Elections

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"This is the way the world ends," mused the poet T.S. Eliot, "not with a bang but a whimper." It may be said that the world of 2016 presidential nominating contests is ending with a bit of a bang and a whimper.

Six states held primaries or caucuses on the last big Tuesday (only the District of Columbia remains to vote on June 14), and the results closed out the season with an exclamation point and a question mark — for each of the remaining three candidates.

On the most obvious plane, it was Hillary Clinton's night. She became the first woman to be the presumptive presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party.

"We've reached a milestone," said Clinton, recalling how her mother was born on the day in 1919 when Congress approved the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was ratified by the states the following year, granting women the right to vote.

"Tonight's victory," said Clinton, "belongs to generations of women."

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The primary season isn't quite wrapped yet (six states hold Democratic contests Tuesday), but Hillary Clinton has now secured the number of delegates needed (2,383) to become the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee.

Speaking Monday night, Clinton said, "according to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment. But we still have work to do, don't we?"

It wasn't easy for Clinton to emerge from this campaign season victorious — she got there by applying lessons from her failed 2008 bid and forming strong alliances with Democrats, President Obama and voters of color. And by surviving an epic 11-hour congressional hearing.

Here's a look back at the Democratic primary and 10 steps Clinton took to climb to the nomination:

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This election has brought a bitter primary season: candidates at each other's throats; a Democratic Party in crisis. But it's nothing new.

Eight years ago, the Democratic Party was recovering after a brutal primary between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Now, the party has found itself in a similar place.

This week on For the Record: Lessons learned from the 2008 Democratic primary, with two political operatives who lived through it.

Back then, Mo Elleithee and Bill Burton were each fighting for a potentially historic win in camps that got increasingly competitive.

David Goldman/AP

One way we know we are (finally) nearing the end of this presidential nominating season is that both major parties have begun talking about big changes to the way they choose their nominees.

Both parties have been stunned by outsider candidates in this cycle. But the shock seems to be moving them in opposite directions. That may be because one party's outsider has actually won the nomination while the other's is falling short.

Some in the GOP are distressed at Donald Trump's taking over, and they want to restore more party control. The changes they contemplate might alter the sequence of voting events or limit independents' participation in the primaries.

The feelings are quite the reverse these days among Democrats. Although Hillary Clinton, the establishment favorite, seems assured of the nomination, she and other party leaders have been stung by runner-up Bernie Sanders' frequent and vociferous accusations of a "rigged system."

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump now has the support of 1,238 delegates — just a hair above the 1,237 threshold needed to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, according to The Associated Press.

Trump was able to reach that number Thursday after 29 unbound Republican delegates told the AP that they would support him at the party's July convention. Fifteen of those unbound delegates came from North Dakota, seven from Pennsylvania, two each from West Virginia and Nevada and one each from Colorado, New Hampshire and Oklahoma (the unbound delegate who announced her support for Trump in this state is GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard).

Most Republican delegates are bound by the results of their states' presidential primary elections but as many as 200 are not bound by those rules.

Five states including California vote on June 7 with more than 300 delegates at stake. As the sole candidate left running on the GOP side, Trump will easily add to his slim delegate edge on that day.

Trump is now the Republican Party's presumptive nominee; he won't be the official nominee until the July convention in Cleveland when delegates vote. But Trump reaching the magic number caps the businessman's unlikely presidential run and rise and avoids further talk of a possible contested GOP convention.

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There are 65 contested races in the Kentucky House of Representatives this year, and the political stakes are high.

Republicans are once again angling to take control of the chamber, which happens to be the last legislative body controlled by Democrats in the South. Democrats control the House with a 53-47 margin.

Al Cross, a Courier-Journal columnist and director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, said they have an uphill battle.

“The Democrats will have little money to put into these races,” Cross said. “The party is not in good financial shape, it doesn’t have a good way to raise money because it lacks power.”

Democrats have enjoyed governors’ ability to headline fundraisers that benefit the state party or local campaigns for 39 of the last 43 years. Now Bevin has the mantle.

Jae C. Hong/AP

Bernie Sanders' campaign has requested a "recanvass" of voting in the Kentucky primary — not a "recount."

They are not the same.

What's the difference?

As NPR's Asma Khalid noted on air — a recanvass will "entail checking all of the voting machines and absentee ballots in all each of the state's counties to verify the accuracy of the vote totals."

In other words, individual ballots will not be checked. A recount would have re-checked how people voted on actual ballots.

Hillary Clinton leads Sanders by less than 2,000 votes following the May 17 primary.

LRC Public Information

Two longtime state representatives were defeated in yesterday’s primary election, and a newcomer defeated a longtime Louisville Metro Councilman in another state House race.

Rep. Tom Riner, a Democrat from Louisville, was ousted by former Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott, who criticized the 35-year incumbent for not being a “real Democrat.”

“The vote tonight says to me that District 41, which is 62 percent women, want a woman to represent them in Frankfort,” Scott said in a phone interview with WFPL.

Scott has no Republican challengers in the general election. She is the first African-American woman elected to the General Assembly since Eleanor Jordan, who left office in 2000.

“For them to elect me as the first black woman in Frankfort in nearly 20 years also says that people realize that this is the 21st Century, and it’s time to move forward and move forward together,” Scott said.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

In what appears to be a photo finish, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has unofficially won Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary. The race was so close that Clinton will split the state’s 55 delegates with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Although the Associated Press said the race was “too close to call” as of early Wednesday morning, state election officials say all counties have reported completely.

Clinton took 46.76 percent of the vote with 212,550 votes, while Sanders took 46.33 percent with 210,626 votes.

Sanders swept coal country in Eastern Kentucky by wide margins, but Clinton took the populous metropolitan areas of Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky.

With another state in the win column, Clinton would stymie some of Sanders’ momentum late in the primary season. Sanders has won seven of the previous 12 primary contests despite trailing in the delegate count with a narrow path to victory.

James Comer Wins 1st U.S. House District GOP Primary

May 17, 2016
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James Comer has won the Republican nomination in Kentucky 1st Congressional District one year after a heartbreakingly close loss in the GOP primary for governor.

Comer wants to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, who has held the seat since 1995. He defeated Michael Pape, Whitfield's district director for two decades, and Hickman County Attorney Jason Batts. Miles A. Caughey Jr. finished fourth.

After losing the nomination for governor by just 83 votes last year, Comer said he planned to return to his farm in Tompkinsville. But when Whitfield announced his retirement, it was an opportunity for Comer to capitalize on his immense popularity in the 1st District.

Comer will face Democrat Sam Gaskins in the November election.

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.

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