It’s hard to complain about KET’s coverage of the election last night. The statewide network’s show, anchored competently by Bill Goodman and Renee Shaw, had the most-up-to-date numbers on the Beshear landslide, and included interviews with reporters from around the state (including the C-J’s Joe Gerth). There werre on-site interviews with politicos, like the GOP’s uncomfortable Steve Robertson, and every concession and victory speech. It lasted 208 minutes.
But the highlight of the show was in the studio, and specifically John David Dyche,who refused to go along with anyone’s party line. Jennifer Moore, the former chair of the state Democratic party, could be counted on to say what Democrats would want her to say. Al Cross, the former C-J political writer, added some historical perspective and insider knowledge of the races.
But Dyche kept me watching. He gave viewers some gems about the difficulties ahead for the Republicans, saying that the voters weren’t giving Beshear credit, but were rejecting Williams. Dyche questioned the motives of both parties.
Dyche, just before Beshear’s speech: “Maybe he’ll tell us what the mandate is.”
Goodman: “He probably won’t, John David, and you’re just baiting the audience a little bit, to keep them hanging on to KET.”
Dyche again: “Williams has already launched his next campaign, which is the campaign to hold on to his Senate presidency. He wasted no time in doing that. . . The Republicans very quickly have to make an important decision about leadership, face, voice and strategic apporach for the party.”
Dyche hammered Republicans on their image. Like it or not, he said, they are personified by Williams, and he questioned how he could lead after such a clear defeat.
“David Williams just took an awful thumping. You just heard the Governor, who just won a huge re-elction, thrown down the gauntlet toward the leadership of Senate president David Williams. ”
Those kinds of comments engaged the rest of the panel, and he was just as spot-on after speeches by the other candidates and comments by party leaders.
“The Republicans have to ask, Are we going to have someone who just got beat by 21 points for governor be our face in the next session?” Dyche later disagreed with Cross, who thinks that Williams can change his approach to be more conciliatory to the other party.
Of course, few Kentuckians were watching the broadcast. I happened to be at the local Trader Joe’s at 6 last night, where more than a dozen people were gathered to get in to the wine shop. I spoke to several people who didn’t understand why the store was closed til 6, who didn’t realize it was election day. Voter turnout in Jefferson county was 32 percent. and 28 percent throughout the state.
As for local stations, the election didn’t warrant much in the way of special programming.
WHAS-TV had a half-hour election special at 7, which went off the air before the results were complete. It featured Joe Arnold in the studio interviewing Republican operative Ted Jackson, who was a mediocre, at best, guest. .Over at WAVE-TV, the regular news hour at 7 featured coverage from the main camps of the competitors in Frankfort and Lexington. WLKY-TV stuck with its regular Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy combination, and most likely enjoyed high ratings.