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Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part Two

Renee Shaw talks with qualifying candidates in the 2022 Primary Election. Scheduled guests: Charles Booker, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate; E. Lee Watts, 2nd District Republican Congressional candidate; and Claire Wirth, 4th District Republican Congressional candidate.
Season 29 Episode 16 Length 58:33 Premiere: 05/02/22


Kentucky Tonight

KET’s Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, brings together an expert panel for in-depth analysis on major issues facing the Commonwealth.

This weekly program features comprehensive discussions with lawmakers, stakeholders and policy leaders that are moderated by award-winning journalist Renee Shaw. Often aired live, viewers are encouraged to participate by submitting questions real-time via email, Twitter or KET’s online form.
For nearly three decades, Kentucky Tonight has been a source for complete and balanced coverage of the most urgent and important public affairs developments in the state of Kentucky.

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to or use the contact form. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

After broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonight was awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

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Renee Shaw is Moderator and Director of Public Affairs for Kentucky Educational Television, currently serving as host of KET’s Kentucky Tonight, Connections, election coverage, Legislative Update and KET Forums.

Since joining KET in 1997, Shaw has produced numerous KET public affairs series and specials, including KET’s nationally recognized legislative coverage. Under her leadership, KET has expanded its portfolio of public affairs content to include Kentucky Supreme Court coverage, town hall-style forums, and multi-platform program initiatives around issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health.  

As an award-winning journalist, Shaw has earned top awards from the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, earning two regional Emmy awards, and an award from the Kentucky Associated Press for political coverage of the state legislature. She was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2017. She has been honored by the AKA Beta Gamma Omega Chapter with a Coretta Scott King Spirit of Ivy Award; earned the state media award from the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2019; named a Charles W. Anderson Laureate by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2019 honoring her significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues; earned the Anthony Lewis Media Award from the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy for her work on criminal justice reform in 2014; and, in 2015, received the Green Dot Award for her coverage of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.  

In 2018, KET earned a national media award from Mental Health America for its multi-dimensional content on the opioid epidemic shepherded by Shaw. That same year, she co-produced and moderated a six-part series on youth mental health that was awarded first place in educational content by NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association. In 2019, Shaw was recognized by The Kentucky Gazette as one of the 50 most notable women in Kentucky politics and government. In addition, Renee was awarded the Charles W. Anderson Laureate Award by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues.

Host Renee Shaw smiling in a green dress with a KET set behind her.

Senate Candidate and Congressional Candidates from 2nd and 4th Districts Discuss the Issues

Charles Booker, Democrat for U.S. Senate

Charles Booker is a native of West Louisville and a graduate of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. He was director of administrative services for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in the Steve Beshear Administration. He served in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 2019 to 2021, and was a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020. Booker is one of four Democrats running to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

“My focus in this campaign is really about how do we end poverty,” says Booker. “I want us to invest in people for a change and invest in our infrastructure in a way that can make sure that no matter where you are in this commonwealth you have a pathway to prosperity.”

Booker says he understands the fears and frustrations that many Kentuckians have because he grew up in poverty, experienced homelessness, and had to ration the insulin he needs for his diabetes because he couldn’t always afford it. He says his personal story, his desire to change the status quo in politics, and his willingness to work across party lines has attracted the support of people who voted for former President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump spoke to some realities we that cannot ignore,” says Booker. “Now when he said he was going to make it better, he was exploiting fears, he was weaponizing pain, he never intended to be a part of the solution.”

The Democrat says he wants to create Kentucky New Deal that would include Medicare for all, universal pre-kindergarten, infrastructure improvements, and a universal basic income of about $2,000 a month.

“Right now, we have an economy that is built on our backs, but the profits go to these big corporations that have been continuously exploiting and robbing us,” Booker says. “We need an equity stake in the economy that we’ve built, not regressive taxes.”

Booker also supports reparations for the descendants of enslaved African Americans. He says the nation’s leaders must be willing to address the lingering economic impacts of slavery and racism just like they were willing to provide Master Settlement Agreement funds to struggling Kentucky tobacco farmers.

“I believe that the government we pay for has an obligation to make sure that we can all live a gainful life,” he says. “When injustices have happened at the hand of the government, we need leaders who will make sure to provide remedies and restitution.”

In addition to stoking racial division, Booker says Republican leaders have used abortion as a wedge issue for partisan gain instead of seeing it as a medically necessary health care procedure that people should be able to access. He says the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade should be codified into law so that the rights of women can be protected.

“I understand that this is an issue that can drive a lot of people apart,” he says. “But… we should not have politicians or government in the bedroom trying to mandate pregnancy or force Kentuckians to make these deeply personal and oftentimes life-threatening decisions.”

