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Richard Heath seeks recanvass in GOP race for agriculture commissioner

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT –State Rep. Richard Heath of Mayfield, a Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner in Tuesday’s primary election, asked Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes Thursday for a statewide recanvass.

Unofficial vote totals currently show Heath wth a 1,427-vote deficit to his opponent, state Rep. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown.

Grimes, the state’s chief election official, said she will forward Heath’s request to all county clerks and remind them of the procedures for a recanvass.

“Our office is always available to assist county boards of elections in any way we can,” Grimes said. “Integrity in our elections processes is crucial, and Kentuckians deserve to know that their votes are properly counted and tabulated.”

On Wednesday, Grimes received a statewide recanvass request from James R. Comer and Chris McDaniel, Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. They trail the GOP ticket of Matt Bevin and Jenean Hampton by 83 votes out of 214,187 cast.

County boards of elections will convene at 9 a.m. May 28 to recheck and recanvass the voting machines. Immediately upon completion of the recanvass, the county boards of elections will file their recanvass reports with Grimes.

Grimes prepares for potential recanvass in GOP gubernatorial primary

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com
FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Wednesday that her office is prepared for a potential recanvass in Tuesday’s razor-close Republican primary election for governor.
Unofficial results show Louisville businessman Matt Bevin with an 83-vote lead over state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville.
Comer has said he plans to ask for a recanvass.
“Both candidates and the public are entitled to confidence in election results, and I stand ready to facilitate any proceedings necessary to provide those assurances,” said Grimes, the state’s chief election official in a statement.
“My office is prepared and will continue to provide updates regarding any recanvass requests we receive and the procedures being followed.”
To obtain a recanvass in a statewide election, a candidate must submit a written request to the Secretary of State’s office no later than 4 p.m. Eastern Time on May 26.
The request may be limited to certain precincts or counties or seek a statewide recanvass.
Once the request is made, Grimes’ office will communicate it to all county boards of elections involved.
Under Kentucky law, the county boards of elections for the counties in which a recanvass was requested will convene at 9 a.m. on May 28 to recheck and recanvass each voting machine and make a return to the county clerk.
That will become the official return for the county.
Each candidate and both political parties are entitled to have a representative present at the recanvass. In addition, the county board of elections shall authorize members of the media to observe.
The purpose of a recanvass is to verify the accuracy of the vote totals reported from the voting machines.
The method for conducting the recanvass depends on the type of voting machine and is set forth in an administrative regulation.
No voting machines are unlocked during the recanvass. If there was an error in the original canvass, the returns will be corrected.
The county board of elections must file its recanvass report with the secretary of state immediately upon completion of the recanvass.
On May 11, Grimes office sent to all county clerks vote total certification forms and a memorandum with the procedures and forms to be used in the event a recanvass is requested.
Since January 2011, the secretary of state’s office has received five recanvass requests – three for legislative offices and two for judicial offices.
The recanvass results did not change the outcome of those elections.
The last statewide recanvass occurred in the 2011 Republican Primary for the office of Secretary of State between Bill Johnson and Hilda Legg.
The recanvass resulted in a change of 6 votes in favor of Hilda Legg, the losing candidate, but did not change the outcome of the election.

Grimes predicts only 10 percent voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is predicting only 10 percent voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election.

Grimes, the state’s chief election official, said a review of absentee data from county clerks and historical turnout for similar elections indicates that about 10 percent of the 3.1 million people registered to vote in Kentucky will go to the polls Tuesday.

Races in play are for governor and the state’s other constitutional offices.

In 2011, the last election for statewide constitutional officers in Kentucky, 10.35 percent of voters went to the polls for the primary, said Grimes.

About 17 percent of the Kentucky electorate voted in the 2003 primary election, which is the last time there was not an incumbent candidate for the office of governor.

As of May 11, she said, 3,388 voters had voted absentee on machines in county clerks’ offices and 3,586 absentee ballots had been mailed to voters.

Grimes urged voters to prepare to vote on May 19 by checking their polling places and viewing sample ballots.

Record number of KY voters registered for May 19 primary election

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — Nearly 3.2 million Kentuckians are registered to vote in the May 19 primary election — the most ever, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Monday.

The total number of registered voters – 3,175,905 – beats the 3,147,157 registered for last November’s general election held in November 2014.

The difference is an increase of approximately 1 percent, or 28,748 voters, over five months.

“I am excited to see that more and more Kentuckians are registering to vote, and I hope these newly registered voters will exercise their right and responsibility to vote in the primary election,” said Grimes, Kentucky’s chief election official.

Of the registered voters, 2,923,556 are affiliated with either the Republican or Democrat party, making them potentially eligible to vote for partisan offices, including statewide constitutional officers, on the primary ballot.

