We’re delighted to endorse a remarkably honest progressive who sees the irreversible decline of the coal industry -- in Kentucky.
Yes, Kentucky. Sellus Wilder is running in a crowded Democratic primary for the right to challenge U.S. Senator Rand Paul, and he’s running as a climate hawk. Bernie Sanders’ political revolution begins in this May 17 primary.
Before Wilder became a candidate, he was a fractivist, helping to organize and promote the successful effort to stop “Kentucky’s Keystone XL,” the natural-gas Bluegrass Pipeline.
At a recent candidates’ forum, Wilder spoke the truth: coal jobs aren’t going to come roaring back to Kentucky, and statewide politicians vowing to fight an entirely chimerical “war on coal” are just peddling snake oil. Instead, Kentucky needs to invest in a clean energy future, turning strip mines into solar farms!
The rest of his policy platform: expanding Medicare to cover all Americans, breaking up “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions, legalizing and taxing marijuana, expanding the Clean Water Act to include fracking, strengthening union rights, lowering interest rates on student loans, and “modestly raising taxes on the wealthy.”
Wilder is no Alison Grimes, the Democrat who ran as a Republican-lite against Kentucky’s other senator, Mitch McConnell, in 2014 - we wouldn’t endorse if he was. Grimes made it clear that she strongly opposed Obama’s “war on coal,” and wouldn’t even say if she voted for Obama in 2012.
Wilder has the political courage to tell Kentucky that Obama’s EPA isn’t to blame for the decline of coal, to call for a just transition for Kentuckians… and to introduce Bernie Sanders at a rally.
Here’s the scoop on the race. Jim Gray, Mayor of Lexington, is anointed as the frontrunner, but he’s refusing to talk policy beyond an offhand comment that Obama’s Clean Power Plan “has really caused eastern Kentucky to suffer.” Meanwhile, Wilder is exciting the college campuses and just picked up the first statewide endorsement ever from Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, a 10,000-person strong grassroots progressive group. Gray just loaned himself $1,000,000, while Wilder depends on small donors like us.
We have five weeks before the May 17 primary to help Sellus win, to show that Kentuckians are tired of being lied to by their politicians, and to elect a true progressive climate hawk. And that’s what a political revolution looks like.