Libertarian David Patterson has announced his intention to run against incumbent Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.
The 42-year old Harrodsburg police officer said in a statement that he's making the bid to unseat McConnell because voters are looking for an alternative.
Ken Moellman, chairman of the Libertarian Party's state executive committee, said he's pleased Patterson wanted to get into the race. Patterson will seek the party's nomination in an internal primary on March 1.
McConnell is seeking a sixth term in office in next year's election. His chief rival is Democratic secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes. Republican Matt Bevin is challenging McConnell in next spring's primary.
As new voter ID laws take effect across the county, U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is maintaining his position that asking voters to produce identification before casting their ballot has no racial overtones. Paul told WKU Public Radio that voter ID provisions are needed to combat voter fraud and not doing so is a disservice to those who fought for the right to vote.
"Forty, 50 years ago when people were fighting for the right to vote, there were people beaten with clubs, there were people who fought for the Voting Rights Act, and at that time, African Americans weren't voting and weren't allowed to vote," said the Bowling Green Republican.
More states are enacting voter ID laws since the U.S. Supreme Court in June gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that gave the federal government oversight of states with a history of voter discrimination. Sen. Paul says he hasn't seen any evidence that minorities are facing obstacles in voting. In fact, he says in the last election, African Americans voted at a higher percentage than White Americans in states that were under special provisions of the federal government.
His comments come as he urges the GOP to do more to attract minorities, and as opponents of the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act point to various voter ID laws they say are designed to discourage election day turnout in minority communities.
A Butler County state Representative says he's strongly considering a run for a Senate seat following today's signing of new redistricting maps. The newly drawn boundaries place Morgantown Republican C.B. Embry, Jr., in the same district as Warren County Republican Jim DeCesare.
Embry gave his reaction to WKU Public Radio earlier Friday afternoon.
"Now I'm not fixing to announce or anything, but I'm leaning toward running for the sixth Senatorial district next year. That would be Butler, Ohio, Muhlenberg, and Hopkins counties," said Embry.
The sixth Kentucky Senate district is currently represented by Madisonville Democrat Jerry Rhoads. Embry admits it would be a tough challenge to take on Rhoads, given that the voter registration in the sixth Senate district is majority Democratic.
Warren County Representative Jim DeCesare told WKU Public Radio today that he plans to run for the 17th District House seat.
**UPDATE: Gov. Steve Beshear has signed new legislative maps into law. The Kentucky House voted 79-18 to approve new redistricting maps. It follows a 35-2 approval by the Senate earlier Friday morning. The bill took five days during a special session to pass.
A legislative redistricting bill that steamrolled through the House is scheduled for a Senate vote Friday morning.
Gov. Steve Beshear said he stands ready to sign the measure into law on Friday, after lawmakers finish up their work of redrawing boundary lines around House and Senate districts.
The Senate State and Local Government Committee unanimously approved the proposal Thursday.
Redistricting is undertaken every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate to comply with the federal and state "one person, one vote" mandate. The state's overall population rose from 4 million to 4.3 million while shifting largely from rural communities to urban areas.
Kentucky House lawmakers would have to undergo annual sexual harassment sensitivity training under a resolution approved Thursday after three legislative staffers filed sexual harassment complaints with the Legislative Ethics Commission.
The allegations against Democratic state representative John Arnold of Sturgis triggered a public outcry, forcing House Speaker Greg Stumbo to address the matter on the floor Thursday evening. He assured angry colleagues the matter "will be dealt with responsibly" and that Arnold could be expelled from the House if the charges are proven to be true.
Arnold, who represents parts of Union, Daviess and Henderson counties. refused to answer questions about the allegations Wednesday and was absent from the legislature on Thursday.
In the complaints, first reported by Louisville public radio station WFPL-FM, the staffers alleged that Arnold had touched them inappropriately and had made vulgar comments over a period of years.