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Political Analysts Forecast the 2023 General Election

Renee Shaw and guests discuss the 2023 election with three weeks remaining. Guests: Amy Wickliffe, Republican strategist and partner with McCarthy Strategic Solutions; Sherman Brown, Democratic strategist and partner with McCarthy Strategic Solutions; Anne-Tyler Morgan, an attorney, Republican, and member in the McBrayer PLLC; and Stuart Perelmuter, founder and CEO of atAdvocacy.
Season 30 Episode 28 Length 56:33 Premiere: 10/17/23


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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The Kentucky Tonight podcast features each episode’s audio for listening.

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.

Panelists Discuss Campaign Trends and Strategies as Election Day Draws Near

Ahead of Kentucky Tonight’s conversation with the candidates for governor on Nov. 23, Renee Shaw spoke with four political operatives about this year’s elections and some trends they see heading into the final weeks.

Andy Beshear, the Democratic incumbent for governor, and Republican challenger Daniel Cameron, the attorney general of Kentucky, debated on Monday at Northern Kentucky University. GOP strategist Amy Wickliffe says that meeting and the other forthcoming debates give people around the state an opportunity to hear the candidates discuss regional issues. She says voters can also see if the policy positions of Cameron and Beshear evolve as Election Day nears.

Recent polling in the race gives Beshear a lead of between six and 16 points. Democratic strategist Stuart Perelmuter credits that advantage to strong economic growth, infrastructure investments, and the governor’s bipartisan leadership through the COVID pandemic and multiple natural disasters.

“What’s interesting about the polls that I have seen is that you see this appreciation for Gov. Beshear even as they’re saying, ‘We also really like Donald Trump and we also think the (2020 presidential) election was stolen,’” says Perelmuter, “To me what that’s saying is Andy Beshear has always governed without partisanship in mind. He governs for the people of Kentucky, not the party.”

Republicans contend that Beshear is riding an economic wave that GOP legislators fostered with tax cuts and pro-business policies they passed. But even many Republicans have given Beshear good marks, and Wickliffe acknowledges that some of them may vote for the governor over Cameron.

“It’s clear that Andy Beshear knew that he had to go after, in a very strategic way, the Republican vote,” says Wickliffe. “This is the first gubernatorial election we have had where Republican registration outnumbers Democrat, so that is a difference in this election cycle, and it’s no secret that he was going to have to go out and really try to gin-up some Republican support.”

For his part, Cameron has sought to redefine Beshear’s tenure with attacks on the governor’s pandemic closures, education policies, and stances on abortion and other social issues. Republican attorney Anne-Tyler Morgan says Cameron has stepped ahead of GOP lawmakers by saying he wants to phase out the state’s income tax during his first term if elected. Morgan says that schedule is significantly faster than the one enacted by the GOP-controlled General Assembly, which would take to at least 2032 to cut the income tax to zero.

Wickliffe says Cameron has pledged to work with budget chairs in the state Senate and House of Representatives to devise the best tax cut strategy for the commonwealth.

“He’s not going to unilaterally just go in and make those decisions,” says Wickliffe. “He is going to be collaborative and work with the General Assembly, something we technically have not really seen the governor do with this particular General Assembly.”

Democratic strategist Sherman Brown says the chasm between the governor and the legislature is blown out of proportion. He says GOP legislators also complained that former Gov. Matt Bevin, a fellow Republican, wouldn’t work with them either. Perelmuter says people do want their elected officials get along, but he argues Beshear has been busy trying to overcome the Republican-driven laws on abortion and LGBTQ individuals, which Perelmuter contends are extreme and hamper corporate investments.

The Fight for the Education Vote

On education, Cameron contends the learning losses Kentucky children experienced over the last three years are the result of the governor closing schools during the pandemic.

“What’s interesting about some of the COVID discussion in the campaign has been how Cameron has used it to form his education plan, his comeback plan, and how he has made education more of a Republican issue again,” says Morgan. “Now both candidates are talking about how they help public schools and public teachers.”

In August, Cameron apologized to a group of public school administrators, saying he was sorry for any disrespect they felt from him or fellow Republicans. Morgan says Cameron has since worked to prove to Kentuckians that he stands with public schools and teachers.

Perelmuter contends Cameron’s rhetoric on public education is at odds with his support for school choice and scholarship tax credits.

“I’ve seen his plans, and his plans are to funnel money out of the public school system,” says Perelmuter. “So it’s great to talk about [public education], I like that he’s saying those things, but his plans would do the opposite and it’s really concerning.”

“Democrats like to say that you’re funneling money out of public education,” counters Wickliffe. “We’re really talking about giving parents the opportunity to make choices about what is the best education path for their children.”

Republican campaign ads have sought to nationalize the governor’s race by tying Beshear to President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat. Morgan says the president’s low approval ratings have continued to slip in the commonwealth, going from 34 percent in August to 26 percent in early October. On the stump, Cameron frequently ties Beshear to President Biden and his policies.

“Daniel Cameron should absolutely be using that strategy because Kentucky overwhelmingly disfavors Joe Biden,” says Morgan.

But that may not be an effective tactic against a popular incumbent like Beshear, according to Perelmuter.

“Kentucky knows Andy Beshear, they know his record,” he says. “People have a relationship with Andy Beshear and so I just don’t see the needle moving on that.”

What to Watch for on Election Night

Once the vote tallies begin to arrive on Nov. 7, Morgan says she will watch the numbers from Campbell, Kenton, and Boone Counties in northern Kentucky. She says turnout was nearly equal between Democrats and Republicans in Boone County in the 2019 elections, so she says any of those counties could help turn the gubernatorial race this year.

