News and Music Discovery
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Can A Liberal Democrat Win A Statewide Election In Kentucky?

Wilder for US Senate?, via Facebook

An underdog candidate for U.S. Senate says Kentucky needs to stop slamming regulations of the coal industry, an unusual pitch in Kentucky, even for a Democrat.

Sellus Wilder, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate this year, says his party needs to stop pandering. “We never have honest conversations on the state of the coal industry. Environmental regulation has contributed to the decline of the coal industry, but it’s hardly the most important factor.”

Employment in Kentucky coal mines has dropped precipitously in recent years—down to 8,400 at the end of 2015 from over 19,000 in 2008. Demand for coal has fallen as natural gas has become more prevalent from the fracking boom and coal in Eastern Kentucky is increasingly hard to mine.

Both Kentucky Democrats and Republicans usually embrace the state’s coal culture and attack federal regulations of the signature industry.

In last year’s gubernatorial race, Jack Conway touted his record as attorney general suing the EPA for its power plant carbon regulations.

Wilder has garnered the endorsements of activist group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and philanthropist Christie Lee Brown, who co-hosted a fundraiser for him in Louisville last week.

But he’s facing Lexington mayor Jim Gray and five other candidates in the May 18th primary election. Gray raised over $1.7 million for his campaign this year. Rand Paul is leading a three-way primary on the Republican side.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
Related Content