Sanders' IN upset could make KY primary more relevant than ever

RAW: Bernie Sanders addresses crowd on Big Four Bridge lawn
Former President Bill Clinton (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Former President Bill Clinton (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – With the clouds lifting and the sun setting over the Big Four Bridge, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) could address his first rally in the Commonwealth with his back to Indiana, after an upset victory in the Hoosier State's Tuesday primary let challenger Hillary Clinton "feeling the Bern" in momentum, if not in the delegate count for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

MORE: IN Primary results

"What we need, what this campaign is about, is a political revolution," Sanders told the thousands gathered near the end of his almost hour-long address. "Change is about seeing that the status quo does not work. The top 20 people in this country in wealth, now own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans - half our population!"

"I would like to see big money out of a lot of things," said Jozi Uebelhoer, a music major at the University of Louisville who voted in the primary prior to attending the rally.

"Free college is good too," her friend Rebekah Landers said. "That would be nice."

Tuition-free public higher education is among the linchpins of Sanders' reforms, self-described Democratic socialism variously praised as broadening and strengthening the government safety net, or condemned as high-taxing and ever more highly-intrusive.

An "absurd" $7.25 hourly wage would become a $15 hourly "living wage."

Those saddled with high-interest college loans could re-finance at the same rates the Fed makes available to banks. 

Kentucky's Democratic Presidential primary is part of the statewide primary May 17. Republicans, in deference to junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's aspirations, held their first-ever Presidential Caucus March 5, though Paul already had suspended his campaign.

Sanders' acknowledgment of his surroundings referenced Kentucky's troubled coal industry. He announced that workers displaced in the move away from fossil fuels would be eligible for a new $14 billion federal program to aid in the transition to environmentally sustainable energy resources.

"I don't know about all this free stuff, that kind of turns people off," said Elizabeth, Indiana resident Bob Hollis. "But he's right about the corporate business and all that."

"How are we going to pay for it," Sanders asked his audience rhetorically. "We're going to impose a tax on Wall Street speculation!"

Estimates vary on how much revenue such sin or bad behavior taxes would create, and whether the penalties would change the behavior, thereby drying up the revenue source.

But Sanders was clear on a number of other planks; Support police officers, but hold them accountable for rogue or racist behavior. Destroy ISIS, but put troops on the ground only as a last resort. Re-think the War on Drugs; decriminalizing marijuana and treating drug addiction as a disease rather than as a crime.

Support pay equity, the rights of same-sex couples and the transgendered.

"Donald Trump will not be the President, because every poll shows I beat him by double-digits," Sanders said. "America knows that diversity is strength, coming together always trumps dividing us. Love always trumps hatred."

Such words left Borden, Indiana resident D.L. Boes inspired and concerned.

"If he (Sanders) doesn't make it I don't know," she said. "There's nobody who's made me feel this way. Because there's not anybody who believes the way I believe."

Sanders' Indiana upset helps him little in the delegate count. Indiana awards its 83 delegates and eight super-delegates in proportion to the percentage of the popular vote.  

Kentucky (55 pledged delegates, six super-delegates) has been Clinton Country since 1992, when Bill Clinton's plurality captured the Commonwealth's electoral votes. He carried them again in 1996. Hillary Clinton defeated Barack Obama in the 2008 primary.

California's June primary offers the mother-lode of more than 546 delegates, but Hillary Clinton's lead prior to Indiana was such that she could clinch the nomination, even if Sanders claimed more than 60 percent of popular votes and delegates in the 14 remaining primaries and caucuses.

"I believe we can pull one of the biggest upsets in modern political history," Sanders told reporters at a New Albany restaurant Tuesday night.

Hollis had no doubts who he'd choose in November, should Sanders fall short.

"Hillary," he said. "I'm a Democrat through and through, and proud of it."

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