Rand Paul Pushes For Criminal Justice Reform At Louisville Stop Friday, Jun 24 2016 

Sen. Rand Paul stopped at a Louisville Goodwill on Friday to talk about ways to help people with criminal records return to the workforce.

Paul has made criminal justice reform a key initiative during his time in Washington, though the Senate hasn’t passed any major proposals.

Goodwill operates programs that help people with criminal records enter the workforce. On Friday Goodwill and KentuckianaWorks presented their “Re-Entry By Design” program, which helps people on probation or parole put together resumes, prepare for interviews and ultimately find a job.

At the event, Paul said family values-oriented Republicans should logically support legislation that helps people find work despite their criminal records.

“If I’m a Republican and I say ‘I’m for family values’ and ‘I want families to be together’ and ‘I want dads to be around,’ well, dads can’t be in prison for 20 years for a nonviolent crime they committed when they were 21 or you don’t have family values,” Paul said.

Paul voiced support for the felony expungement bill that Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law in April. The bill makes people with certain Class D felonies eligible to have the offenses cleared if they pay a $500 fee. Applicants only become eligible five years after their sentences are complete.

Paul also called for a compromise on state legislation to restore voting rights to some ex-felons. In 2014, Paul voiced support for a bill that would have automatically restored voting rights to felons once they completed their sentences. The bill failed, with House Democrats opposing a five-year waiting period Senate Republicans tacked onto the measure.

Paul said he disapproved of former Gov. Steve Beshear’s executive order that automatically granted voting rights to about 180,000 non-violent ex-felons — a move that Bevin rescinded during his first weeks in office.

“Some of us want to see it done by the legislature,” Paul said. “[Beshear] was sort of doing it transiently by executive order. If we’re going to do it, let’s fix it and change the law.”

Paul has pushed several pieces of federal criminal justice reform, including reduction of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, expungement of felony records and restoration of voting rights, though the proposals haven’t garnered enough support to get a floor vote.

A Republican, Paul is running for reelection to his Senate seat against Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a Democrat.

In Other News… Kentucky primary winners, Calipari wants to stay at UK, Lawrence talks ‘X-Men’ return Friday, May 20 2016 

sanders clinton

Primary Colors: Your Kentucky Democratic Primary was this past Tuesday, allowing the state to weigh in on its choice: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or former Sen. of New York and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. The winner: too close to call, at least at first, until finally, with the narrowest of margins, Hillary Clinton was […]

With Primary, Rand Paul Eases Back Into Kentucky Politics Saturday, May 14 2016 

Riding a wave of notoriety from his failed presidential campaign, Sen. Rand Paul has returned to Kentucky, relatively unscathed, to run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

Paul has an easy path to securing the nomination in Tuesday’s primary election. With no major challengers this year, he hasn’t run TV ads or participated in public debates. Paul has appeared in a series of town hall meetings across the state, touting his platform, which is essentially the same as it was during his 2010 race.

A vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, environmental regulations and intervention in foreign wars, Paul voted against budget compromises that would have avoided a government shutdown in 2013. On the campaign trail in Kentucky this spring, he defended the move.

“My point is that maybe it needs to shut down so we can fix it,” he said. “We have to do something about it.”

There are two Republicans running against Paul — Lexington financial analyst James Gould and Louisville engineer Stephen Slaughter. Both are political newcomers and haven’t run high-profile campaigns.

On his website, Slaughter says he supports construction of the Keystone-XL pipeline and creating jobs by re-industrializing  the country.

“This will provide options for those that are currently or formerly working in the coal industry,” he states.

Gould says on his website that he wants to lift economic sanctions against Russia and “freeze domestic national spending on programs to respond to the rate of inflation and population growth.”

According to the Morehead News, Gould’s only other run for public office was for Morehead City Council when he was a 21-year-old student at Morehead State.

