2016 Elections

Paul (photo provided) Gray (Jim Gray for US Senate)

Kentucky's November U.S. Senate matchup is set.

Sen. Rand Paul has secured the Republican nomination in his pursuit of a second term while Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has secured the Democratic nod. 

The Kentucky Republican defeated his two challengers -- James Gould and Steven Slaughter -- while Gray won out against six underfunded Democratic opponents.  

Paul juggled dual campaigns for the White House and re-election to the Senate until early this year, when he ended his struggling presidential bid. 

Earlier today, Paul said it's basically the "patriotic duty" of Kentuckians to vote against against Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton because of her comments about coal.  Paul's comments are more evidence that Kentucky Republicans plan to use Clinton's coal-related remarks against Democratic candidates in the fall general election.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

Polls are still open in the Kentucky primary election until 6 o’clock. Voter turnout is expected to be low and rain across the state probably didn’t help get people out to the polls.

It’s been a quiet day at Morton Middle School in Lexington. Local election official David Cupps says Republican turnout was low at his polling location — possibly because Republicans already voted for president in March.

“It does look like Republican turnout is lighter than Democratic turnout and it was very slow first thing this morning, so the rain probably did cut down on the turnout,” he said.

Cupps said he still expected his location’s participation rate to be higher than the statewide prediction of 20 percent.

Kentuckians go to the polls Tuesday to choose their Democratic presidential nominee, major-party candidates for U.S. Senate and House, and nominees for multiple state House and Senate races.

Before you head out to the polls, here’s what you should know:

When and where can I vote?

Polls open at 6 a.m. local time and close at 6 p.m. You can find your polling place and check out sample ballots here.

How long will I have to stand in line?

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says she expects 20 percent of the state’s more than 3.2 million registered voters to cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary elections. Grimes says the absence of a Republican presidential race will likely drive down turnout on the GOP side. The state party held a presidential caucus in March, which Donald Trump won easily.

Who am I voting for?

In the federal races: Democratic Presidential Primary, Republican Senate Primary, Democratic Senate Primary, and all six Congressional Districts.

A detailed guide to the 2016 federal elections is right here.

When will I know who won?

Statewide results should start rolling in a little after 6 p.m. central, when polls in the western part of the state close. We’ll have live coverage on the air, and at wkyufm.org.

Polling Places Open on Kentucky's Primary Election Day

May 17, 2016
Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Polling places for the primary election have opened in Kentucky as light rain falls across much of the state.

The forecast called for widespread showers early Tuesday and scattered showers later in the day with high temperatures reaching to about 60 degrees.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has said she expects voter turnout to reach about 20 percent for the primary election. The ballot includes a host of local, state and federal races.

The top race for Democrats is presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Republicans held a presidential caucus in March, which was won by Donald Trump.

Other major races on the ballot include seats for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and the state House. Voters can cast ballots until 6 p.m. local time.

Lisa Autry

On the eve of Kentucky’s primary election, Hillary Clinton courted voters in southern Kentucky.  The Democratic presidential front-runner held a rally in Bowling Green Monday. 

Clinton spoke as though she was trying to mend fences following her controversial statement about putting coal miners out of work in the pursuit of clean energy. 

She touted herself as the only candidate with a plan to revitalize coal country which includes putting more money into research to determine how the nation can continue to use coal.

"We do have to transition, but we need to take coal country, coal miners, and their families, and not leave them behind," Clinton stated.

The Appalachian region has been hit hard economically by the decline in the coal industry. 

Clinton has already been tested in one Appalachian state.  Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders easily won West Virginia’s Democratic primary last week.

Seth Wenig/AP

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are turning their attention to the general election, and to one of the most important decisions they will make —choosing a vice president.

Picking a vice president is the first "presidential level" decision any candidate makes. Although vice presidential candidates have rarely, perhaps never, determined the outcome of an election, the choice tells voters a lot about the candidate.

The two most important criteria are always the same:

1. Pick someone who's would ready to be president, if necessary, and
2. DO NO HARM

Here's a look at the potential VP short lists for Clinton and Trump. For the purposes of this exercise, we will restrict the names to those who have indicated they would be open to the possibility or at least have not ruled out joining the ticket.

Creative Commons

Kentucky Democrats will decide between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election, and members from both parties will vote in elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and state House. Some state Senate districts will also be on the ballot.

Republicans won’t vote for president because in March the party conducted a caucus election, which Donald Trump won handily.

Voter turnout is expected to be low on Tuesday — about 20 percent, according to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. She says Republicans might be less inclined to show up to the polls since their presidential contest has already taken place.

Here’s a look at the federal offices on the ballot and the candidates running for them.

Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

Riding a wave of notoriety from his failed presidential campaign, Sen. Rand Paul has returned to Kentucky, relatively unscathed, to run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

Paul has an easy path to securing the nomination in Tuesday’s primary election. With no major challengers this year, he hasn’t run TV ads or participated in public debates. Paul has appeared in a series of town hall meetings across the state, touting his platform, which is essentially the same as it was during his 2010 race.

A vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, environmental regulations and intervention in foreign wars, Paul voted against budget compromises that would have avoided a government shutdown in 2013. On the campaign trail in Kentucky this spring, he defended the move.