On crime and public safety, Booker says he supports law enforcement and first responders, but he says that police departments cannot continue to grow ever-more militarized.

“We cannot arrest our way to a safer society,” he says. “We cannot ask police to be all things community safety. We have to do the work.”

A better approach, according to Booker, is to invest in ending poverty, building thriving local economies, and safety programs that engage neighborhoods and communities.

“This is not about party for me, this is about doing the work,” says Booker. “Even in the times of heightened division and dysfunction, we can still build coalitions because our common bonds are so much greater that what drives us apart.”

Lee Watts, 2nd Congressional District Republican

Lee Watts is a Bowling Green native and a U.S. Air Force veteran who served a combat tour in Iraq. He was volunteer chaplain at the Kentucky Capitol for 13 years, has taught about constitutional rights, and organized a 2020 protest against COVID restrictions ordered by Gov. Andy Beshear. Watts is challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie.

“I am very against this out-of-control spending, this increase in taxation,” says Watts. “I like the conservative principals of less taxation and less government.”

Watts says his time in Frankfort along with his knowledge of constitutional principles has provided him with ample experience about the legislative process. The Republican says his top priorities are to oppose abortion, protect Second Amendment rights, and defend individual medical liberties. He says no tax dollars should go to abortions or Planned Parenthood and he contends much of the nation’s COVID-19 response had nothing to do with science or public health.

“I think a lot of what we have seen through COVID has been driven not by the virus… because different big companies such as big pharma are trying to make a lot of money off of the process,” he says. “If someone chooses to get a vaccine, they should feel free, but if they choose not to get one, I don’t think they should be forced, coerced, or pressured to do so.”

On gun rights, Watts says he opposes so-called red flag laws that allow police and/or family members to petition the courts to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of an individual who could do harm to themselves or others. He contends that violates the rights of someone who has committed no crime. He says the only people who should be denied a firearm are convicted felons or those deemed legally incompetent.

“If we ever lose our Second Amendment rights, then I believe all of our First Amendment rights will quickly leave as well,” says the Republican.

Regarding security along the U.S.-Mexico border, Watts says the nation should complete the wall started by former President Donald Trump. He says he supports legal immigration, but contends the nation now faces an invasion along its southern border which must be stopped.

Election security is another priority for Watts. He says he does not believe that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. He also says the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the work of Antifa and other far left groups, not Trump supporters who he says were being waved into the building by law enforcement.

“I think the coup to take over America took place in the wee hours of election night,” says Watts.

Watts says deficit spending is a major problem for the country and that the U.S. spends too much on foreign aid. He argues those funds should be kept at home to address infrastructure, high-speed internet access, and other critical needs. But the Republican also says President Joe Biden should do more to help Ukraine fend off the recent invasion by Russian forces. He supports sending arms and supplies to the Ukrainians, but he stops short of calling for no-fly zone or sending American forces to the conflict.

“I would not deploy U.S. troops in a place where we do not have any interest,” says Watts. “If there’s not a direct interest to the United States, we should stay out of these foreign wars.”

While he says Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for the war, Watts says President Biden is partly to blame for the conflict because of what Watts describes as the “disastrous” withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2021.

“I think that is one of the reasons that it emboldened Putin to actually invade Ukraine because he realized American leadership is not what it was and he needed to strike while it is weak and disorganized,” says Watts.

Claire Wirth, 4th Congressional District Republican

Claire Wirth is a mother, builder, and real estate investment professional in Oldham County. She says she has been fighting for conservative values since she was a teenager living in Arizona. She is among three Republicans challenging incumbent Rep. Thomas Massie.

“I want to make sure that we’re standing up for liberty, fighting for our constitutional freedoms, and never bowing down to the radical left,” says Wirth. “This is my children’s future. I want them to have the American dream.”

Although she has been politically active for years, Wirth says she never considered running for office until the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. She argues that the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, and that his supporters who were at the U.S. Capitol that day were peaceful. She says left-wing radicals who infiltrated the event perpetrated the violence.

“There was Capitol Police that let people in… They held the doors open for them… So I’m not sure how that could be defined as an insurrection,” says Wirth. “Now we’re having political prisoners being held and denied their due process and nobody is standing up for them.”

Wirth says free and fair elections are critical to the country and our democracy. To protect voting security, she advocates eliminating electronic voting machines, which she says create a risk of fraud, and returning to paper ballots. She also wants more video surveillance of voting locations and ballot counts.

On gun rights, the Republican says she opposes red flag laws, saying they infringe on an individual’s right to own firearms. On foreign affairs, she calls for support of Israel and for completion of former President Trump’s border wall. Wirth says she hates the suffering Ukrainians are enduring at the hands of the Russian Army, but she says both sides are responsible for that conflict. She also contends there’s no amount of American aid that would end the war, and she says that money would be better spent fighting illegal immigration and helping the hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans in the U.S.

