politics

With the Iowa caucuses in the books, the focus of the political world has shifted to the first-in-the-nation-primary state, New Hampshire. New Hampshire voters, with their contrarian reputation, head to the polls Tuesday. Expect the unexpected.

Here are five things to know about how it all works:

1. Voting is straightforward

Powers Remembered as Kentucky Political Trailblazer

Feb 6, 2016
Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

Georgia Davis Powers' funeral turned into a celebration of a life that broke down barriers as a civil-rights icon and the first African-American woman elected to the Kentucky Senate.

The Courier-Journal reports the celebration Friday in Louisville included the reading of a letter from President Barack Obama and remembrances from religious leaders.

Powers died last Saturday at the age of 92.

Among those attending were U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

She helped organize civil rights marches in Kentucky, including the 1964 march in Frankfort to bring attention to the need for a law prohibiting discrimination in housing.

Powers served 21 years in the state Senate, fighting for African-Americans, women, the poor, the disabled, the disenfranchised.

LRC Public Information

A bill that would eliminate the prevailing wage on public school projects on Thursday failed to pass a House committee.

The prevailing wage is the pay rate for construction workers on public works projects and is set by the state Labor Cabinet.

State Rep. Regina Bunch, a Republican from Williamsburg, argued that the wage is artificially high and drives up costs in public school budgets.

“To me it is simply just bad public policy for government to assist any group and guarantee wages and stifle competition,” Bunch said

Republicans in the state legislature have for years proposed bills to repealing parts or all of the prevailing wage.

U.S. Congress

Former U.S. Sen. Marlow Cook of Kentucky, a moderate Republican and one of the first GOP senators to call for the resignation of Richard Nixon, has died at age 89.

Cook was part of a Republican resurgence in the 1960s, returning the GOP to the Jefferson County judge-executive office in 1961 and winning a Senate seat in 1968. He also influenced future Kentucky leaders; Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth interned for Cook in Jefferson County and served as an aide in his Senate office.

“I remember him not only as my first boss, but also as someone who directly and significantly shaped my life and the lives of so many in public life,” Yarmuth said.

Yarmuth later switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Another of Cook’s notable hires was Mitch McConnell, who chaired Cook’s youth campaign in Kentucky when he ran for U.S. Senate in 1968 and then worked as Cook’s aide until 1970. McConnell would follow Cook’s steps, serving as judge-executive and then in the Senate, where is the majority leader.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Kentucky’s March Republican presidential caucus won’t feature an active candidate from the Bluegrass State.

Senator Rand Paul announced Wednesday that he is ending his run for the White House.

The move came two days after Paul’s fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

“Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over,” Paul said in statement released to the media Wednesday morning. “I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term."

The Paul campaign helped convince the Kentucky Republican Party to hold a presidential caucus in March instead of its normal May primary, so that Paul could run for both the White House and re-election to the U.S. Senate.

NPR: Why Rand Paul Failed to Capture the Libertarian Movement

Paul’s exit from presidential contest a month before the Kentucky caucus will likely raise questions about the maneuver.

Abbey Oldham

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is suspending his presidential campaign.

The Bowling Green Republican released a statement to the media Wednesday morning announcing the move.

"Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over," Paul said in his statement. "I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term."

The decision comes two days after Paul finished a distant fifth in the Iowa GOP Caucus.

The Republican Party of Kentucky is holding a presidential caucus March 5 so that Paul could run for both the White House and another U.S. Senate term at the same time.

Paul's move to quit the presidential race means he can concentrate on his Senate re-election effort. He faces two little-known Republican primary challengers. Seven Democrats are running for the seat, including Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

Donald Trump thought he could upend Iowa caucus traditions. The gamble didn't pay off.

Hillary Clinton hoped she could wipe away her campaign nightmares of eight years ago by posting a solid win over an insurgent Bernie Sanders.

Instead, her margin of victory over Sanders was vanishingly small.

Those were just some of the surprise twists from Monday night's results. Here's what the numbers and results tell us about how and why they happened, according to our analysis of the entrance/exit polling and the county-by-county results.

In just over a month, Kentucky Republicans will hold a presidential caucus for the first time in more than three decades. Republicans in the past have joined Democrats in holding a May primary election for president. But this year is different.

Warren County Caucus Chairman David Graham spoke to WKU Public Radio about the differences between a caucus and primary.

Graham:  Caucuses can be very different, but in our case, it's going to be very much like a primary, only it will be at a different date, and it will be run by the party and not the county or state.  Our caucus will be March 5.  Most every county will have one voting location and voters can come in anytime between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and vote very much like they would in a normal primary.

Abbey Oldham

As U.S. Senator Rand Paul prepares for a Republican presidential debate Thursday night, a former Kentucky House Speaker says Democrats could benefit from Paul’s White House bid.