“My point is that maybe it needs to shut down so we can fix it,” he said. “We have to do something about it.”

There are two Republicans running against Paul — Lexington financial analyst James Gould and Louisville engineer Stephen Slaughter. Both are political newcomers and haven’t run high-profile campaigns.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

A mayor, a filmmaker and an army veteran are the frontrunners in the seven-man Democratic primary for Kentucky U.S. Senate.

Though no public polling has been conducted on the race, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray appears to be the favorite—having secured an endorsement from the Lexington Herald-Leader and amassed a respectable campaign war chest.

Gray raised $1.75 million in the first quarter of this year—$1 million of which was his own money.

During a debate on Wednesday between Gray, filmmaker Sellus Wilder and army veteran Ron Leach, the candidates reserved their punches for the likely Republican nominee—incumbent Senator Rand Paul.

Gray criticized Paul for devoting too much time to his failed presidential bid, which extended from early 2015 through February of this year.

Lisa Autry

When Kentucky voters head to the polls Tuesday, May 17, for the sstate's primary election, they’ll help choose the Democratic presidential nominee. 

While Hillary Clinton is ahead in the delegate count, she doesn’t have enough to lock up the nomination yet. Both Clinton and Sanders are battling for Kentucky’s 60 delegates at stake. 

On a weekday afternoon, Michelle Thomas and a few of her girlfriends get together at Thomas’ Bowling Green home, which has turned into a makeshift campaign headquarters for Hillary Clinton.

“We have yard signs and some bumper stickers and buttons," Thomas said.

The ladies were phone banking, trying to drum up support for Clinton ahead of Tuesday’s primary.  It was the middle of the day and Janet Gouvas has been getting lots of answering machines.

Win McNamee (L)/Getty Images and View press/Corbis (R) via Getty Images

Donald Trump arrived in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to meet with his party's congressional leaders to hash out their differences and talk GOP unity ahead of what is likely to be a pitched general-election battle against Hillary Clinton.

First up was a private meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan. The two arrived around 9 a.m. ET at the Republican National Committee in a session orchestrated by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

Swarms of journalists, protesters and onlookers crowded around the building just behind the U.S. Capitol. The crazy scene included a Trump impersonator in a huge piñata mask mocking Trump on a megaphone, immigration activists, signs that read "Trump is a racist" and "Islamophobia is un-American," and chants of "GOP RIP, GOP RIP."

Twitter

Four Republicans are vying to be the chosen “Washington outsider” in the primary race for U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield’s Western Kentucky district, which he has represented in Congress since 1994. But it appears the real horse race is between just two.

After losing to now-Gov. Matt Bevin in last year’s primary race, former Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has the financial edge despite an early fundraising lead by Mike Pape, Whitfield’s longtime district director. Also running are Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts and Trigg County farmer Miles Caughey.

Scott Jennings, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, says Comer has a name recognition advantage in the race after his high-profile gubernatorial bid.

“To build up name ID is not an easy thing, and it takes time and it takes money, and this was not the kind of campaign that was probably conducive to building that sort of name ID that would’ve helped Pape or Batts catch up to Comer,” he says.

Grimes Predicts 20 Percent Turnout For Kentucky Primaries

May 11, 2016
Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Kentucky’s top election official says she expects 20 percent of the state’s more than 3.2 million registered voters to cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary elections.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said more than 12,000 people have already cast absentee ballots for a host of local, state and federal races. Of those, 7,533 were cast by registered Democrats and 4,821 were cast by registered Republicans.

The race most likely to drive turnout will be the Democratic presidential primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Kentucky will not have a Republican presidential primary. The state party held a presidential caucus in March, which was won by Donald Trump.

Grimes said the lack of a Republican presidential race will likely drive down turnout on the Republican side.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Hillary Clinton criticized Gov. Matt Bevin for his work to dismantle elements of the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky during a campaign stop in Louisville Tuesday.

The former first lady and secretary of state has been campaigning in Kentucky ahead of the state’s Democratic presidential primary next week.

During the campaign stop at Family Health Centers in the Portland neighborhood, Clinton applauded Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, Kynect, calling it “the best example” of states’ efforts to expand health coverage. She criticized apparent Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s position against the law, also known as Obamacare.

“Donald Trump wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, your governor is working hard to undermine what Kentucky has accomplished,” Clinton said. “I think with somebody like Donald Trump you would see a race to the bottom across our country — with working families paying the price.”

Stu Johnson, WEKU News

Child care issues were front and center for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a visit to Lexington Tuesday. The former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady held an almost hour-long round table talk with parents and staff at Lexington’s Family Care Center.

Clinton announced a proposal to increase federal investments so families would not pay more than ten percent of their income for child care. The Democratic frontrunner says a 60 percent turnover in child care workers needs attention.

“We’ve got this dilemma. Families can’t pay more, but child care workers have to have a decent income in order to stay in the field to get the skills that will make them even better in their jobs.”

She said existing government subsidies could help cover that cost.

“Some of them flow directly to the states and to other entities and some are more direct, but mostly through the states. We already have a system--it’s just not kept up with the times. It hasn’t kept up with the cost,” Clinton said.

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