates who support the Green New Deal, but this is Kentucky we are talking about.  Just that bit he mentioned makes him to the LEFT of just about every Kentucky politician who abase themselves to the dying coal industry.  And that is a bipartisan in Kentucky.  

Steve Cox is a native Kentuckian and works in the healthcare industry.  Here is his background information:

Steve was born in Greenville, Kentucky on the 24th day of January 1986. He is the youngest of four children, brother to three older sisters.

Growing up in the hollows of the Midland-Gishton area of Bremen, Kentucky, Steve became interested in the natural beauty of the world around him at an early age. He was a curious child when it came to all things small, such as insects and other small critters that kids discover when exploring the outdoors. There is a funny family story about how he learned to swim by watching frogs.

Steve grew up as the technology industry was on the rise, fueling his curiosity about computers and electronics. He developed an equal love of nature and machine which fueled his curiosity and dreams about life and the future.

He attended Bremen Elementary, Muhlenberg North Middle, North Drive Middle, and Muhlenberg North High School. His first job was as a dishwasher and bus boy at Pizza Hut in Central City, Kentucky at the age of 16. After high school, Steven immediately joined the work force. He worked for over 3 years as an overnight stocker for Walmart in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Seeking new career opportunities, Steve Cox became a life and health insurance agent for a couple of years, but was not happy as a salesperson. He loves helping people, but sales was more about helping yourself than helping others.

Working in a retail pharmacy environment gave Steve the opportunity to help people in a more meaningful way. Through hard work and dedication, he received six promotions over the course of his work in retail pharmacy, evolving Steve’s work into a leadership and mentoring role for other team members.

Steve became a fully licensed RPhT and earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Homeland Security and Emergency Management, all while working 40+ hours a week and helping raise his son, Isaak.

I have never been to Muhlenberg County, but I have been told there ain’t shit there except old coal mines.  And I have been to Madisonville, another community that was dependent upon the coal industry.  There is little to no opportunity in Madisonville, or so a friend of mine from there tells me.  It’s why she left Madisonville to move to Louisville to find work.

Anyway, Cox is definitely for Medicare for All.  Cox has not addressed his stance on global change though, at least according to his issues page.  He will need to address this issue, even if it is Kentucky.  

If any other progressives jump into the race, I will be looking at them as well.  I want other progressives on Daily Kos to have some information on the progressive candidates who have the courage to step up and take on the most evil politician that Kentucky has ever produced.  It will be more than an uphill battle.  It will be like scaling a sheer cliff while under intensive gunfire from an entrenched enemy occupying the high ground.  But I will be giving my vote and what little money I can spare to one of the two progressives in the race right now.  

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