Glasgow attorney Bobby Richardson was a state Representative from 1972-1990, and served as House Speaker during the 1982 and 1984 General Assembly sessions.

Richardson says whoever emerges as the Democrat’s nominee for U.S. Senate should remind voters Paul is seeking two offices at the same time.

“I think he needs to say he’s running for the United States Senate, and I’m going to be a Senator. I’m not going to be running for President, and I’m not going to be running for anything else. I’m going to be there taking care of business.”

The Kentucky Republican Party is holding a presidential caucus March 5 so that Paul can run for re-election to the Senate and seek the White House simultaneously.

LRC Public Information

Kentucky voters have a clear idea of their options for state legislature this year.

The filing deadline for candidates to run as a Democrat or Republican in all 100 state House seats and half of the state Senate seats passed on Tuesday afternoon. The deadline has also passed to run in a special election in March for four vacant state House seats.

Since the GOP’s strong showing in statewide elections in November, Republicans have set their sights on taking the House, the last Democratic-controlled state legislative body in the South.

Democrats currently hold a 50-46 control of the House.

Here’s a rundown of the legislative elections.

The special elections for four vacant seats in the state House could have profound implications for the control and political makeup of the chamber.

The GOP at best even the House at 50-50 if Republicans with a sweep of the races, sending the House into uncharted territory in terms of who leads the chamber.

The winners of the elections will only hold the seat through the end of 2016. All 100 House seats will be up for grabs in the general election in November.

The special elections will take place on March 8 in the following districts:

Kentucky LRC

A top Democrat in the Kentucky House says he will not seek re-election.

Johnny Bell of Glasgow plans to retire from the General Assembly after eight years. 

The House Majority Whip says the political atmosphere in federal and state legislatures has changed, and it’s more about politics than about serving the people. The 50-year-old Bell serves Barren and a portion of Warren County. 

His announcement comes as Democrats hold a narrow 50-46 majority in the Kentucky House with four seats up for grabs in a special election March 8. 

Glasgow Attorney Danny Basil and City Councilman Joe Trigg, both Democrats, will run for Bell’s seat along with Republicans Freddie Joe Wilkerson and Steve Riley.

Tuesday is the filing deadline for candidates seeking office this year.

Kentucky LRC

On Monday, reporters huddled in the state Capitol waiting for a potentially big announcement. They were aware of rumors — incorrect ones, it would turn out — that multiple Democratic state House members had switched to the Republican side, changing the balance of power in the last Democratic-controlled legislative branch in the South.

That Kentucky political observers would even entertain the thought shows a palatable shift in the balance of power in a state where Democrats have a decades-long advantage in local politics.

Now, with an ascendant state GOP, the Kentucky Democratic Party is looking for a new leader.

Last weekend, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Patrick Hughes announced he was stepping down after less than a year on the job.

State Democrats are in a perilous position. As party leaders look to replace Hughes, they should have a couple of things in mind, political observers say.

On Tuesday night, President Obama will give his final State of the Union address. It's the last big speech many Americans will watch him deliver, and he wants to leave a good impression.

Here are five things to watch for.

1. How different will this speech be from his past State of the Union addresses?

Flickr/Creative Commons/Vox Efx

Voters taking part in Kentucky’s Republican presidential caucus in March might notice one big difference when they cast their ballots: campaign swag in the same room where they’re voting.

In typical Kentucky elections, as much as holding a campaign sign within 100 feet of a polling station is illegal. State law also prohibits people from distributing campaign literature or soliciting signatures and votes within that same distance of a voting location.

But the March 5 presidential caucus is no regular election run. Unlike typical Kentucky elections, local county clerks and state officials aren’t involved. The caucus will be made up of multiple private events held by the Republican Party of Kentucky, and the party gets to do things its way.

Republicans will choose candidates for the party’s presidential nomination at events organized by local county Republican parties. Material from the campaigns and the party will be among the first things voters see when they go to their caucus sites on March 5, RPK Executive Director Mike Biagi said.

Kevin Willis

Four special elections in March could alter the political landscape of Kentucky state government, furthering the Republican Party’s lunge for control of the state House.

The elections on March 8 will be for four state House seats in districts surrounding Hopkinsville, South Shore, Danville and Georgetown. The seats were vacated by two Republicans and two Democrats.

As the General Assembly’s 2016 legislative session begins today, Democrats hold 50 seats and Republicans hold 46. Republicans, who have not controlled the state House since the 1920s, could evenly divide the 100-member House with victories in the special elections.

All 100 seats are up for reelection in November.

Momentum is on the GOP’s side. In November, Bevin became just the second Republican governor in more than 40 years. Republicans also won the state auditor and treasurer posts from Democratic hands.

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