Political news

On Saturday, members of the Kentucky Republican Party met in Lexington for a “unity rally” to show support for their slate of candidates for statewide public office. None of the former Republican candidates for governor showed up.

The rally was requested in April by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul and most of Kentucky’s Republican congressional delegation—who had asked Republican candidates for governor to unite around the ultimate nominee.

Matt Bevin became the nominee after beating out Agriculture Commissioner James Comer by just 83 votes in the primary election.

However, former candidates Comer, Hal Heiner and Will T. Scott did not attend the event and McConnell backed out in order to prepare for a last-minute debate on the expiration of the Patriot Act in Washington.
Sen. Paul did show up and provided his endorsement, saying, “And I’ve told Matt that I will do everything humanly possible in between a few other things to try to help him win and I mean that.”

Using humor to try and tamp down rumors of bad blood with McConnell, Bevin presented a tongue-in-cheek video in which he got a “Team Mitch” tattoo. The six-term senator handily beat Bevin in a U.S. Senate Primary last year.

Several post-Sept. 11 anti-terror provisions have lapsed after the Senate failed to extend them before the deadline at midnight.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is running for president, took credit for the outcome as he used Senate rules to slow action.

The expiration may be only temporary. The Senate now looks ready to accept a House-passed bill that extends the measures and remakes the National Security Agency's controversial bulk phone collections program.

Following Thursday state-wide recanvass of votes that showed Louisville businessman Matt Bevin still leading Comer by 83 votes, Comer e-mailed the following statement just before 8:00 a.m. Central time Friday morning.

“Within minutes of receiving the results of the recanvass, I called Matt Bevin to concede and congratulate him on a hard fought victory. I asked Matt to afford me the opportunity to personally contact a few of my strongest supporters across the state to again thank them for their support and tell them about my concession. I promised Matt that I would release my statement prior to his Friday morning press conference with the Republican down ballot candidates.

Throughout the entire primary campaign, I grew to appreciate Matt Bevin’s knowledge of the issues, his work ethic, and his morals. Matt ran a clean campaign which focused on the issues important to Kentuckians. Matt Bevin will stand up to the special interest groups that have held our great state back and fight the corrupt elements that still exist in Frankfort. I enthusiastically endorse Matt Bevin for Governor and pledge to do everything I can to see that he wins in November.” 

Comer had until the close of business Friday to call for a full re-count of the votes from last week's gubernatorial primary but that was seen as politically divisive within the Kentucky Republican party and also very expensive; some estimates were as high as $300,000.

Comer's concession sets up a race between Bevin and Kentucky Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in a rare off-year election that serves as a precursor to the 2016 Presidential contest.

The state board of elections won't officially certify the results of the race until June 8th.

Office of Lt. Gov.

Kentucky’s highest female office-holder is hoping more women will become political candidates.

Lieutenant Governor Crit Luallen, speaking to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday,  said a recent study showing Kentucky near the bottom of the nation in the number of women office holders is proof there’s a problem.

The report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranks Kentucky 46th in the nation when it comes to the number of females holding elected office.

“I think women have to work harder to prove themselves. I think often they are considered not to have the strength that a man has, or the power that a man has. And the truth is women are doing everyday an incredibly courageous job of balancing complicated lives and careers.”

Despite her concerns, Luallen said she believes an increasing number of younger women in Kentucky are beginning to believe they can succeed at all aspects of running for office.

“They can raise money successfully, they can convince people to support them—it’s a very, very achievable goal to run for office as a woman.”

No other candidates have requested a review of Kentucky's primary election results.

Tuesday was the last day candidates could ask the secretary of state to review the voting machines and absentee ballots in all of Kentucky's 120 counties. A competitive Republican primary yielded two such challenges, one for governor and the other for agriculture commissioner.

Matt Bevin leads James Comer by 83 votes in a race for the Republican nomination for governor that was too close to call on election night. Comer has not conceded and asked for a review the next day.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky Republicans waiting to see U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell put his arm around his political nemesis Matt Bevin will have to wait a little longer.

Bevin canceled an appearance at the Elizabethtown Rotary Club on Tuesday where McConnell, the Senate majority leader, was the scheduled speaker. And McConnell has said he will not attend the state Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner on Saturday when Bevin will be the featured speaker.

The absences seem to highlight a tense relationship between the state's senior senator and its likely Republican nominee for governor one year after McConnell defeated Bevin in the Senate primary.

A spokesman for Bevin said a scheduling conflict forced him to change his schedule. McConnell said he has to return to Washington on Saturday to prepare for a rare Sunday session to vote on the Patriot Act. Mitch McConnell says he expects to maintain but not grow the U.S. Senate's Republican majority next year.

The Kentucky Republican Party’s website is back up and running after an anonymous group of hackers seized control of it over the weekend. 

The website was hacked by AnonCoders on Sunday and it remained down until Tuesday morning.  An online search of AnonCoders only yielded a Facebook page, which gave little information about the group. 

According to Wikipedia, AnonCoders was created in January and "mostly targets Israeli websites in protest of crimes allegedly committed against the Palestinian people on behalf of Israel."

The reason for the attack on the Kentucky Republican Party website is unknown.  State GOP Chairman Steve Robertson told CN-2’s Pure Politics he doesn’t believe any donor information was compromised since that information is stored on a separate server.

Kentucky earns a “D” grade for political participation among women in a recently released report, but the state’s overall results show a complex landscape.

Kentucky ranks 46th out of 50 states for its number of women holding elected office in the state, according to the Status of Women report released by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

But women in the state take advantage of voting rights more than men, the study said.

Republican state Sen. Brandon Smith has been acquitted of driving under the influence of alcohol.

A Franklin County jury took 10 minutes to acquit the Hazard republican on Tuesday following a day-long trial. They did convict him of speeding and fined him $40.

Smith was arrested Jan. 6, the first day of the 2015 legislative session. A state trooper testified Smith smelled of alcohol and that he failed two field sobriety tests. Smith refused to take a breath test.

Smith's defense attorneys played security camera footage from the jail, showing the jury Smith walked without assistance. A convenience store clerk testified that Smith did not appear intoxicated earlier that night.

Smith's attorneys argued earlier this year the charges should be dropped because the state constitution says lawmakers cannot be arrested while the legislature is in session. They later withdrew that request.

Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer has formally requested a recanvass of the voting machines and absentee ballots from Tuesday’s primary election. The initial results suggest Comer lost to opponent Matt Bevin by only 83 votes.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has set May 28 as the day county boards of election will recheck and recanvass the voting machines.

A recanvass is administrative procedure where precincts around the state re-tabulate their results and send them to the Secretary of State.  The process usually doesn’t yield many more votes—in 2010 Andy Barr requested a recanvass in his attempt to unseat Ben Chandler from his Congressional seat. Barr was down by about fewer than 700 votes and the recanvass yielded only one additional vote.

Still, University of Kentucky election law professor Josh Douglas says that the recanvass could help Comer decide if he wants to pursue a full-fledged recount.

“As long as Bevin’s lead doesn’t increase, if it stays at 83, it won’t surprise me if Comer requests the recount," Douglas states.

Douglas says that a formal recount could show a swing of around 200 votes—well outside the margin of Bevin’s lead.

Comer’s lawyers will be taking an especially close look at the two-thirds of Kentucky counties that use paper ballots and also scrutinizing voter eligibility.