2016 Elections

Republicans in Kentucky's 1st Congressional District have nominated James Comer for a special election to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield.

The GOP held a nominating meeting in Franklin Tuesday night.

Whitfield announced his resignation last week, about one year after announcing he would not seek re-election this year.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesady called a special election for Nov. 8 to elect someone to fulfill the remainder of Whitfield's term, which expires in January.

Comer is the former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner who's already on the Nov. 8 ballot as he seeks a full, two-year term in Congress.

He told WKU Public Radio he's confident whoever wins the full two-year term will join a House still in Republican control, even though as many as eight or ten seats may shift to the Democratic side.

He faces Democrat Sam Gaskins, who is likely to be the Democrats' nominee for the special election.

Ryland Barton

Democrat Jim Gray used Labor Day to unveil his jobs plan as he tries to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

Media outlets report Gray released his economic agenda Monday at the United Auto Workers union hall in Louisville.

Gray says he wants to invest in infrastructure, broadband internet and education to bring more jobs and attract businesses to Kentucky. That includes repairing and rebuilding roads and bridges.

He says state residents are "living today on the infrastructure of our parents and our grandparents."

He also stressed the importance of small business and increasing access to small business loans.

Gray co-owns a construction company and has been Lexington's mayor since 2011. Paul was elected to the Senate in 2010.

Richard Drew/AP

Hillary Clinton told FBI investigators no one at the State Department raised concerns with her about using private email servers to conduct government business during her time as secretary of state.

Clinton repeatedly told investigators she relied on seasoned professionals at the department to ensure that classified information was handled properly. And she insisted her use of the private server was for convenience, not an attempt to evade Freedom of Information Act requests or government record-keeping laws.

Clinton's statements are detailed in a record of the July 2 interview released today by the FBI. (You can read that and the FBI's longer investigative report here.)

Images via Candidate Facebook Pages

Following Congressman Ed Whitfield’s resignation this week, both the Democratic and Republican candidates for his 1st District seat praised the lawmaker’s 22 years in Washington.

Whitfield announced his retirement nearly a year ago, but submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Matt Bevin this week, effective September 6.

Republican nominee James Comer says Whitfield’s move presents a unique opportunity for the winner of the coming special election, assuming they also win the general election.

“I feel like he’s resigned to help the next Congressman gain seniority, so I think that was a very noble thing for him to do and I appreciate it and hopefully I can win the election and gain some badly needed seniority right off the bat," Comer said.

Paul and Gray campaigns

A new political action committee is hoping to boost the chances of Kentucky Democrats winning the state’s U.S. Senate race this November.

Kentucky Moving Forward is a Super PAC that will raise money for a media campaign aimed at helping Lexington Mayor Jim Gray defeat Republican Rand Paul.

The Super PAC’s spokesman, Jared Smith, wouldn’t say how much money it has on hand or plans to raise. “I’m not really ready to get into budget requirements and how much we’re going to spend. I can just tell you we’re going to have a very healthy paid media campaign statewide across Kentucky that includes TV ads.”

Smith said the Kentucky Senate race is currently the group’s sole focus.

"Almost positive this is the only race that we will play in this year. Kentucky Moving Forward does expect to be around in other races to come down the line."

Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

Donald Trump has provided the political world with many moving moments over the past year, but none quite like the whiplash mood swing between his daytime and nighttime performances in Mexico City and Phoenix on Wednesday.

In the daylight hours, Trump struck his most presidential pose to date with a solemn (if somewhat grumpy) reading of prepared remarks at a news conference alongside Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto. That somber event, inside the Mexican presidential residence, epitomized the more moderate image Trump has pursued on immigration issues over the past ten days.

But as night fell in Phoenix, back in the U.S.A., Trump mounted the stage in prime time and quickly caught fire. He poured forth an hour-long harangue against all things alien, highlighting the lurid crimes of a handful of illegal immigrants as if to define the character of millions. He also promised to build "a beautiful wall" across the entire U.S.-Mexico border and create a "deportation task force" that would eventually guarantee that "the bad ones are gone."

Read: NPR Fact Checks Donald Trump's Speech on Immigration

On the subject of the wall, Trump departed from his script to assure his listeners that Mexico would indeed pay for it – adding, "They may not know it yet, but they will." In so doing, he as much as acknowledged that Peña Nieto had told him something different earlier in the day.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Hours before he is slated to make a major policy speech on immigration Wednesday in Phoenix, Donald Trump is making a bold move — he will be meeting with Mexico's president.

He tweeted the news late Tuesday night:

"I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Peña Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow."

The Washington Post first reported that Trump was considering the move and could be flying to Mexico City to meet with Peña Nieto:

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Donald Trump will give a speech Wednesday outlining his immigration stance. Given the last week of news coverage, he could have some serious explaining to do.

An immigration policy centered around extreme positions — mass deportation of 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, plus building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — initially helped Trump stand out in the massive Republican primary field.

So it was a surprise when, last week, the Trump campaign seemed to change direction, indicating that he was open to "softening" his immigration position, and even at one point that he might be open to a path to legalization for some of those immigrants. Here's a quick rundown of some of the things the campaign has said about immigration in the past week.

