4:25 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Comer Introduces Running Mate In Kentucky Gubernatorial Campaign Kick-Off

James Comer (left) and Sen. Chris McDaniel (right)
Credit Jonathan Meador

Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and his running mate, State Senator Chris McDaniel, are framing their 2015 gubernatorial campaign around both conservative and liberal-leaning agenda items.

Following a campaign kick-off Tuesday before about 2,000 people, Comer and McDaniel discussed their support for right-to-work laws and lower corporate tax rates. They also offered ideas to create an earned income tax credit for working-class families and rescinding tax incentives for businesses that don’t pay employees a living wage.

But Comer told reporters that there’s a difference between his party and the Democrats, which control the state House.

“Democrats think that by simply raising the minimum wage, they’re going to stimulate the economy. The Republicans want to create a business-friendly environment," Comer said.

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1:59 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Westerfield and Tilley Among Lawmakers Crafting Bipartisan Bill Addressing Heroin

Despite a failed bid in 2014, lawmakers are likely to introduce anti-heroin legislation during the 2015 General Assembly.

A state Senator and Representative from Hopkinsville are among a small group of lawmakers working to craft new legislation aimed at curbing the state’s rising problem with heroin.

Senate Judiciary Chair Whitney Westerfield and House Judiciary Chair John Tilley are helping to create a bill they hope can pass the 2015 General Assembly. A bill introduced in this year’s session failed because of concerns over a part of the measure that would have allowed prosecutors to charge heroin traffickers with homicide if someone they sold to died from an overdose.

Speaking to CN2’s Pure Politics, Senator Westerfield said a bipartisan group from both the House and Senate believes something needs to be done to strengthen the state’s heroin laws. The Christian County Republican says he wants to see a bill that cracks down on dealers while also increasing treatment options for addicts.

A recent report from Kentucky’s Office of Drug Control Policy showed deaths caused by heroin increased by more than 12 percent in 2013.

11:00 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Comer Hosts Rally in Monroe County in Support of Gubernatorial Bid

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate James Comer

 Update: 12:50 p.m. 

James Comer has selected Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel as his running mate. McDaniel's Northern Kentucky district covers part of Kenton County.

Original Post:

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner will go home to formally kick off his 2015 campaign for governor.  James Comer will roll out his campaign and announce a running mate Tuesday in his native Monroe County.

"I want to be a governor for all Kentuckians and there are so many parts of this state that are forgotten about by Frankfort," Comer told WKU Public Radio.  "I'm proud of Tompkinsville, I'm proud to be from a small town,  and I'm proud of my friends and family.  I think if you want to know something about a candidate, go to their hometown and see the people they grew up with, their former teachers, friends, classmates, and business partners, and ask 'What kind of guy is this?'"

Comer served as a state representative for 11 years before being elected Agriculture Commissioner in 2012.  Many of the reforms he brought to the troubled Agriculture Department will be part of his gubernatorial platform.

Comer announced last month that he was running for Governor, and is joined by fellow Republican Hal Heiner and Democrat Jack Conway as candidates who have formally announced gubernatorial intentions.

Warren County Republican Party Chairman Scott Lasley says Comer’s time as Agriculture Commissioner gave him the opportunity to travel the state and build up contacts that could benefit him during his run for governor.

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4:10 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Rand Paul Headlining Two Events This Week in New Hampshire

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky
Credit WKU PBS

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has several appearances in New Hampshire this week—appearances  that are likely to further the impression that the Bowling Green Republican is planning to run for the White House.

Sen. Paul is scheduled to speak at an event Thursday in Manchester, New Hampshire, that is hosted by Generation Opportunity, a libertarian-leaning youth group the website Politico says has ties to the Koch brothers.

On Friday, Paul will headline the New Hampshire Republican Party’s Breakfast in the Granite State,  a unity event following Tuesday’s state primary.

New Hampshire, of course, is one of a handful of early caucus and primary states that plays an outsized role in U.S. Presidential elections. Paul’s brand of libertarianism has many fans among Granite State Republicans, who are known for their independent streak.

Paul has said he will announce in early 2015 whether or not he is running for the White House in 2016.

8:30 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Politico: Rand Paul is America's Most Interesting Man (In Politics)

In a ranking of the Politico 50, the online political magazine says Kentucky's junior U.S. Senator--and possible 2016 presidential candidate--is scrambling the way we think about terms like "conservative."
A civil liberties-loving peacenik with millennial appeal? Who's willing to show up even at a midsummer NAACP convention to talk to a near-empty room? There's no doubt Rand Paul is turning out to be a different kind of Republican, bringing libertarian-and contrarian-ideas to the national stage in a novel and calculated blurring of Washington's otherwise rigid ideological battle lines.
5:00 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Ford to Celebrate 90th Birthday with Exhibit Opening

A view inside the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center in Owensboro.
Credit Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center

Former U.S. Senator Wendell Ford turns 90 years old Monday, and to celebrate, the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center in Owensboro will unveil a new exhibit called “Cracking the Whip.” 