During the 2010 primary, Paul summoned Tea Party support to defeat former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who had been endorsed by Sen. Mitch McConnell. Paul’s isolationist views on foreign policy and surveillance fell out of favor on the national level, though, after growing worries about terrorism at home and abroad.

Paul mitigates his isolationist stance by saying he favors Ronald Reagan’s “Peace through Strength” mantra — that force is a necessary means to achieve peace. And the main plank of his platform is the same as it was when he was first elected in 2010: reduce federal spending.

“As a government, we have to do what you all do: Spend what comes in,” he says. “We have to balance our budget. I’m afraid they’re not listening to us, that maybe what we really need is an amendment to the Constitution that says ‘enough is enough,’ you can only spend what comes in.”

Paul won the influential Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll three years in a row. He suspended his presidential bid earlier this year, after a poor showing in the Iowa Republican Caucus.

The primary is Tuesday, May 17.

Kentucky’s Democratic Candidates For Senate Debate Tuesday, Apr 19 2016 

A crowded field of Democrats wants to unseat Republican Sen. Rand Paul this fall, even though Kentucky hasn’t sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1992.

During an hour-long debate hosted by Simmons College and WHAS-11 Tuesday evening, the six candidates weighed in on how Democrats could turn the political momentum around in Kentucky and declared why they were the best man to beat Paul in the general election.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, owner of Gray Construction, said Democrats need to rally around broad economic policies that create jobs.

“The Democratic Party has been at the front edge of raising the economic boat, always,” Gray said, highlighting New Deal-era polices like the Works Progress Administration and infrastructure projects like the interstate highway system.

Gray said Kentuckians would come out to vote for him over Paul because people are tired of “politics as usual.”

“Citizens are tired of the gridlock in Washington, and there is a lot of economic anxiety. All of that translates into a high turnout in the fall,” he said.

Sellus Wilder, a former city commissioner in Frankfort and environmentalist, said he’s running to provide a “progressive voice” in the Democratic Party, which he feel has skewed conservative.

“I realize an authentic progressive campaign might be a longshot in Kentucky, but I think it’s the only shot we’ve got in taking down Rand,” Wilder said.

Wilder criticized past Democratic candidates who joined Republicans in demonizing federal regulations of the coal industry even though market pressures have contributed as well.

Wilder said he won’t beat Jim Gray in fundraising, but he said he’s thrown hope behind on-the-ground campaigning, social media and attention from the press.

“The hope is just that this message is strong enough that it resonates through these channels, and so far that’s been going pretty well,” he said.

Ron Leach, a physician’s assistant and military veteran, criticized the nominating process for favoring candidates who have money to self-fund their campaigns, like Gray.

“The process that says only millionaires and billionaires need apply will lead to the same results we keep getting election after election,” said Leach, who lost to Rep. Brett Guthrie in a race for the second congressional district in 2014.

According to his campaign, Jim Gray raised $1.75 million in the first quarter of this year — $1 million of which he loaned to his cause.

“This primary will be bought by someone who will lose in double digits in the general election and will take other candidates down with him,” Leach said.

Jeff Kender, a factory worker from Phelps; Tom Recktenwald of Louisville; and Rory Houlihan of Winchester are also running for the nomination.

Grant Short of Owensboro dropped out of the race ahead of the debate.

The Democratic primary election is May 17. The winner will face the victor of the Republican primary: Rand Paul, James Gould or Stephen Howard Slaughter.

Climate Hawks Vote Endorses Sellus Wilder For U.S. Senate. Friday, Apr 8 2016 

Click here to visit Sellus Wilder’s Wilder for Senate Facebook Page and here to visit his Wilder for Senate website. Some of you may be familiar with Sellus Wilder’s film “The End of the Line.” Climate Hawks Vote We’re delighted … Continue reading →

The post Climate Hawks Vote Endorses Sellus Wilder For U.S. Senate. appeared first on Hillbilly Report.

