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Jeanie Embry doesn’t mince words about why she’s backing Bernie Sanders for president:

Kentucky for Sanders

“He’s the give ‘em hell Harry’ candidate I’ve been waiting for.”

Embry, from Paducah, Kentucky, and 19 more Sanders supporters marched, waved to the crowd and carried Sanders-for-president signs—most of them handmade—in the annual homecoming parade at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, on Saturday. The group included several Murray students and grads.

Aaron Bugg of Paducah and Janice Thomasson of Murray organized the paraders. The duo is coordinating the Sanders campaign in deep western Kentucky, arguably the most conservative corner of the Bluegrass State.

They’ve rounded up close to three dozen volunteers.

“Feel the Bern, baby!” Thomasson said with a grin.

“I used to be apathetic about politics,” Bugg confessed. “Bernie is the first candidate I’ve ever gotten behind 100 percent.”

The main reason I’m for Bernie is that he is planting the seeds for a good country. He supports good quality and affordable health care and education and a cleaner environment. A healthy, educated public together makes a good nation.

Added Bugg: “The main reason I’m for Bernie is that he is planting the seeds for a good country. He supports good quality and affordable health care and education and a cleaner environment. A healthy, educated public together makes a good nation.”

Paducah and Murray are in the eight-county Jackson Purchase region, as far west as Kentucky goes. Here, most Democrats call themselves conservatives and go out of their way to distance themselves from President Barack Obama, who polled less than a third of the vote in 2012.

Nonetheless, the Sanders activists have been busy since the summer, holding meetings and using social media to spread the word about the independent democratic socialist senator from Vermont who is running for president on the Democratic ticket.

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The Sanders fans were the largest political group in Paducah’s Labor Day parade. Several of the Sanders activists belong to unions.

Erin Pritchard is a student for Sanders who rode a yellow bike in the Murray procession. “Bernie is for the college student,” said Pritchard, an MSU history major from Sikeston, Missouri. “He’s also looking out for the impoverished, the sick and the dying. He’s a great candidate for our country.”

“Bernie is really a down-to-earth guy,” said junior studio art major Savannah Young of Cadiz, Kentucky. “He’s the only guy in politics who I feel like I can really trust to make lives better for us.”

Kentucky for Sanders

Western Kentucky Says "Give ‘em Hell, Bernie"—Berry Craig

Pritchard and Young like Sanders’s plan for making all public colleges and universities tuition-free. His proposal also would remove the federal “profit” from student debt and would permit students to refinance at greatly reduced rates.

Travis Russell of Paducah is another fan of the plan. The loan debt burden on many students is crushing, he said. “It doesn’t make sense to put students into poverty and debt at the most vulnerable time in their lives.”

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Joseph Rumsey and Megan Broussard, both from Paducah, were also “feeling the Bern” on the parade route down Main Street in Murray. “I agree with everything he is for,” said Rumsey. “It’s time for a real change,” added Broussard.

The Sanders marchers ranged in age from 5 to sixtyish. Cody Parker, 11, of Murray likes Sanders “because he’s smart.”

The parade was a family affair for the Lawrences of Murray. “Bernie is great!” said Cooper, 5. “Bernie is the best,” chimed in big sister, Emma, 7.

[dc]“U[/dc]ntil we get corporate money out of politics, it doesn’t matter what we think,” said mom, Kacie Lawrence.

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Anybody interested in joining the Sanders campaign can contact Thomasson or Bugg by email at janice.thomasson@gmail.com or kypa4bernie@gmail.com.

Berry Craig