In addition to northern Kentucky, Wickliffe says she will monitor the state’s two most populous counties, Jefferson and Fayette, as well as Warren and Madison Counties. Wickliffe and Morgan say Jefferson County could prove interesting, thanks to significant GOP gains in suburban parts of Metro Louisville. The two Republicans also say they expect strong turnout in rural Kentucky, where they contend crime and the economy are important issues. The state averaged just over 44 percent turnout in the 2019 elections.

Brown points out that former Gov. Bevin received more votes for his reelection campaign in 2019 than he got in 2015, yet Andy Beshear still managed to beat the incumbent. Brown says the Beshear campaign is on track to knock on more than a million doors in the state this year.

As for election turnout, Brown says he’s tracking western and northern Kentucky. He says Democrats haven’t won those regions lately but that the trend could change. He also points to new ads from Beshear that tout the governor’s efforts to help people in western Kentucky rebuild from the December 2021 tornados and eastern Kentuckians recover from the July 2022 flooding. He says those messages have an emotional resonance for voters in those regions.

“They remember how they felt when he was there and showed up and was literally hugging them, telling them it’s going to be ok and that he wasn’t leaving them,” says Brown. “And he hasn’t left them.”

As for down-ballot races, Wickliffe says she’s watching how well current Treasurer Allison Ball does in her campaign for state auditor. She says Ball, a Republican, was the top vote-getter among all the candidates for statewide office in the 2019 general election and in this year’s primaries. Ball faces Democratic newcomer Kim Reeder of Morehead.

The pundits are also watching the race for attorney general where Republican Russell Coleman faces Democratic state Rep. Pamela Stevenson. In addition to being a former U.S. Attorney and former FBI agent, Coleman also is a prolific fundraiser, according to Wickliffe. She says the Republican has $800,000 on hand to spend in the final weeks.

Brown says he expects the national Democratic Attorneys General Association to invest in ads for Stevenson to make her more competitive. But Republicans have criticized Stevenson for not being licensed to practice law in the commonwealth.

Perelmuter says that’s a non-issue because attorney generals in Kentucky aren’t required to be licensed to practice here. He says Stevenson, who is licensed in Indiana, has reciprocity to practice in Kentucky. He also says that as a retired U.S. Air Force attorney with more than two decades of experience, Stevenson is more qualified for the job of attorney general than Daniel Cameron was. Perelmuter also contends that Coleman has been inconsistent on the abortion issue, saying the Republican has supported a ban without exceptions while also saying that there should be exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

“He’s not the first politician to distance himself from his own position when he finds out that it’s incredibly unpopular,” says Perelmuter. “He’s changed his rhetoric, but he has a very clear track record that he’s done nothing to reverse.”

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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 30 Episodes

2024 Legislative Preview: Part Two

S30 E33 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 12/04/23

2024 Legislative Preview

S30 E32 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 11/20/23

Analysts Discuss What to Expect on Election Day 2023

S30 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/06/23

Candidate Conversations: Lieutenant Governor

S30 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/30/23

Candidate Conversations: Governor

S30 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/23/23

Political Analysts Forecast the 2023 General Election

S30 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/17/23

Secretary of State; Commissioner of Agriculture

S30 E27 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/09/23

Auditor of Public Accounts; State Treasurer

S30 E26 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/02/23

Kentucky's Economy, Jobs and Taxes

S30 E25 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/25/23

Higher Education in Kentucky

S30 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/18/23

Kentucky's Health Care Challenges

S30 E23 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/11/23

Education Issues in Kentucky

S30 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/21/23

Fancy Farm Preview and Kentucky Politics

S30 E21 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/31/23

Kentucky's Energy Needs

S30 E20 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 07/17/23

Artificial Intelligence

S30 E19 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 07/10/23

Jobs, Inflation and the Economy

S30 E18 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/26/23

SB 150 and LGBTQ Issues

S30 E17 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/19/23

Horse Racing Safety

S30 E16 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 06/12/23

A Discussion of Gun Laws

S30 E15 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/05/23

Recapping The 2023 Kentucky Primary

S30 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/22/23

2023 Primary Election Preview

S30 E13 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/15/23

Republican Candidate for Secretary of State

S30 E12 Length 15:00 Premiere Date 05/08/23

Republican Candidates for Governor

S30 E11 Length 1:29:20 Premiere Date 05/01/23

Candidates for Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture

S30 E10 Length 1:15:06 Premiere Date 04/24/23

Challenges Facing Kentucky Schools

S30 E9 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/17/23

Policy Analysts Recap the 2023 General Assembly

S30 E8 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 04/10/23

Recap of the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly

S30 E7 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/03/23

Kentucky Legislation on LGBTQ+ Youth

S30 E6 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 03/20/23

Student Discipline Legislation

S30 E5 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/13/23

Gambling Proposals in the Kentucky General Assembly

S30 E4 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 02/27/23

Kentucky's Teacher Shortage

S30 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/20/23

Exploring Local Government Issues

S30 E2 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 02/13/23

Child Abuse and Neglect in Kentucky

S30 E1 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 02/06/23

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Kentucky Tonight - S30 E34

  • Monday December 18, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
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  • Monday January 8, 2024 8:00 pm ET on KET
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2024 Legislative Session Preview - S30 E33

  • Wednesday December 6, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 6, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 6, 2023 1:00 am ET on KET
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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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