Can A Liberal Democrat Win A Statewide Election In Kentucky? Friday, Apr 8 2016 

When they’re running for statewide office, Kentucky Democrats and Republicans usually have something in common: They embrace the state’s coal culture and attack federal regulations of the signature industry.

But Sellus Wilder, a Democrat running a longshot campaign for U.S. Senate this year, wants his party to stop pandering.

“We never have honest conversations on the state of the coal industry,” Wilder said. “Environmental regulation has contributed to the decline of the coal industry, but it’s hardly the most important factor.”

Wilder is running in the crowded seven-person field for the Democratic Senate nomination. The winner will face Sen. Rand Paul in November.

The man to beat in the primary is Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who, according to his campaign, raised $1.75 million in the first quarter of this year — $1 million of which he loaned to the cause.

Wilder said Gray is avoiding progressive policies and that Kentucky politicians generally focus too much on EPA regulations of the coal industry.

“People in Kentucky aren’t stupid,” he said. “They know that they’ve been sold the same story over and over again, and that their lives haven’t been getting any better.”

In last year’s gubernatorial race, Democratic candidate Jack Conway touted his record as attorney general suing the EPA for its regulations of the coal industry. In the 2014 race for Senate, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes similarly framed herself as a pro-coal candidate.

And for years, Democratic elected officials — especially, but not exclusively, ones outside of Kentucky’s major metropolitan areas — have run against coal regulation.

Wilder said Democratic politicians haven’t made an effort to “challenge the paradigm.”

“Nobody’s even tried to run a campaign that actually puts coal mining communities and the people in them above industrial profits,” he said.

Wilder is getting attention for his position. He’s garnered the endorsements of activist group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and philanthropist Christy Lee Brown, who co-hosted a fundraiser for him in Louisville last week.

But the political realities of running a pro-environment campaign in Kentucky are steep, according to Steve Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky.

“The typical voter is not an ideologue and isn’t looking for grand, sweeping solutions,” he said. “They just want people to solve problems in a practical way.”

Gray has run a quiet campaign so far. In a late-February interview with Kentucky Public Radio, he said the coal industry is “in a major transformation.”

“That means that a really meaningful and intentional and deliberate effort to diversify the economy is essential,” he said.

Gray said he supports the Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative, a program designed to bring awareness to the region’s future co-founded by Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, to help in those efforts.

Brown, the Louisville philanthropist, has in the past held sway over candidates’ fortunes via a strong network of donors, said she’s supporting Wilder because of his focus on the environment.

“My hope is that it will begin to solidify a progressive, healthy voice for Kentucky,” she said. “Because I think it’s been desperately lacking. It is what will empower those of us who have become not so inspired by the political system.”

The Democratic primary is on May 17. Voters have to register by April 18 to participate.

More Kentucky Democrats Opening Wallets For 2016 Presidential Election Wednesday, Mar 30 2016 

Six months of heated competition by their presidential candidates led Republicans in Kentucky to make campaign donations early and enthusiastically. Now, the state’s Democratic Party donors have snatched the fundraising momentum.

Last year, Kentucky residents gave $898,581 to the campaigns of Republican candidates, compared with $493,489 to Democrats — 82 percent more — according to the Federal Election Commission. Individual donations in January were evenly split between the parties’ candidates, but Democrats stepped up in in February, out-giving Republicans by 24 percent.

Laurie Rhodebeck, an associate political science professor at the University of Louisville, said the wide-open Republican field last fall and the frequency of debates spurred contributions for GOP candidates.

“That competitive element stimulates interest, and one form of interest is campaign contributions,” she said. “Maybe even as late as the end of December, I’m not sure Democrats would have had the sense that there was a truly competitive race there, and if it’s not perceived as especially competitive, I think the contributions will be lower.”

Of course, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has livened up the primary by winning contests in Michigan, Colorado and Washington state. Among individual donors in Kentucky, Sanders has received more money than any other candidate — of either party — in 2016. The $97,539 he raised through Feb. 29 was nearly a third of all direct contributions made by Kentuckians during that time.