“There’s a lot of people in a real crisis in the United States of America that we’re ignoring,” she says.

Wirth contends federal COVID pandemic policies were more about controlling people than about science, and she says has not received any of the COVID vaccines.

“If you want to be vaccinated, then that’s your right, but I don’t believe that we should force anybody to be getting any kind of vaccine,” she says.

Finally, if elected Wirth pledges to serve only three terms in office. She says politicians who stay in Washington longer than that become beholden to special interests. She also says she will be a more respectful member of Congress than some other outspoken, far-right Republicans such as Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“I’m going to be a fighter, a strong conservative fighter, but I also believe in having a certain amount of decorum,” says Wirth. “When you’re going to D.C. and you’re representing people, you have to bring a certain amount of grace with you. Simply yelling and throwing a fit on the House floor is not enough. You need go get in there, work hard, and do right by your constituency.”

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Connections host Renee Shaw smiling in a gray suit along with the show logo and a "Check Schedule" button.Connections host Renee Shaw smiling in a gray suit along with the show logo and a "Check Schedule" button.

Season 29 Episodes

Medical Marijuana Legalization in Kentucky

S29 E44 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/30/23

Kentucky's Juvenile Justice System

S29 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/23/23

Legislation Introduced in the 2023 General Assembly

S29 E42 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/09/23

2023 Legislative Session Preview

S29 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12/19/22

National Politics

S29 E40 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 12/05/22

2022 Election Preview

S29 E39 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/07/22

Inflation and the Economy

S29 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/31/22

Constitutional Amendments 1 & 2

S29 E37 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 10/24/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part Two

S29 E36 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 10/17/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part One

S29 E35 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/10/22

U.S. Senate Candidate Charles Booker

S29 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10/03/22

Discussing Flooding's Impact on Eastern Kentucky Schools

S29 E33 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/26/22

COVID-19, Monkeypox and Influenza

S29 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/12/22

Eastern Kentucky Flooding and Legislative Relief Package

S29 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/29/22

Child Care in Kentucky

S29 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/22/22

School Safety: Debating State Policies

S29 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/01/22

Work, Wages and Welfare

S29 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/25/22

50 Years of Title IX

S29 E26 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/18/22

The Impact of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

S29 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/11/22

Kentucky's Ban on Abortion

S29 E23 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/27/22

Discussing New Developments in the COVID-19 Pandemic

S29 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/20/22

Reducing Opioid Addiction Rates in Kentucky

S29 E21 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 06/13/22

Mass Shootings and Gun Laws

S29 E20 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/06/22

Discussing the Rise in Gas Prices and Inflation

S29 E19 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/23/22

Previewing Kentucky's 2022 Primary Election

S29 E18 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/16/22

Third Congressional District Democratic Primary

S29 E17 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/09/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part Two

S29 E16 Length 58:33 Premiere Date 05/02/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part One

S29 E15 Length 58:40 Premiere Date 04/25/22

Lawmakers Review the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 04/18/22

Recap of the 2022 Legislative Session

S29 E13 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/11/22

Public Assistance and Jobless Benefits

S29 E12 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/28/22

Abortion Legislation in the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E11 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 03/21/22

State Budget, Taxes, and Other 2022 General Assembly Topics

S29 E10 Length 57:42 Premiere Date 03/14/22

Critical Race Theory and Approaches to Teaching History

S29 E9 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/28/22

2022 Legislative Session at the Midpoint

S29 E8 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/21/22

Name, Image and Likeness Compensation

S29 E7 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/14/22

Child Abuse and Neglect

S29 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/07/22

Debating School Choice in Kentucky

S29 E5 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 02/01/22

Debating Provisions in the Proposed State Budget

S29 E4 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/24/22

Redistricting, State Budget, and Other Legislative Issues

S29 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/10/22

Discussing Legislative Goals for the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E2 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/03/22

Previewing the 2022 Kentucky General Assembly

S29 E1 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 12/06/21

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2024 Legislative Session Preview - S30 E33

Renee Shaw hosts a 2024 legislative session preview. Scheduled guests: State Representative Chad Aull (D-Lexington); State Representative Stephanie Dietz (R-Edgewood); State Senator Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-Louisville); and State Senator Amanda Mays Bledsoe (R- Lexington). A 2023 KET production.

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2024 Legislative Preview - S30 E32

  • Wednesday November 22, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
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2023 Election - S30 E31

  • Tuesday November 7, 2023 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Candidate Conversations: Lieutenant Governor - S30 E30

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