Rand Paul Checks Trump On Secretary Of State Picks Wednesday, Dec 7 2016 

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has become an outspoken assessor of President-elect Donald Trump’s potential nominees for secretary of state, going out of his way to criticize several candidates for their hawkish foreign policy views.

Paul, a non-interventionist who has clashed with his party on foreign policy issues during his first term in office, is in a rare position to influence who Trump taps to be the next secretary of state.

A nominee would have to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, with 10 Republicans and 9 Democrats on the panel, Paul represents a key swing vote.

So far, Paul has publicly stated that he would not support the nomination of former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, citing his support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He’s also cast doubts on the prospects of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, questioning the candidates’ views on foreign intervention.

Kentucky’s junior senator and the president-elect were bitter rivals when the two were vying for the Republican nomination for president. Dropping out of the race in February, Paul was slow to support Trump’s nomination but eventually gave a quiet endorsement of the New York businessman.

Now Paul says he’s trying to make sure Trump picks “someone who agrees with Donald Trump.”

“Donald Trump said nation building was a problem, regime change was a problem, the Iraq War was a mistake,” Paul said on CNN last week.

Over the years, Paul has criticized the U.S. role in the Middle East, arguing that the country needs to be more selective about foreign involvement.

Paul has criticized the GOP for being “too eager to go to war” and also slammed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for being a “war hawk.”

In a 2014 speech, Paul said the country shouldn’t be “sentimental” about its foreign enemies, but “we also can’t be blind to the fact that drone strikes that inadvertently kill civilians may create more jihadists than we eliminate.”

Paul has also cast doubt on Trump’s consideration of retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus for secretary of state, questioning how Republicans could confirm him “with a straight face.”

In 2015, Petraeus pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information; during the presidential race this year, Republicans skewered Democratic nominee Clinton for using a private server to handle classified emails.

Rand Paul Cruises To Reelection Over Democrat Jim Gray Wednesday, Nov 9 2016 

Republican Sen. Rand Paul has won reelection to his seat, defeating Democratic challenger Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington.

Paul won all but seven of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

In his victory speech, Paul quoted the rock group Pink Floyd and said government needs to get out of the way of individuals’ creativity.

“The goal should be to set you free,” he said. “To leave you alone. To have a government so small you can barely see it.”

Paul is at the end of his first term in the Senate. He was part of a crowded field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president but suspended his campaign at the beginning of this year.

Paul rarely mentioned Gray’s name during the campaign, instead attacking Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Paul defeated Gray by 14 points. Gray won Fayette, Jefferson and a handful of other counties in the central part of the state.

In his concession speech, Gray said Democrats still have something to look forward to in Kentucky.

“We have earned the right to celebrate the good works of this campaign,” he said, adding that “our season is coming.”

Paul rode a Republican wave in Kentucky that also swept the presidential race and many state House elections in the state.

Here’s A Brief Guide To Election Day 2016 Sunday, Nov 6 2016 

You probably thought the day would never arrive, but Tuesday is Election Day.

In Kentucky, not only will voters choose a president, they’ll determine which political party controls the state House of Representatives (and perhaps the legislative agenda in Frankfort).

There’s also a bitter U.S. Senate race, and in Louisville, Congress and half of the Metro Council seats are on the ballot, along with school board races. We’ll have more coverage of those on Monday.

Kentucky Democrats have a lot to lose Tuesday. The state House is the last legislative chamber controlled by Democrats in any southern state. If Republicans can net four more seats, they’ll have power over the entire legislative process in Frankfort.

You can read some of our coverage of the battle over the Kentucky House here:

Kentucky Democrats, Republicans Pull Out All The Stops In Fight Over State House

McConnell: Ky. Needs GOP Control Of State House To Grow Economy

Will Donald Trump Help Republicans Win The State House?


Paul vs. Gray

In what began as a sleepy contest, the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Rand Paul and Democratic challenger Jim Gray finally heated up at this year’s Fancy Farm picnic.

Since then, the two men have lobbed attacks at one another — largely via news releases and written statements. That is, until they finally came face-to-face for their only debate on Halloween night.

Gray accused Paul of having “wild-ass philosophies and theories.” And Paul repeatedly tried to link Gray to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Obama (both are unpopular in the Bluegrass State.)

A poll released early on Monday by Runswitch PR showed Paul with a 10-point lead in the race.

You can read our coverage of the Senate race here:

When and where can I vote?

Polls open at 6 a.m. local time and close at 6 p.m. You can find your polling place and check out sample ballots here.

And if you see any problems at the polls, we want to know about it! WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting is one of several newsrooms across the country partnering with ProPublica for its Electionland project. Electionland aims to seek out and scrutinize any problems at the polls that prevent voters from participating in the 2016 election.

To learn how you can be involved, go here.

How long will I have to wait in line?

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes estimates 60 percent of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots on Tuesday. Grimes said that’s on par with the turnout from the 2012 presidential election, when 59 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In 2008, the turnout was 64 percent.

Who am I voting for?

In addition to choosing a new president, elections are also scheduled for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislative seats. In Louisville, 13 of 26 Metro Council seats are up for election, as well as school board seats.

