Political news

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway and Republican rival Matt Bevin once again clashed over the expansion of Kentucky's Medicaid system and state-run health exchange, Kynect at a debate held by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday in Louisville.

Bevin has pushed for dismantling Kynect and moving recipients onto the federal health exchange.

“We have a governor who has uncorked a disastrous package of cost on us that we’re going to have to deal with," Bevin stated.

Bevin has argued for the elimination of the state’s expansion of Medicaid, which makes eligible all Kentuckians with incomes at or below 138 percent of the poverty line, and scaling it back to pre-expansion levels.

Conway said if elected he would continue the expansion of Medicaid and state run exchange, saying Kentuckians get better rates through Kynect than on the federal exchange.

“It’s a cheaper, more efficient way to allow people to purchase health insurance,” Conway said.

Conway and Bevin also exchanged a few barbs during the debate—Bevin pointed out that Conway graduated from Kentucky basketball rival Duke University. Conway noted several times that Bevin was not born in Kentucky.

Wealthy libertarians are giving big to Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul.

Three super PACs supporting the Kentucky senator say they raised a combined $6 million through June 30.

That's on top of the $7 million Paul's campaign reported raising between his April announcement and the end of last month.

Super PACs have no limits on how much they can raise, but they cannot directly coordinate with the candidate they're helping.

Donors to the super PACs include Jeff Yass, a high-frequency trader and board member of the libertarian Cato Institute, and George Macricostas, head of a data center company called RagingWire.

Paul is one of the expected 17 major GOP candidates for president. The total raised by his campaign and allied groups puts him in the top six for fundraising.

Candidates for Kentucky governor squared off at a forum hosted by the Kentucky Farm Bureau Thursday, the first public appearance in which the two men directly responded to one another.

The most heated exchange occurred when Conway accused Bevin of wanting to kick 500,000 people off of health insurance, calling him “callous.”

“If we can’t afford something we can potentially scale back but I am not going to kick a half million people off of health insurance on day one," said Conway

Bevin said he wouldn’t kick people off insurance, but rather do away with the state-run health insurance exchange, Kynect, and move recipients onto the federal exchange. He also stated he would eliminate the state’s expansion of Medicaid.

More than 521,000 people signed up for Kynect in the first year of enrollment—and about two-thirds of those enrolled through the Medicaid expansion.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear plans to issue an executive order on Wednesday that confirms the state’s existing policy toward arming National Guard members. 

The order comes nearly a week after five servicemen were shot to death in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Through the executive order, Governor Beshear will reiterate that Kentucky already has security procedures in place to protect guard members at armories, recruiting stations, and training facilities. 

"We anticipated these kinds of possibilities, and some time ago, we already instituted the protections that states like Indiana and others just created," Beshear told WKU Public Radio.

Before the Chattanooga shootings, Kentucky already allowed Guard members to carry weapons while on duty with approval from their commanding officer.  In addition, Guard members are allowed to carry concealed weapons as long as they have a state permit. 

While Governor Beshear is confident of the measures already in place, his executive order instructs Kentucky’s adjutant general to take whatever steps he feels are needed to secure military facilities.

Abbey Oldham

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell will headline a Republican fundraising event in late August for gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin, who last year launched a primary challenge against the longtime senator.

The event will be hosted by Alliance Coal CEO Joe Craft and former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Knight, both of whom chaired the Kentucky fundraising committee for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

McConnell, Craft and Knight’s presence at the event shows a measure of unity among establishment Republicans, who some had speculated wouldn’t aid Bevin after last year’s contentious GOP Senate primary.

Bevin was the benefactor of infighting between two GOP establishment candidates during the primary. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Louisville businessman sparred during the race, which led to a narrow Bevin victory and speculations about a fractured Republican party.

But Bevin and McConnell have repeatedly assured Kentuckians that the GOP is united around Bevin, despite snubs between the two men after McConnell trounced Bevin in last year’s primary last year.