Aug. 20 — Members of Donald Trump's Hispanic advisory council said Trump was open to relaxing his immigration stance, Buzzfeed reports. Trump said his solution for how to deal with 11 million people in the country illegally "must be something that respects border security but deals with this in a humane and efficient manner," according to immigration attorney Jacob Monty, who attended the meeting. The Trump campaign later released a statement dismissing the Buzzfeed report, saying that Trump's position had not changed.

J. Tyler Franklin

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell says the state legislature needs to approve a handful of conservative priorities to make Kentucky’s economy competitive with surrounding states.

The list includes repealing the prevailing wage, passing so-called “right-to-work” legislation, allowing charter schools to open in Kentucky and requiring medical malpractice claims to be reviewed by a panel before they can be sent on to court.

The priorities have long been in the sights of Republicans in the state but haven’t passed the legislature, where the Democratic-led House of Representatives has declined to take up the measures.

When asked how his congressional colleagues view Kentucky, McConnell said, “it’s a great place for the Kentucky Derby, but you’re not terribly competitive from a business view.” The Senate Majority Leader made the remarks at a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce forum in Louisville on Monday.

House Republicans to Skip Tuesday Meeting on Pensions

Aug 29, 2016
Kentucky LRC

House Republicans say they will not attend a special meeting called by Democratic Speaker Greg Stumbo.

The Kentucky House of Representatives adjourned for the year in May. They are not scheduled to reconvene again until January. But last week, Stumbo announced a special meeting of all House members on Tuesday to discuss the state's public pension crisis.

Monday, House Republican leader Jeff Hoover sent Stumbo a letter blaming him for the pension problem. Hoover accused Stumbo of scheduling the meeting on the same day as a nearby Democratic fundraiser, ensuring members would have their expenses covered.

Legislators get $188.22 for each day they work. Stumbo said lawmakers who attend the meeting will be paid.

Stumbo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kentucky LRC

A second Democratic state lawmaker now says Kentucky’s Republican governor asked him to switch parties.

Representative Russ Meyer says when he refused, he was threatened with political retaliation by Governor Bevin’s chief of staff.

Meyer, a Democratic House member from Nicholasville, says Bevin and his chief of staff, Blake Brickman, asked him to become a Republican shortly after Bevin was sworn into office. The alleged request came at a time when the GOP was hoping to win control of the Kentucky House.

Meyer told the CNHI news service that he informed Bevin he wouldn’t switch parties, and that the Governor responded politely. But Meyer says Brickman threatened to pull state-funding from projects in Meyer’s district, and called the Democrat an “Obama-loving baby killer.”

Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

Donald Trump returned to Iowa Saturday where the race between him and Hillary Clinton remains very close. Trump was there for Iowa freshman Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride fundraiser, which features a motorcycle ride and barbeque.

Sen. Joni Ernst led the group of more than 400 riders on a 42-mile trip that started at a Harley Davidson dealer in Des Moines and ended on the Iowa State fairgrounds. Trump did not participate in the ride.

Beth Smith did. She's a small business owner in the central Iowa town of Melbourne. She and her husband Dan caucused for Trump in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses. While many Republican leaders in other states are distancing themselves from Trump, Smith says she's glad Iowa leaders like Sen. Ernst are supporting him.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Reports out Thursday night reveal yet another principal of the Trump campaign in trouble.

Newly appointed CEO Stephen K. Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, was charged in 1996 with domestic violence against his second wife, several news outlets reported. The charges were eventually dropped, and Bannon pleaded "not guilty."

The New York Times noted that, according to the police report of the incident, there were "allegations that he threatened his then wife, the accuser, with retribution if she testified in the criminal case. ... "

The New York Post first reported the news. NPR has not independently confirmed the charges, but Politico posted the full police report here.

Here's part of Politico's write-up:

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has not held a single press conference since the start of 2016, triggering charges that she's trying to duck questions from reporters on the campaign trail.

Clinton and her senior campaign aides say that's absurd. They have pointed repeatedly to what they call the swiftly growing number of interviews she has granted. In late May, for example, Clinton told CNN's Jake Tapper she had already done nearly 300 interviews. Last Sunday, campaign manager Robbie Mook told CBS's John Dickerson, "She's been in more than 300 interviews with reporters this year alone."

A review by NPR of those numbers suggests those claims by the campaign were at once true and somewhat misleading — some were conducted by unlikely questioners and overall she favored local radio and national TV hits over granting interviews with national reporters covering her on the campaign trail and with print publications.

In preparing an earlier story on Clinton's lack of press conferences, NPR set out to secure a tally of all those interviews from the campaign, as other database searches proved incomplete. In early August, the Clinton campaign agreed to share a tally of all of its interviews from the start of the year through the end of July. NPR sifted through the list, made minor corrections after conferring with the campaign, and analyzed the results.

Gerald Herbert/AP

After signaling that his position on immigration is "to be determined" and that it could "soften," Donald Trump did an amazing thing — what amounts to almost a full about-face on the principal issue that has driven his campaign.

Trump indicated in a town hall with Fox News' Sean Hannity, which aired Wednesday night, that he would be in favor of a path to legalization for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

"No citizenship," he said. But he added, "Let me go a step further — they'll pay back-taxes; they have to pay taxes; there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them."

He continued: "Now, everybody agrees we get the bad ones out. But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I've had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me, and they've said, 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,' I have it all the time! It's a very, very hard thing."