When will I know who won?

We’ll be live on 89.3 WFPL beginning at 7 p.m. — that’s when polls close in Western Kentucky and when statewide results start rolling in. We’ll also have coverage throughout the evening at wfpl.org.

Hey Kentucky, Help Us Track Poll Problems On Tuesday Thursday, Nov 3 2016 

Kentuckians have heard allegations, intimations and forecasts of a “rigged” election and “large-scale voter fraud” in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election. Perhaps you saw them shared on Facebook, heard them from a candidate or in an email from a friend.

What gives?

Well, WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting is here to help sort it out.

KyCIR is one of several newsrooms across the country partnering with ProPublica for its Electionland project. Electionland aims to seek out and scrutinize any problems at the polls that prevent voters from participating in the 2016 election.

But we can’t be in every polling station. We need you.

Text ELECTIONLAND to 69866

Text ELECTIONLAND to 69866

Help report on your voting experience. Sign up now by texting ELECTIONLAND to 69866. That’s right, text that single word to 69866.

We’ll check in on Election Day to find out how long it took you to vote and whether you had or saw any problems.

We’d love to hear from you:

–How long did it take to vote? Did long lines cause people to walk away without casting ballots?

–Were there any issues with ballots or polling equipment? Were you or someone else wrongly turned away?

–Did you observe other people running into difficulties?

You can follow us on Twitter for updates from across Kentucky. Electionland will be providing nationwide updates on Twitter and online. Read more about the project here.

Grimes Predicts 60 percent Voter Turnout On Tuesday Wednesday, Nov 2 2016 

Kentucky’s top election official estimates 60 percent of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots on Tuesday.

Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said that’s on par with the turnout from the 2012 presidential election, when 59 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In 2008, the turnout was 64 percent.

Grimes said 47,000 people have cast in-person absentee ballots, up from 37,000 at this same time four years ago. The state has also issued 39,700 mail-in absentee ballots, of which 26,000 have been returned.

A record 3.3 million people are registered to vote in Tuesday’s election. For president, in addition to the Democratic and Republican candidates, Kentucky voters will have 23 registered write-in candidates to choose from. Elections are also scheduled for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislative seats.

Why Go There? A Linguist Dissects Jim Gray’s ‘Wild-Ass’ Zinger Tuesday, Nov 1 2016 

Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul and his opponent, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray squared off Tuesday night in their only face-to-face debate of the election season. For an hour, they talked about the future of coal, Kentucky’s heroin problem, and more.

But it was one particular turn of phrase, used by Gray, that caught people’s ears. It includes a word for the human posterior.

I looked into the phrase. Listen in the player above (or here) — without your kids in the room.

Jim Gray Accuses Rand Paul Of ‘Wild-Ass’ Ideas In Debate Monday, Oct 31 2016 

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray accused U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of having “wild-ass philosophies and theories” in their first and only face-to-face debate of the election year. The at times freewheeling event underscored the candidates’ differences on foreign policy and economic values.

Paul repeatedly tried to tie Gray to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, who are both unpopular in Kentucky.

“The mayor’s endorsed both of these candidates, so it makes it very difficult for him in Western Kentucky or Eastern Kentucky to convince people that he’s for them when he’s for these regulations that have been killing their jobs,” Paul said.

The hour-long debate, which was televised live on KET, took place about a week before Kentuckians go to the polls on Nov. 8.

Gray is in his second term as mayor of Lexington. Paul is at the end of his first term in the Senate. He also sought the Republican nomination for president but dropped out of the race earlier this year.

The public officials also attacked each other’s political acumen and ability to compromise.

Gray twice said that Paul had “wild-ass” ideas, accusing the Republican senator of being an obstructionist. He chided Paul for quoting Montesquieu, a French philosopher, and highlighted Paul’s vote against the funding of a federal addiction treatment bill during the budgeting process earlier this year.

“It’s obtuse, it’s arcane, it’s nonsense,” Gray said.

Paul defended his vote, saying lawmakers should vote on funding issues piecemeal and shouldn’t have to vote for multiple issues within the same funding bill.

“It’s going to take people with courage to stand up even against demagoguery, people that will demagogue the issue and say you’re opposed to something, you’re actually for them. Because we have to fix the spending problem,” Paul said.

Gray has repeatedly attacked Paul for his presidential bid, accusing him of not paying attention to his duties in the Senate.

On Monday, Paul shot back, panning Gray’s handling of the languishing Centre Pointe development in downtown Lexington, which was started by Gray’s predecessor.

“If anybody’s distracted by running for two offices, it’s you,” Paul said. “You’ve got an enormous hole in the middle of Lexington. It’s been there your entire tenure.”

The two candidates also differed on raising the minimum wage: Gray wants to raise it and Paul doesn’t, saying it would lead to unemployment.

A poll released early on Monday by Runswitch PR showed Paul with a 10-point lead in the race.

