Former KY Auditor Adam Edelen, 2019 candidate for KY governor
(Murray KY April 6, 2019) - Candidate Adam Edelen was on Murray State's campus this sunny Saturday afternoon for a "Politics and Pizza" campaign stop. Stacked boxes of pizza and bottled water greeted those who came out to hear Edelen in Faculty Hall on the MSU campus.
The crowd was divided along age lines with a third college students, a third out of school adults and a third retirees. Edelen knew several there, greeting them by name and working them into his remarks.
Speaking without notes, Edelen spoke for twenty five minutes on issues dear to the hearts of progressives, students and environmental activists.Then he took lots of questions from those in attendance.
Like his opponents in the Democratic primary, Rep. Rocky Adkins and Attorney General Andy Beshear, (Geoff Young is also running as he has for other offices in other years), Edelen emphasized that jobs, jobs, jobs are key to Kentucky's future. He has worked for several years on a solar power project ten miles from Pikeville, on the eastern edge of the Commonwealth. The project is unique in the partnership with a coal company that owns the land. Edelen projects between 100 and 150 local jobs will be created.
"Once built, the solar farm should produce 100 megawatts of power, enough juice for about 18,000 homes." according to a story on CNet.com "Harnessing the sun in coal country"
The plan is to break ground sometime in 2019. The point of pride for Edelen is that the solar farm will be visible from space. It will be proof that Kentucky is moving past coal to new forms of energy.
Senate Bill 100, passed in the 2019 session and signed by Governor Bevin is widely seen as anti renewable energy. The bill limits what homeowners with solar can expect to be paid by utility companies for the energy they contribute to the grid. Edelen said that he will appoint a more consumer friendly public service commission and work to overturn the law.
Kentucky is far behind the rest of the country in high speed internet access. Edelen compares digitalization defined as "the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business" to electrification under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the interstate highway system of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Don't believe that high speed internet is important? Edelen has an example to prove his point.
"Go to any McDonald's and watch people there." Edelen said "it's the most reliable supplier of 21st century wifi."
The former state auditor didn't name his primary opponents, though he did say that you can expect the same old names to lead change. One of his opponents, Adkins, is a twenty year plus member of the Kentucky Legislature. His other opponent, Andy Beshear, is the son of the last Democratic governor, Steve Beshear.
Edelen wasn't reluctant to slam Republican Governor Matt Bevin, calling him the "worst governor in the history of the state."
In a Q & A session, audience members asked how he would work with the super majority in the legislature. Edelen pointed to his partnering with now Congressman Jamie Comer in the investigation into and eventual jailing of former Commissioner of Agriculture Richie Farmer for misuse of government resources. He brought to attention 3000 untested rape kits and worked with Republicans to fund testing.
One question had to do with the drug epidemic. Edelen called it a "public health emergency" and said it is essential that those seeking treatment have health insurance. He said that for every 17 addicts, Kentucky only has one available bed. Without insurance, getting clean is almost impossible. He said Governor Bevin's attack on Medicaid will lead to 100,000 to lose access to health care.
Murray and Calloway County continue to battle with county government over expansion of the library. Edelen was asked where he stood on funding. He said as auditor, he looked at special taxing districts (which library boards are). He said that the boards have for years complied with the law and revamping faltering taxing programs was based on the 106 properly functioning library boards. The crowd took that to be the answer they were looking for. He's with them on library expansion.
Educators were in attendance and vocal in their displeasure with those in Frankfort.
One man, Chad, identified himself as a science teacher. He told Edelen that he has $1.01 for each of his students in his budget for supplies for the rest of the school year. That money will have to stretch to cover paper and experiment supplies. Chad told the candidate he felt ignored by the present administration. Decisions on pensions and staffing were made without teacher input. Chad asked if as governor Edelen would consult teachers on education issues. Edelen said he would.
For union members, another constituency disgruntled by the present administration, Edelen offered that he will work to repeal prevailing wage and right to work legislation. He told the crowd not to believe that right to work can't be repealed. Voters in West Virginia voted to do just that.
At right, MSU history professor Dr. Brian Clardy and candidate Edelen renew their acquaintance.
After the meeting, we asked Edelen about how he planned to turn out his voters. He said the Murray State event was just the most recent in a string of public events. He cited an appearance in Owensboro that brought out fifty participants but was viewed 3500 times online. Edelen said that after he is elected, he is interested in having regional governor's offices to bring government out into the state.
We asked about college tuition and how it can be controlled. Edelen said that higher tuition is a tax. The state tax code is full of exemptions and needs serious reforms. When that happens, Edelen is confident that there will be enough money to assist colleges.
After the meeting, Edelen was asked what happened to the New Kentucky Project, an effort by Edelen and Kentucky Sports Radio personality Matt Jones. Edelen and Jones bring New Kentucky Project roadshow to Paducah, August 2017
The Project was designed to spur interest in politics across the state. Edelen said that it was a "very expensive" undertaking. Edelen moved on to Edelen Ventures, the solar panel farm and Jones went back to radio sports casting.
With Edelen running for office, the groundwork laid in New Kentucky Project created a cadre of volunteers in his governor's campaign. He told us that while college will be out for the summer on May 21st there will continue to be outreach to students.
With only 1 in 10 Democrats likely to vote on May 21st, every millennium that gets to the polls that day will have an outsized effect on the outcome.