In Kentucky’s total haul, Sanders trails Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul. Clinton, with $388,274 in the bank, has still raised 72 percent more money than Sanders in Kentucky. Paul raised $366,179 through Feb. 29. He dropped out of the race earlier that month.

FEC - KY donations through Feb.

Total individual candidate contributions through Feb. 29, 2016.

Sanders has raised almost 10 times the amount that Republican front-runner Donald Trump has received in Kentucky. Unlike Trump, who is mostly self-financed, and candidates supported by parties and political action committees, Sanders is gathering steam from small — even $20 — contributions.

“Twenty dollars may not seem that much to many of us, but people want to feel that they’re not wasting that money, and to see Sanders doing well and hanging in there — his enthusiasm never flags — I think that sends a message to contributors that their money will be well spent,” Rhodebeck said.

The individual contributions do not include donations from PACs and party committees. Individuals are limited by law to giving $2,700 per election. Some PACs and party committees have $5,000 limits.

The Republican caucus, which Trump won, took place March 5. The Democratic primary will be on May 17.

“Based on these (contribution) numbers, I’m thinking that Sanders is likely to do quite well,” Rhodebeck said. “Will he win? I’m not sure I want to go out on a limb there. Clinton did well here in 2008 against Obama, but Sanders is a very different opponent.”

Reporter James McNair can be reached at jmcnair@kycir.org or (502) 814.6543. 

This story was reported by WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

The All Grass and No Roots DSCC Endorses Jim Gray Monday, Mar 21 2016 

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) wants Kentuckians to forget about supporting Rory Houlihan, of Winchester; Jeff Kender, of Phelps; Ron Leach, of Brandenburg; Tom Recktenwald, of Louisville; Grant T. Short, of Owensboro; or Sellus Wilder, of Frankfort during the … Continue reading →

The post The All Grass and No Roots DSCC Endorses Jim Gray appeared first on Hillbilly Report.

Republicans Vote. Democrats Whine. Saturday, Mar 5 2016 

Republicans Vote. Democrats Whine. The Kentucky Republican Party and Senator Rand Paul made it as difficult as possible for Hardin County Republicans to participate in the 2016 Kentucky Republican Presidential Primary today March 5, 2016. To make matters worse it … Continue reading →

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Donald Trump Wins Kentucky GOP Caucus Saturday, Mar 5 2016 

Donald Trump won the Kentucky Republican Caucus on Saturday, signaling that momentum continues for the New York businessman despite a crescendo of objections from establishment Republicans.

Trump took 36 percent of the vote in Kentucky while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz placed second, taking 32 percent of Kentucky Republican votes.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had 16 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had 14 percent.

Earlier in the day, Cruz secured a major victory in Kansas, taking 48 percent of the vote to Trump’s 23 percent.

Trump’s strongest showing was in Eastern Kentucky, where he racked up big victories in coal counties such as Pike County (where he won by 30 percent) and Harlan County (where he won by 9 percent). The real estate mogul also drew strong support in Southern Kentucky counties.

Trump won Jefferson County narrowly, beating Cruz by about 1.5 percent. Cruz won Fayette County by 4 percent.

Reports from across the state showed bustling crowds in many caucus locations, which were open Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. EST.

Statewide, the number of caucus voters — nearly 230,000 — was similar to past primaries at just under 18 percent of registered voters.

More than 100 caucus-goers lined up in advance of doors opening at Henry Clay High School in Lexington Saturday morning. Organizers said the crowd was “larger than expected.”

Lexington attorney Chris Hunt was passing out information supporting candidate Ted Cruz outside the Lexington caucus site. Hunt said he likes the fact that the caucus is so early in the nominating process.

“It’s always been a little disappointing to me as a Kentuckian that we’ve been so late in the process that a lot of the time, our primary didn’t seem to have as much impact on the election,” he said.