Both political parties have seen an increase in registered voters since the May 20, 2014, primary election and since 2011, the last election year for statewide constitutional officers, Grimes said.

Democrats currently make up 53.09 percent of Kentucky voters, while 38.97 percent are Republicans. 7.94 percent of voters are identified as “Other.”

Approximately 53 percent of registered voters are women and 47 percent are men, which is consistent with the 2014 election cycle.

“As Kentucky’s chief advocate for civic engagement, I hope all eligible voters will head to the polls and vote on Election Day,” said Grimes. “There are various methods for registered Kentuckians to vote, including going to the polls on May 19, voting in county clerks’ offices before Election Day, or casting a mail-in absentee ballot, so I urge all Kentuckians to know their options and make their voices heard.”

Voters may access the Voter Information Center (VIC) on the State Board of Elections’ website to confirm their voter registration status, view sample ballots, and locate their polling place.

For complete registration statistics, additional election information, or to access the VIC, visit elect.ky.gov.

Grimes’ grandmother, who appeared in TV campaign ads, dies

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

Elsie Crawford Case of Maysville, who appeared in TV campaign commercials for her granddaughter, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, died Thursday. She was 84.

“Granny was my biggest fan and fiercest advocate, and knowing she was in my corner always gave me the strength and confidence to dream big and work to make it a reality,” Grimes said in a release.

Case earned a fan base of her own during Grimes’ 2011 campaign for the office of secretary of state, filming commercials and encouraging citizens to vote in the election alongside Thelma Lundergan McHugh, Grimes’ late paternal grandmother.

In 2014, Case expanded her presence, using Facebook and Twitter accounts and her “Grannies for Grimes” initiative to champion issues that particularly affect seniors. Case quickly became known as “Kentucky’s Grandma,” inspiring many and gaining recognition nationwide.

Case and her late husband of 61 years, Omar Case, Jr., were also prominent fixtures in their hometown of Maysville. The Cases owned and operated Case’s Men’s Wear, a men’s clothing store, for more than 30 years and helped revitalize the downtown area.

“As people across Kentucky can attest, Granny’s spirit was infectious. She was not just passionate about what she believed in; she shared that passion along with sharp humor and wit, and a hug for anyone who needed one,” said Grimes.

Case is survived by two children, seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, one brother and three sisters.

Visitation will be at the First Christian Church in Maysville from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday. The funeral will be held Monday, at 1 p.m.

–Jack Brammer

House panel approves elections bills at Grimes’ urging

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — At the urging of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a House committee unanimously approved legislation Tuesday to modernize voter registration.

House Bill 214, sponsored by Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville would allow voters to register online to vote and update their voter registration

“Electronic voter registration is more convenient and secure, saves our county clerks time and money, and results in more accurate voting records,” said Grimes, who noted that it already is in use for military personnel overseas.

She added that 20 other states already use electronic voter registration.

The House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs also unanimously passed HB 212, legislation sponsored by Owens and proposed by Grimes to allow voters who are unable to go to the polls on Election Day due to age, disability or illness to vote in the county clerk’s office prior to the day of the election.

“Under current law, these voters may vote only by casting a mail-in absentee ballot,” said Grimes. “But many people cherish the experience of voting in person, and this bill would preserve that opportunity for them.”

The committee also approved two elections bills.

HB 150, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Thompson, D-Owensboro, would make any candidate for county government who is defeated in a primary election ineligible to run as a write-in candidate for the same office in the general election.

HB 203, sponsored by Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-Greenup, raises the threshold for campaign finance reporting from $1,000 to $3,000.

All the bills now go to the House for its consideration.

Candidates for state offices urged to file before Jan. 27 deadline

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes reminded Monday that persons interested in running for state office this year have until Jan. 27 to file.

But she suggested filing earlier than that in case filing papers need to be corrected.

Kentucky law does not provide an opportunity to correct or re-file paperwork after the filing deadline of 4 p.m. Jan. 27, said Grimes, the state’s chief election official.

The offices of governor and lieutenant Governor, secretary of state, attorney general, auditor of public accounts, state treasure and commissioner of agriculture are on the ballot in Kentucky in 2015.

Candidates may access the filing forms required at http://app.sos.ky.gov/ElectionsDYC/.

–Jack Brammer

Luallen pledges to support Beshear as KY’s new lieutenant governor

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Crit Luallen, in her first public speech as Kentucky’s 56th lieutenant governor, told several hundred people in the Capitol Rotunda Friday that she is ready to help Gov. Steve Beshear with his “continuing efforts to build a Kentucky poised for a prosperous future.”

Luallen, who has served with six other Kentucky governors in high positions and was elected twice as state auditor, said the day was not one for laying out a new agenda but “to celebrate all that is right and good about our state’s past and its hope for the future.”

Luallen particiapted in a publc-swearing in ceremony that attracted various state officials like Attorney General Jack Conway, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Senate President Robert Stivers and other well-wishers.

