As Kentucky prepares for a different election that what many of us are used to due to the COVID pandemic, Democrat Mike Broihier is heading into the upcoming primary election period with an amplified focus on progressing the Commonwealth forward.
In an interview with Appalachian Newspapers on June 15, Brohier spoke on several topics that are not only near and dear to Kentuckians but the nation as a whole.
According to Brohier, when he first began campaigning, the three things that were on the minds of Kentuckians that he spoke to were jobs, healthcare and the environment.
“During the pandemic, what was on people’s minds? Jobs, healthcare and the environment,” Broihier said. “The environment still stays a close third when you talk to people, which kind of surprised me, because in the face of this pandemic, people are still really worried about the effects of climate change.”
According to him, the COVID hasn’t changed anything regarding what he is running on, if anything, Broihier said it “amplified” his thoughts and believes that he feels are important.
Broihier said he has developed a plan that would mostly affect Eastern Kentucky, something of which he has been working on with other candidates in different coal producing Appalachian states on.
“I call it ‘Just transition to a Green Economy,’ and basically what that means is that the federal government has let the energy companies and the coal companies off the hook,” Broihier said. “They are not coming back to clean up their mess. They’re not coming back to clean up the economy and they are not coming back to clean up the environment. So it’s on the federal government to fix it.”
According to Broihier, he wants to go to Washington, to fight not only for Kentucky, but also the other eight coal producing Appalachian states and say, “Ok you owe us in fixing this problem.”
“My plan is this. We start a massive infrastructure program for Eastern Kentucky, which is focused on renewable energy,” Broihier said. “Solar and wind. Those surface mines that are geologically unstable, that we can’t use for anything else, we will reinforce them and try and sure them up. But, the good thing is that if we do a large-scale infrastructure project like that, you put people to work.
“Industry follows infrastructure and once the road, water, sewer and the rural broadband is in, then industry will follow,” he added.
Brohier said his plan would help families who have had loved one displaced from the work force due the loss in coal jobs, while also putting a “huge dent” in the carbon footprint relating to global warming.
Food security is one of the issues he’s been working on the hardest, as a farmer himself, is letting people know ‘this system that we’ve built is very fragile and it can break,”something of which he said has already began top show cracks, in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The thing is, Kentucky is great, we can grow anything here,” Broihier said. “And it’s just a shame that there are people here who are worried about where their next meal is going to come from.”
Broihier said the switch from strong, local and rural agriculture to big corporate farming has played a part in showing the cracks in the food security system.
“When all of a sudden people around the country start saying ‘you know what, instead of taking that steer to the auction, I think I’m going to put him in the freezer.’ That shows you that people are worried.
“Instead of taking it to the auction house and having the cash, they’d rather have the food,” he added.
Regarding the recent war on social injustice and racism, Broihier said he believes that people are very righteously now protesting what’s happening with the police, particularly the disproportion effect on African Americans in regards to their interactions with law enforcement, which in uniformly negative.
“It’s sad that a crisis such as the death of someone like Breyona Taylor or George Floyd...the fact that it literally took the murder of an innocent citizen at the hands of law enforcement to draw attention to something, that if you ask many African Americans, it’s a part of their daily lives.,” Broihier said. “It’s a conversation that is long overdue.”
According to Broihier, the population has became angry over the injustices. However, these tragedies also demoralize all the good cops out there. He added that while these protests are going forward, people need to pay attention the “whys.”
“Why are people protesting, well the facts are in,” Broihier said. “Way too often, every interaction between an African American, particularly young men, and law enforcement turns out poorly and that’s why this is taking place.
“People who are in office or are running for office, it’s up to them to reconcile it and try to make it right... because we need to reform the way we do law enforcement,” he added.
Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and his organization Humanity Forward recently endorsed Broihier, something of which he said has been incredible.
“After he stopped running for president, a lot of his staff just started driving to Kentucky to work for me,” Broihier said. “They saw this as the next important race and they thought that I was the candidate who best matched their values.”
According to Broihier, he has completed nearly 80 telephone interviews with rural-weekly newspapers in Kentucky since the pandemic began. As a former newspaper editor, Broihier said he knows just how important those sources of information are.
“People read the newspaper out in the counties,” Broihier said. “Many of the kids that came to work for me are used to working on a national campaign and so me and Lynn (Broihier’s wife) had to tell them, ‘you can’t discount how important local newspapers are.”
Broihier is one of nine Democrats on the primary ballot seeking the nomination in the primary.
For more information on Broihier, his website is, www.mikeforky.com