Ford Center Director Bruce Kunze says the exhibit focuses on the time Ford spent as whip of the U.S. Senate during the 1990s.

"It goes through the brief history of the whip's position and how Senator Ford was elected to that position unopposed," Kunze told WKU Public Radio.  "It also talks about how he operated as a senator and how skilled he was at the art of compromise and at working with both parties."

Ford, who has been undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, is scheduled to attend the exhibit’s opening Monday evening.

The Ford Center in the Owensboro Museum of Science and History opened in 1999, the year he retired from the Senate.

2:06 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Beshear Extends Smoking Ban to All State Property

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has banned all tobacco products from most state buildings and grounds in an attempt to create momentum for a statewide smoking ban when lawmakers return in January.

Kentucky's state buildings are already smoke-free. But this new policy, effective Nov. 20, bans all tobacco products, including chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes, from state property both indoors and outdoors. The governor's office says it will impact visitors and 33,000 employees in 2,888 state buildings across Kentucky.

Beshear said he made the decision because Kentucky has one of the highest smoking rates in the country leading to nearly 8,000 tobacco-related deaths each year. But the ban exempts outdoor state parks and other tourist areas because Beshear said he did not want to put the state at a competitive disadvantage for tourism dollars.

4:52 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

New Polls Show McConnell Holding On To Slim Lead

Credit Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

Two polls show Mitch McConnell with a lead over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky U.S. Senate race. 

A Rasmussen survey conducted last week shows McConnell with a 46-41 lead over Grimes among likely voters.  In May, the incumbent Republican had a slightly larger, seven-percentage point lead.  The two candidates were tied according to Rasmussen in January. The survey has a margin of error of plus-or-minus four percentage points.

Meantime, a new CNN poll has McConnell up four points over Grimes, which falls within the survey’s margin of error. Fifty-percent of poll respondents said they would support Sen. McConnell, with 46 percent backing Grimes. That survey also shows 16 percent of Democrats said they were either supporting or leading towards supporting McConnell.

Despite trailing in the polls overall, Grimes has big leads over McConnell in the state’s urban areas, including a 27-point-lead in the Louisville region.

11:34 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Right-to-Work Legislation Central to Kentucky House GOP Agenda

Left to right: State Representative Michael Meredith, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, and State Representative Jim DeCesare appear in Bowling Green to introduce priorities if Republicans win control of the Kentucky House in November.
Credit Lisa Autry

Republicans in the Kentucky House are aiming to end the nearly 100-year reign of Democrats this November. 

As part of that effort, GOP leaders are talking up the legislative agenda they plan to pursue should the party pick up enough seats to take control of the state House. 

Currently, Democrats hold a narrow eight-seat edge over the GOP.  Republicans would need a net gain of five seats to take the majority. 

The number one focus of what Republicans are calling their "Handshake with Kentucky" will be jobs and the economy. 

At a stop in Bowling Green Wednesday, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover vowed to make Kentucky more business friendly by passing right-to-work legislation.

"Right-to-work may be the single most important thing we can do to open Kentucky for business and create new private sector jobs," stated Hoover. 

According to a Bluegrass poll released last week, a majority of Kentuckians support right-to-work legislation that would give workers the freedom to decide whether or not to join a union. 

Meanwhile, the head of a major labor organization in Kentucky says the plan championed by Kentucky House Republicans is a "bad faith deal" that puts corporate interests ahead of the state's workers. 

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8:18 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Kentucky House Democrats Have Large Fundraising Lead

The Kentucky state capitol building in Frankfort
Credit Kentucky LRC

Kentucky House Democrats have a wide margin in fundraising as they seek to defend their chamber from a Republican takeover bid this November.

The Kentucky Democratic House Caucus Campaign Committee has about $286,000 in cash on hand—much more than the House GOP's $86,000, according to data from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

The money will be crucial to both parties: for Democrats, to maintain a narrow eight-seat majority in the legislature’s lower chamber; for Republicans, to target vulnerable districts in an attempt to end nearly a century of Democratic House control.

But the money raised and spent by those committees on this fall’s House races isn’t the end-all, be-all in fundraising. Thanks to recent Supreme Court rulings, several outside groups are targeting the Kentucky House, many of them aligned with Republican interests.

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