In an invitation sent out on Tuesday morning, attendees are asked to donate $1,000 to Bevin’s campaign for the general election as well as $1,000 for his primary campaign. According to June campaign finance records, Bevin still had almost $111,000 in outstanding debts for the primary, which was in May.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has announced that he will infuse the state’s rainy day fund with $82.5 million, raising the fund’s balance to $209.4 million, the highest it’s been since 2008.

The cash comes from $165.4 million in excess revenue generated in the last fiscal year. The rest of the surplus went to pay necessary government expenses like corrections, fire suppression and disasters.

Beshear applauded the state for increasing revenues “the old fashioned way” by growing the economy instead of raising taxes.

“Finishing this fiscal year with a significant surplus better positions our next governor to build on our successes in energizing our economy and improving life for our families for generations to come," Beshear stated in a news conference Tuesday.

Despite the state’s progress, Kentucky is still in the midst of a pension crisis in which the main retirement fund for state workers, Kentucky Retirement Systems, only has 22 percent of the money it needs to make future payments, and the teacher pension system is 54 percent unfunded.


U.S. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell says he will be at the Fancy Farm picnic next month.

Kentucky’s senior senator talked about the event during a stop in Bullitt County Monday.

McConnell said he plans to attend---and take part---in Kentucky’s biggest political event of the year.

"I'm looking forward to being there," McConnell commented.

Other years, he’s missed it, but McConnell explained that’s only when there isn’t a big state race in play that year.  This year, Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway are squaring off for the Governor’s office. So, McConnell says he will be making a speech at the picnic.

McConnell—who is one of the most prominent Republicans in the state and country—says he will also help craft the message for other members of his party making a speech that day.

"We are talking to other people that are participating and hope to make it interesting," McConnell added.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul recently announced he won’t attend Fancy Farm and will be campaigning for president in New Hampshire instead.

Indiana Attorney General Enters Congressional Race

Jul 20, 2015
Indiana Attorney General's Office

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is looking for a return to Washington by seeking the congressional seat that Republican U.S. Representative Todd Young is giving up to run for the U.S. Senate next year.

Zoeller announced Monday in Jeffersonville his bid for the 9th District congressional seat, joining two state senators in the race for the Republican nomination.

Zoeller says he has fought what he calls the overreach of the federal government during his two terms as state attorney general but that changes needed to come from Congress.

Zoeller was first elected state attorney general in 2008. He worked in Washington as an aide to Dan Quayle as senator and vice president.

State Senators Brent Waltz of Greenwood and Erin Houchin of Salem are the other hopefuls in the district.

Two state lawmakers have pre-filed legislation for the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly session that provides protections for anyone who removes a child from a locked car due to extreme heat. 

State Representative David Hale of Wellington says the legislation would treat people as Good Samaritans and give them civil immunity from damage done to a vehicle.

"In about the last 20 years, there's been over 700 children that have died in automobiles across the United States.  That's a terrible tragedy and we need to education people on the dangers of this."

The bill also encourages the Kentucky Department of Highway Safety to create an educational campaign called “Look Before You Lock” to focus on the importance of checking the backseat before exiting a vehicle. 

State Senator Danny Carroll of Paducah is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

Robertson Stepping Down as Kentucky GOP Executive Director

Jul 16, 2015

Steve Robertson is stepping down as executive director of the Republican Party of Kentucky and a staffer for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is taking his place.

Robertson will join public affairs firm CivicPoint as a senior vice president. His last day as executive director will be Aug. 15. He will remain the party's chairman through the November elections.

Mike Biagi will be the party's new executive director beginning Aug. 1. He is a field representative for McConnell in Louisville.

Robertson was elected chairman in 2007. Since then, Republicans have added more than 183,600 registered voters in Kentucky while Democrats have added 23,957. Republicans have won five of the six congressional seats and both U.S. Senate seats. But Democrats still hold five of the six statewide constitutional officers and a majority in the state House of Representatives.