2016 Elections

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky's U.S. Senate candidates were both bad-mouthing Washington as they toured the state's largest media markets on the eve of the general election.

In Lexington, Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul predicted "a big, big year for conservatives" Monday because he said Kentuckians are "sick and tired of big government."

In Louisville, Democrat challenger Jim Gray said people are "exhausted with the gridlock and dysfunction," and said the only way to change Washington is to "change the people we send up there."

Paul is seeking a second term in the U.S. Senate following his failed presidential campaign last year. Gray, the mayor of Lexington, is hoping to become the state's first openly gay U.S. senator.

Paul appeared with U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, while Gray campaigned with former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

Alexandra Kanik

The opioid epidemic is on the agenda for political campaigns from the presidential race down to the local level in the Ohio Valley region. Election Day could shape the response to the crisis in states with some of the nation’s highest rates of addiction and overdoses.

Pat Fogarty, Director of Business Development and Mission Advancement at The Healing Place treatment center in Louisville said he’s seen the political discussion about addiction change for the better.

“There’s less stigma around addiction by the way it’s been approached by our leadership,” he said. “That needs to continue to snowball for the future and not be put on the backburner.”

Addiction specialists say that while they’ve seen progress, there is still need for treatment resources, prevention programs, and aid for law enforcement across the region. They hope candidates in this year’s election cycle understand those needs.

Election Day is nearly upon us. So where does the electoral map stand? It's a close race, with Hillary Clinton retaining a broad and consistent but shallow advantage, according to the final NPR Battleground Map.

Compared with a couple of weeks ago, when Clinton hit her peak lead, the race has tightened. So our map reflects that — almost all of the moves benefit Trump, though because of one potentially determinative move, Clinton still surpasses the 270 electoral votes needed to be president with just the states in which she's favored.

WKU Public Radio

When Kentucky goes to the polls Tuesday, more than 300,000 potential voters will find themselves on the sidelines.

They all have a felony conviction. The vast majority, about 240,000, have finished their sentences. Almost 70,000 of them are black.

Unless Kentucky law is changed, their criminal records will almost certainly keep them from the voting booth forever.

Most states give felons their right to vote back when they leave prison, or finish the probation or parole term tied to their conviction. But Kentucky is one of three states, along with Florida and Iowa, still clinging to a permanent ban. Here, only a stroke of the governor’s pen can restore that right.

LRC Public Information / Bowling Green city government

Kentucky Republicans say this could be the year.  The GOP once again has its sights set on taking control of the state House for the first time in nearly a century.

One of the races in play is the 20th District which includes a portion of Warren County.  The two candidates are offering voters the choice between seniority and change.

At a recent event celebrating the expansion of the Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University, State Representative Jody Richards shook hands with many of those in attendance.

"How are you?  Doing alright today? Good to see you."

In fact, go to any public event in Warren County and Richards is sure to be there.  Richards is a 40-year incumbent and a fixture in Democratic politics.  His challenger is Republican Melinda Hill.

J. Tyler Franklin

A future state representative is taking issue with Gov. Matt Bevin’s recent comparison of sexually aggressive comments made by Donald Trump to rap music, video games and movies.

Attica Scott, a former Louisville Metro councilwoman, said Bevin’s comments were out of line for the governor’s office. Scott said for the governor to compare Trump’s remarks bragging about sexually harassing and groping women to anything “is inappropriate.”

“What does this say for me as a woman going to serve in Frankfort when our governor is willing to make excuses for a candidate for president and the way in which this candidate feels comfortable violating women’s bodies, bodies like my own,” she said.

On the Terry Meiners show on WHAS Tuesday, Bevin said that Trump’s comments bragging about groping and sexually harassing women were offensive, but then said critics of Trump’s language were hypocritical because they consume “the very same type of trash in movies and music and video games.”

Bevin specifically highlighted those who listen to rap music, read “Fifty Shades of Gray” and play the video game “Grand Theft Auto.”

Grimes Predicts 60 Percent Voter Turnout On Tuesday

Nov 2, 2016
Creative Commons

Kentucky’s top election official estimates 60 percent of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots on Tuesday.

Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said that’s on par with the turnout from the 2012 presidential election, when 59 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In 2008, the turnout was 64 percent.

Grimes said 47,000 people have cast in-person absentee ballots, up from 37,000 at this same time four years ago. The state has also issued 39,700 mail-in absentee ballots, of which 26,000 have been returned.

A record 3.3 million people are registered to vote in Tuesday’s election. For president, in addition to the Democratic and Republican candidates, Kentucky voters will have 23 registered write-in candidates to choose from. Elections are also scheduled for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislative seats.

Rhonda Miller

The race for the 23rd District seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives has a bull’s eye on it. The district covers Barren County and part of Warren County and has an open seat with the retirement of Democrat Johnny Bell.

Republican Steve Riley is facing off against Democrat Danny Basil in a race that could help decide whether the Kentucky House will remain the last legislative chamber in the South controlled by the Democratic Party.

Basil and Riley spoke to a group of students from Glasgow High School at Glasgow City Hall about issues of interest to the young people now and in the future.

