Connect with us

Latest

Crises forge Beshear’s role as Kentucky’s consoler in chief

Avatar photo

Published

on

Crises forge Beshear’s role as Kentucky’s consoler in chief

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (AP) — Derrek McIntosh was left homeless twice within weeks — first by floodwaters that destroyed his eastern Kentucky home, then when a fire burned down the house he stayed in with relatives.

Now that he’s moved into a temporary travel trailer, McIntosh said he no longer worries where he’ll lay his head at night. And the 34-year-old Republican gives the credit for that to a Democrat — Gov. Andy Beshear.

When flooding swept through parts of Appalachia in late July, McIntosh said, the governor moved quickly.

“I think he’s doing an awesome job,” McIntosh said.

Beshear’s first term in office has been dominated by one deadly crisis after another: the global COVID-19 pandemic, tornadoes that killed scores of people in western Kentucky in December and floodwaters in Appalachia that left dozens more Kentuckians dead. Through it all, Beshear has offered encouragement to victims, pledged to hold officials accountable for the federal response and dived into the details of the recovery process.

“This rebuilding process is going to be one of the most challenging the country has ever seen,” Beshear said during a recent stop in Hazard. “And I think we’re up to it. I saw this saying the other day. It was: God saves his toughest challenges for his strongest soldiers.”

If there’s a playbook for a Democratic politician navigating the treacherous politics of a ruby-red state, Beshear may have found it. The 44-year-old governor talks about his Christian faith, his stewardship of the state’s record-setting economy and the resilience of his fellow Kentuckians.

Beshear, who is seeking reelection to his second term next year, typically steers away from partisan politics.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“Every time that we can put aside red or blue, D or R, and just focus on things that are good for our families, are the times that we jump in front of every other state that can’t do that,” the governor said recently at the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s annual ham breakfast. “And I’m convinced that our job in state government isn’t to move the state to the right or to the left but to move it forward.”

Beshear’s approach has caught the eye of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who will chair the Democratic Governors Association in 2023. He said Beshear has an “unlimited ceiling” if the Kentuckian wins another term.

“He’s every bit as good as he seems,” Murphy said. “And he’s just an extraordinary leader and, by the way, knows how to get stuff done with the other side of the aisle.”

Other Democrats may find the formula hard to duplicate in places that haven’t faced the gauntlet of challenges Kentucky has — or if they lack his political pedigree. His father, Steve Beshear, was a popular two-term Kentucky governor from 2007 to 2015.

And while crisis management has marked the younger Beshear as a politician to watch since his election as governor in 2019, Republicans are lining up to challenge him in a state where Democrats have struggled in recent years.

The GOP holds both U.S. Senate seats, five of six congressional seats, every statewide office other than governor and lieutenant governor and supermajorities in the legislature.

“I think his personal image is right side up, but his party’s image is decidedly upside-down,” said Scott Jennings, a Kentucky-based Republican political commentator and former adviser to President George W. Bush.

Following a strategy that catapulted the GOP to dominance in Kentucky, Republican contenders for governor hope to nationalize the race, in part by tying Beshear to the inflationary surge that caused President Joe Biden’s approval ratings to sag.

But Beshear’s appearances with Biden have come in the aftermath of natural disasters and only served to amplify Beshear’s role as a state-level consoler in chief as he focuses on helping people.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

He intends to make his management of the state’s economy a cornerstone of his reelection campaign. During his term, Kentucky has posted record highs for job creation and investments and record low unemployment rates.

Republicans, meanwhile, consistently remind Kentuckians of the restrictions Beshear imposed during the pandemic.

“Folks, just because we lived through a global pandemic doesn’t mean that our rights, our freedoms and liberties should be tossed out the window,” GOP gubernatorial hopeful Ryan Quarles said this summer at the Fancy Farm picnic, the state’s top political event.

Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, among the Republicans running for governor, led a legal fight against Beshear’s pandemic restrictions on businesses and gatherings, winning before the Kentucky Supreme Court. That cleared the way for the legislature to rein in the governor’s emergency powers.

But as Republican rivals at the picnic slammed his job performance, Beshear was across the state in the mountains, consoling families left homeless by the flooding.

The governor defends his pandemic-related actions, which he says reflected guidance from then-President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force. More importantly, Beshear says, they saved lives.

For all his niceties, Beshear also has shown a fighter’s instincts — whether it’s on the campaign trail or in skirmishes over legislation.

He vetoed bills putting more restrictions on abortion and banning transgender girls and women from female sports teams, beginning in the sixth grade. Both were political risks in socially conservative Kentucky. Beshear also vetoed bills aimed at launching charter schools, phasing out individual income taxes and tightening rules for public assistance benefits. Republican lawmakers overrode all those vetoes and cite them as evidence that he’s out of touch.

“It shows that his beliefs are inconsistent with the beliefs of Kentuckians,” said state Auditor Mike Harmon, another GOP officeholder running for governor.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

But for some Republican voters, Beshear’s handling of epic natural disasters and his empathy for Kentuckians struggling to overcome tragedy matter more.

Timothy Carter, an eastern Kentucky coal miner and diehard Trump supporter, said Beshear has been there for flood victims.

“He’s gotten out and stomped right through the mud just the same as they have,” Carter said. “And when a lot of people see that, that brings a different respect. It’s an earned respect.”

In a region with deep affection for Trump, Carter and several others praised Beshear as they waited recently for their children to be fitted with donated shoes at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, one of several places Beshear designated as emergency shelters after the tornadoes or flooding.

During another visit there, Beshear comforted Pansy McCoy, who took refuge at the park after floodwaters swamped her home. She’s hit a snag in getting the help she needs.

“I just want my home,” she told the governor. “I just want a home.”

“We’ll work with you on that, OK?” Beshear said before connecting her with members of his team.

While McCoy expressed her appreciation for the governor, not everyone saw things that way.

Randy Johnson stayed outside the park lodge when the governor spoke to a crowd inside. Johnson said later that he’s been in limbo since his home was flooded, living at the park with his wife and grandchild and awaiting federal aid.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“He sure let us down,” Johnson said. “I just don’t see nothing getting any better.”

But that wasn’t the prevailing view. McIntosh, the Republican who’s moved into a temporary travel trailer, said he’ll have no problem voting for the governor next year.

“I can’t believe he’s doing as much as he’s doing here,” McIntosh said, “trying to help all us eastern Kentuckians.”

___

Associated Press writer Mike Catalini in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.

___

Follow AP for full coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

Read More

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Austin Local News

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

Avatar photo

Published

on

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

 

 

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

___

Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

Read More

Continue Reading

Austin Local News

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

Avatar photo

Published

on

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

Read More

Continue Reading

Business

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

Avatar photo

Published

on

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Read More

Continue Reading