2019 election

If you follow politics, you're probably inundated by news of the 2020 presidential race by now. But did you know that 2019 is an election year too? This month, five states will hold big general elections.

Voters in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia will elect either a whole slew of state lawmakers or a governor and other statewide executives. Or, in the case of Louisiana and Mississippi, all of the above.


It's the last edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled before Kentuckians go to the polls on Nov. 5.

In this week's episode: the major party candidates for governor participated in two debates, and now Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear are crisscrossing the state making their final pitches to voters.

Also, the Kentucky Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit against a Lexington T-shirt maker that refused to create shirts for a gay pride festival.

Jonese Franklin from member station WFPL talked to capitol reporter Ryland Barton for this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.

Lisa Autry

“Remember in November” became the rallying cry this year among many Kentucky teachers, highlighting their deep rift with Governor Matt Bevin over pension reform and education proposals. A number of those teachers have been stepping up their activism to help elect Bevin’s Democratic challenger, Andy Beshear, on Nov. 5

Chris McCoy is one of them. He's been on a mission to make Matt Bevin a one-term governor, knocking on doors since July for Gov. Bevin’s Democratic challenger, Andy Beshear.

“I’ve been in the education field for 15 years and I’ve never seen teachers get this excited over an election," McCoy told WKU Public Radio.

Courtesy of Robert Conway

On November 5, Kentuckians will head to the polls to elect constitutional positions like Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State.

Eigth-generation Kentucky farmer Robert Conway is running for Agriculture Commissioner

Focal points for the Scott County Democrat include saving the state's family farms, and encouraging more young people to pick up the trade.

J. Tyler Franklin

Much of the coverage of the Andy Beshear v. Matt Bevin governor’s race, mine included, assumes we are covering a fairly traditional contest in American politics. And that is true in a lot of ways. The teacher unions are allied with the Democrat, business groups with the Republican. The Democrat is emphasizing issues like education and health care, the Republican is emphasizing his opposition to abortion and illegal immigration. 

I’m fairly certain that model of coverage rightly applies to Andy Beshear, a fairly conventional Democrat who is essentially pledging to govern like his father, who was a fairly conventional Democratic governor. I’m not sure that model applies to Matt Bevin.

J. Tyler Franklin

Before a packed crowd at Northern Kentucky University Tuesday night, Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear capped off a series of five televised debates, making their final pitches ahead of next week’s election.

During the debate that aired on WLWT, both candidates said they would make it a priority to address the crumbling Brent-Spence Bridge that connects Covington to Cincinnati.


Ryland Barton

The secretary of state is Kentucky’s top election official, maintains business filings and trademarks and oversees the Land Office, which keeps property records dating back to before Kentucky became a state in 1792.

Current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, is term-limited and cannot seek reelection. Grimes’ office has been in turmoil over the past year, after a staffer on the State Board of Elections accused her of improperly accessing voter registration data, and the legislature stripped some of her powers. At one point she had considered running for governor.

Lisa Autry

Recent polling suggests the race for Kentucky governor between incumbent Republican Matt Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear is a toss-up. Both campaigns are stepping up their ground game one week from election day.

On a Saturday morning in October, a group of Warren County residents assembled in the old Pushin Building in downtown Bowling Green.

“Thank you all for coming," said Cody Pruitt, a Regional Field Director for the state's Democrats. "If this is your first time coming, this is the field office for the Kentucky Democratic Party and Andy Beshear.”

Over coffee and doughnuts, Pruitt rallied the troops before they fanned out across Warren County for some old-fashioned door knocking. Their goal: persuade voters to turn out for Democratic candidates on Nov. 5.

Adrian Cable/WikimediaCommons

Kentucky is one of 12 states that holds elections for agriculture commissioner, which facilitates and promotes the state’s $5.9 billion agriculture industry that has more than 75,000 workers.

Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture in many ways is a marketer and advocate for the various agricultural organizations and associations in the state. The department also helps farmers and businesses grow various crops, monitors the needs and health of agriculture in the state, regulates hemp growing licenses and even inspects 60,000 gas pumps across the state.

Ryland Barton

Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear squared off in another gubernatorial debate Monday night, one of the last opportunities for voters to see the candidates make their cases before Election Day.

Bevin and Beshear bickered their way through the debate on KET, while moderator Renee Shaw repeatedly brought them back to substantive policy issues like how to raise more money for the state, how to address the state’s pension debt and whether to keep the state’s Medicaid expansion.



Kentucky’s governor is the most powerful official in state government. The governor is in charge of managing the agencies that make up the various components of state government like health care, corrections, education and transportation.

The governor also plays an important role in crafting the state’s laws and spending plan, sometimes crafting bills and budgets for the legislature to consider or advocating for new laws. Once a bill passes out of the legislature, the governor can sign it into law or veto it in its entirety, or even veto just parts of the bill.


Kentucky’s state treasurer is in charge of Kentucky’s money and making sure state spending is legal and constitutional.

While candidates running for treasurer race run on a political party ticket, the job was created to serve as a watchdog over taxpayer dollars, no matter the political party in the legislature or who’s in the Governor’s mansion. They serve four-year terms, and can be elected twice.

The treasurer also sits on several state boards, such as the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, the Lottery Board and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. The office is also in charge of state unclaimed property, such as rental deposits, old life insurance policies, stocks or paychecks that weren’t returned to Kentuckians.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear participated in another televised debate Saturday night ahead of the Nov. 5 gubernatorial election.

Bevin and Beshear once again illustrated their sharp differences on issues like abortion, health care, taxes, and whether to legalize casino gambling to try and bring in more revenue for the state.

At one point Beshear criticized Bevin for making inflammatory statements like his claim from over the summer that casino gambling leads to suicide.

Bevin denied ever making the comment.


J. Tyler Franklin

The Auditor of Public Accounts plays an important role in Kentucky government as an independent office tasked with reviewing accounts, financial transactions and the performance of all state government — making sure books are balanced in state agencies from local sheriff’s offices to the Department of Education.

Although the auditor’s race is a partisan election, the position itself is designed to serve as an independent check on state government regardless of the candidate’s political affiliation. Auditors must hold a bachelor’s degree and have at least 20 hours experience in accounting. They serve four year terms.


This week in Kentucky politics, Gov. Matt Bevin said he’ll re-open a prison to help deal with the state’s booming prison population.

President Trump announced he’ll visit Lexington the night before Election Day.

And Attorney General Andy Beshear says he’ll restore voting rights to some people with felony convictions if he’s elected. We talk about it all, this week on Kentucky Politics Distilled.