”If I’m fortunate enough to be elected, education is one of my priorities in the legislature," said Basil.

Riley and Bail take turns speaking on issues like careers, roads and taxes, and taking questions from the students. The scene is far removed from the nastiness that’s been dominating the presidential race. The candidates are polite and admit that they agree on the importance of some issues, like education and economic development, even if they differ on how to reach their goals.

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

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray accused U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of having “wild-ass” ideas in their first and only face-to-face debate of the election year. The at times freewheeling event underscored the candidates’ differences on foreign policy and economic values.

Paul repeatedly tried to tie Gray to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, who are both unpopular in Kentucky.

“The mayor’s endorsed both of these candidates, so it makes it very difficult for him in Western Kentucky or Eastern Kentucky to convince people that he’s for them when he’s for these regulations that have been killing their jobs,” Paul said.

The hour-long debate, which was televised live on KET, took place about a week before Kentuckians go to the polls on Nov. 8.

Gray is in his second term as mayor of Lexington. Paul is at the end of his first term in the Senate. He also sought the Republican nomination for president but dropped out of the race earlier this year.

Jeff Young | Ohio Valley ReSource

One look at the recent arrivals shelf at Carmichael’s Books, in Louisville, and I knew something was up. Titles like “White Rage,” “White Trash,” and “The End of White Christian America” were piling up.

“And then this has been the surprise,” Carmichael’s co-owner Michael Boggs said, picking up another hardcover. “This actually hit the ‘Times’ bestseller list: ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ by J.D. Vance.”

Boggs has been in the book business nearly four decades, so he’s seen publishing trends come and go. This trend is built on something that hits close to home.

“I think we’re talking about white working class disappointment at what their lot has been,” he said. “Being ignored or being ridiculed, really.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Lurking beneath the headlines of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s bids for president, there’s a battle waging for Kentucky’s state House of Representatives. Democrats have much to lose — it’s the last legislative chamber controlled by the party in any Southern state. Republicans have everything to gain — if they net four more seats, they’ll have power over the entire legislative process in Frankfort.

This has all happened before. Republicans crusaded for control of the state House in the 2014 and 2012 elections but came up short. And though Republicans have trounced Democrats in most federal races for about 20 years now, the state still has a preponderance of Democrats registered to vote and recent House elections have still shown Democratic bastions in rural parts of the state.

GOP leaders say this year is different because they fielded candidates in 91 of the 100 House district elections. And they say they have momentum after Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s election last year, along with the advantage of having the state’s chief executive on fundraising duty for the state GOP and local candidates.

Daviess County

Daviess County is expecting a record turnout on Election Day that could go as high as 70 percent of registered voters.

Daviess County’s chief election officer, Richard House, says the anticipated high voter turnout is due to a combination of national, state and local races that are generating a lot of interest.

“I think both sides are really polarized as far as the presidential race is concerned. We have several State House races here in Daviess County that are competitive. We’re going to have a new mayor. We’re going to have new city commissioners. So we have a lot of local interest in this race.”

Lots of candidates have stepped up to the plate in Daviess County. Five are running for mayor of Owensboro. Ten people are running for four seats on the Owensboro City Commission.

“We also have our first family court judge and there are four candidates running really competitive races,” said House. “That’s a non-partisan office and it’s the first time we’ve ever had a family court judge. So that’s been drawing a lot of attention.”

Expectations of high voter turnout are leading Daviess County to add 30 poll workers for the Nov. 8 election. The county is estimating that 50,000 voters could cast ballots on Election Day.

House said the voter turnout in previous presidential election years was about 68 percent in 2008 and 63 percent in 2012.

Clinton Continues To Best Trump In Kentucky Fundraising

Oct 27, 2016

With just weeks left until the presidential election, Kentucky voters are still overwhelmingly donating to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Clinton’s campaign received more than 11 times the number of individual contributions in September than Republican Donald Trump garnered, according to new data from the Federal Election Commission.

Kentucky residents gave Clinton more than $224,787 last month, nearly double the $123,707 pulled in by Trump. The two reported nearly identical fundraising hauls — roughly $172,000 — in August, the previous month.

From the outset, Democrats needed a very big-wave election to get to the 30 seats they need to win back control of the House. Then, a video of Donald Trump surfaced showing the GOP nominee making lewd comments, and later multiple women accused him of groping them. That left some wondering if these scandals could trigger that wave.

But that simply hasn't happened.

Becca Schimmel

Kentucky’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate says the state’s economy would get a major boost from an infrastructure overhaul. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray spoke to students Friday at Western Kentucky University.

Gray said if nothing is done by the year 2020 it will take a trillion dollars to fix the nation’s infrastructure problems. The Barren County native cited a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers that gave Kentucky’s infrastructure a grade of C. Gray said lawmakers have to address the declining health of the nation’s roads, bridges and other modes of transportation first.

“What I would do is create a national infrastructure act, a bill, and I would be a champion for infrastructure and through that we will examine the needs and we will prioritize those needs and we will get the projects done,” Gray said.


The report from the ASCE gives the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of D+.