VA environmental study determines Brownsboro site for new medical center to be ‘preferred alternative’ Monday, Oct 31 2016 

Veterans Affairs VA Hospital

After nine months of delays, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has finally released a copy of an environmental study for the proposed site of Louisville’s new VA hospital, near the intersection of Brownsboro Road and the Watterson Expressway, deeming this site its “preferred alternative.” The draft Environmental Impact Statement examined the cumulative effect of […]

Gray Holds Louisville Rally, Focused On Final Stretch Of Campaign Saturday, Oct 29 2016 

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is keeping his message focused on the economy heading into the final week of his campaign for U.S. Senate.

Gray, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican.

About 100 people turned out to rally for Gray at a Highlands bar Friday evening. The event drew Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, state Senator Morgan McGarvey, local legislators, city officials and other supporters.

Gray is offering a moderate stance to voters and a willingness to work with both Republicans and Democrats.

But he’s facing an uphill battle.

In Kentucky, Republican support is surging, and the last Kentucky Democrat to be elected to the Senate was Wendell Ford in 1992. The last time Kentuckians voted to elect a Democratic president was Bill Clinton in 1996.

Gray is steering his message away from social issues that some Kentucky Democrats are beginning to see through a conservative lens.

“There are a lot of issues and a lot of things that we need to address, but at the end of the day, people want a good job,” he told the crowd.

Gray said Kentucky voters are telling him they want better jobs above all else.

“We’ve got to get our economy on track to where it’s growing at a pace where it can allow middle-class jobs and the middle class to prosper,” he said. “That’s exactly what I’m focused on.”

Gray and Paul are set for their first and only debate Monday evening. Held by KET, it airs on 89.3 WFPL News at 8 p.m. on Monday.

On Friday, Gray accused Paul of being afraid to debate him.

The two have faced off the issues of coal industry revitalization, gun control and the opioid addiction epidemic. And earlier this week, they appeared together at an Owensboro forum where they jabbed at each other over support for coal miners.

There’s been little polling in this year’s only Kentucky Senate race. Paul seems to have the advantage, according to the Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball, the Cook Political Report and the Babbage Cofounder Pulse poll released earlier this month, which showed Paul leading Gray 33 percent to 26.5 percent, with 40 percent of would-be voters undecided.

Paul has leaned on what many Republicans call the “war on coal,” which they say will be perpetuated by a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Fischer told the crowd Paul has done little to benefit Kentucky during his time as senator. And he commended Gray for being “a likable guy.”

“And people relate to him. That’s how people vote,” Fischer said.

State Sen. Morgan McGarvey said Gray should work to establish his “own brand,” separate from the campaign at the top of ticket.

“People are tired of national politics right now,” he said. “And for good reason.”

Gray’s message and likability resonated with the crowd of voters gathered Friday evening.

Craig Zahradnik, from Louisville, said he votes “both ways” but was wearing a pro-Gray sticker at Friday’s rally. He said he’d like to see less emphasis on social issues and more discussion about the economy.

“Things that the Congress and Senate are really supposed to be working on,” he said. “I hate that people vote just because of abortion, just because of guns, but that’s what it boils down to.”

He said Gray appears to be “an issues guy,” and that’s what he likes.

“I’m encouraged by that,” he said.

Pat Layton, who just moved to Louisville from Frankfort, said she knew Gray’s grandfather and has met his mother. She said “he was just raised right.”

“He’s just a really fine fella,” he said. “I think he’ll be one of the best United States senators we’ve ever had.”

Gray said he’ll spend the final week of the campaign reaching out to as many voters as he can.

Gray, Paul Scrap Over Coal Pensions Ahead Of First Debate Friday, Oct 28 2016 

With their only face-to-face debate and Election Day looming, Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidates were at the same event Thursday night for the first time in two months.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Democratic candidate Jim Gray both attended an open-air Red, White and Blue forum in Owensboro, trying to drum up votes on a chilly Thursday evening.

Gray, the mayor of Lexington, criticized Paul for not supporting a bill that would shore up the ailing pensions of United Mine Workers of America members using money from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund.

“Wendell Ford would have been with these mine workers that are losing their pensions and their benefits,” Gray said of Kentucky’s former long-term Democratic Senator from Owensboro. “Now I’ll tell you, I’m going to be a senator like Wendell Ford.”

Paul indicated last month he wouldn’t vote for the bill, saying that he was in favor of the concept but thought that a solution should help all miner pensions, not just those of the UMWA union.

The union’s pension fund has dwindled as the number of coal miners employed in the country and represented by the union has declined. The last UMWA mine in Kentucky closed in 2014.

During his speech on Thursday evening, Paul said the solution to the problem is to “stop hurting the coal miner.”

“The war on coal has killed the coal industry,” Paul said. “Why are the pension funds short? Why is this miner suffering because his pension is short? It’s because Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama killed the coal industry. They can’t contribute to the pension because of the war on coal.”

Paul and Gray will meet in their first and only in-person debate on Monday night. The event will be televised live on KET.

Public polling on Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race has been scarce this year. A Babbage Cofounder Pulse poll from mid-October showed Paul leading Gray 33 percent to 26.5 percent with 40 percent of would-be voters undecided.

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