The Kentucky Republican Party decided to switch to a March 5 caucus from a May 17 primary last year.

Party officials said the contest is much like a conventional election, but there are notable exceptions. Most counties have only one caucus location, meaning voters in remote parts of counties had to travel to a central polling place. That’s a change from traditional primaries, in which there are far more voting locations.

Also, supporters were allowed to advocate for their candidates very near the polling stations — normally, “electioneering” is forbidden within 100 feet of a polling place.

“I like the idea that people can gather some information, there can be some give and take. They can talk to somebody in person about those things if they’re on the fence,” Hunt said.

At a caucus location in far Western Kentucky’s Fulton County, WKMS reporter Becca Schimmel said there was “higher turnout than expected” at a private residence designated as that county’s polling place.

In Calloway County, WKMS reporter John Null said when doors opened, there were about 100 caucus-goers lined up, putting the site on track to surpass the 542 total Republican voters who participated in the county’s 2012 presidential primary.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul cast his ballot in Bowling Green this morning but declined to say who he voted for.

Although Paul was for a time running for Senate and the White House simultaneously, he suspended his presidential campaign last month to focus on reelection to his Senate seat. Paul convinced party officials to switch to a caucus last year to skirt a state law that forbids candidates from appearing on the same ballot twice.

Voters caucusing on Saturday expressed a variety of opinions about the candidates and the state of the country.

Lloyd Mullins, a semi-retired machine shop owner from Lexington, said he “just likes” Trump.

“I think he’s a loudmouth, but I think he’s a smart man. I think he’s a pretty savvy businessman,” Mullins said. “The only concern I have about Trump is he’s a loudmouth. If we get into some sort of national defense issue, he may come on a little too strong.”

Louisville resident Chris Michals said she supports Trump because he’s an outsider who can bring a new perspective to the Washington political scene.

“We need somebody fresh, we need somebody that’s going to listen to the people and take care of our country and take care of us and stop shipping our jobs offshore and letting illegal immigrants come into the country,” Michals said.

Louisville resident Tom Luking, who wouldn’t say which Republican he voted for, said he didn’t vote for Trump. Luking said if Trump secures the nomination, he would vote for a Democrat instead.

“I hope to get somebody other than Trump in there,” Luking said. “I really don’t have a feeling that I want to vote for somebody that’s advocating war crimes among other stupidities.”

Trump says he supports the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique, even though the Bush administration banned it in 2006.

Kelly Thatcher, another Louisville resident who voted Saturday, said she wouldn’t vote for Trump if he were nominated.

“He is just too much. He is extreme, he’s a talking head, so many unsavory words,” she said.

Callie Babcock, a student at the University of Kentucky, voted for Marco Rubio on Saturday. So did her mother, Ruth Babcock.

Ruth said she would definitely vote for Trump if he were nominated. Callie said it’s “up in the air.”

“I’m working on her,” Ruth Babcock said of her daughter.

As Trump hurtles toward the Republican National Convention with the support of a majority of delegates, his opponents can only hope to siphon off enough to keep him from securing the nomination.

Trump needs 1,237 delegates to win. If he doesn’t reach that magic number, the convention would be thrown into chaos as delegates try to rally around a candidate who can secure the nomination.

Louisville resident Lacy Little said he thinks Republicans are conspiring against Trump.

“If they screw Trump over, I’ll never vote Republican again,” he said.

Despite initial fears that voter interest would be low because the caucus is new, turnout was steady across the state on Saturday. In a statement, Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown called the turnout “remarkable.”

“It is exciting to see Kentuckians so engaged, and it is great that so many voters used this opportunity to have a meaningful impact on the presidential race,” Brown said. “Today’s success was also possible because of the preparation and hard work of the Republican volunteers at the local level.”

WFPL News reporter Jacob Ryan contributed to this story.

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