Beshear named Luallen to be the state’s No. 2 public official to replace Jerry Abramson, who departed to take a job with the White House to help local officials throughout the country.

In his remarks at Friday’s public ceremony, Beshear said Luallen will help his administration in improving access to health care and creating jobs.

Luallen called on several family members and friends to participate in the ceremony.

Tourism Secretary Bob Stewart, who went to school with Luallen, served as moderator.

Catarine Hancock, Luallen’s great niece and a sophomore at Lexington’s Lafayette High School, sang the National Anthem.

The Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, pastor of New Union Christian Church in Woodford County, gave the invocation and Eleanor Jordan, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Women, introduced Luallen.

Franklin Circuit Court Judger Philip Shepherd, administered the public oath of office as Luallen’s husband, Lynn Luallen, held the Bible upon which she put her hand. A private swearing-in ceremony was held Thursday at the home of former Chief Justice John Palmore and Carol Palmore.

Centre College President John Roush provided the closing remarks and Colmon Elridge, executive assistant in the governor’s office, sang “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The Governor’s School for the Arts Alumni offered the musical prelude for the ceremony that lasted about an hour.

A public reception was held in the Governor’s Mansion after the ceremony. Music there was provided by the Centre College Kentucky Ensemble.

Judge denies Grimes’ request to stop GOP mailers

McConnellGrimesBy Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A judge denied a request Monday from Alison Lundergan Grimes’ U.S. Senate campaign to stop mailers from the Republican Party of Kentucky that Grimes said intimidated voters.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd turned down the Grimes campaign’s request for a temporary injunction against the mailers, which were distributed last week on behalf of the re-election campaign of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Kelsey Cooper, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Kentucky, said Grimes’ “sloppy lawsuit may go down in history as one of the worst publicity stunts of all time.”

Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton said the campaign “is exploring options.”

“It’s reprehensible that Mitch McConnell is celebrating lying, intimidating, and bullying Kentucky voters from exercising their right to vote,” Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst said in a statement. “There’s no low too low for Mitch McConnell in his personal quest for power.”

Grimes and McConnell face each other in Tuesday’s biggest election in the state.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the Grimes campaign said the mailer is false and misleading in that it implies to voters that they have violated Kentucky election laws.

The mailer is emblazoned with “Election Violation Notice” and states that “you are at risk of acting on fraudulent information that has been targeted for citizens living in” the recipient’s county.

A one-page letter inside lists what it calls “blatant lies” told by Grimes, saying “Grimes should be ashamed of herself.”

Washington Post fact-checker says ‘Grimes should be ashamed of herself’

McConnellGrimesBy Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is running what is “likely the worst ad of a nasty campaign year,” according to Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post’s fact-checker.

After dissecting a new ad from Grimes, in which she looks at the camera and blames U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the shuttering of half of the Big Sandy power plant in Louisa, Kessler wrote that Grimes “should be ashamed of herself.”

“They are shutting down half the plant and laying off their workers because Mitch McConnell didn’t fight to get the scrubbers it needs to reduce coal emissions,” Grimes says in the ad. “Instead, Mitch and his wife pocketed $600,000 from enemies of coal, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.”

Kessler said the ad is “especially noteworthy” because Grimes repeats a claim that The Washington Post has already given Four Pinocchios, the equivalent of a false rating.

That is a reference to Grimes’ claim that McConnell’s wife, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, was paid $600,000 from enemies of coal.

“Citing a $600,000 number from ‘enemies of coal’ is especially silly, as it mostly involves money from a bank that continues to finance coal companies,” Kessler wrote.

He then goes on to give another Four Pinocchios rating to Grimes latest ad, calling Grimes’ claim that McConnell is to blame for the power plant’s woes “nonsense.”

“First, it’s unclear why a senator would be seeking to provide scrubbers to an investor-owned company,” Kessler wrote. “Second, going the scrubber route would have jacked up utility rates for what is already one of the poorest parts of the state.”

The McConnell campaign, which has also run afoul of the Post’s fact-checking unit, was quick to seize on the ad, said that Grimes’ decision to look into the camera and make debunked claims “raises serious character questions.”

Kessler concludes his fact-check with this: “We realize that the game of politics is sometimes played rough in Kentucky, but this ad is beyond the pale. Indeed, it is likely the worst ad of a nasty campaign year. Grimes should be ashamed of herself.”

Kessler has fact-checked two other ads in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race this month.

One is the previously-mentioned Four Pinocchio ruling on Grimes’ claim that “Mitch McConnell doesn’t want you to know is that he and his wife personally took $600,000 from anti-coal groups, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-coal foundation.”

In the other, Kessler gives Three Pinocchios, the equivalent of a mostly-false rating, to McConnell’s claim that Kynect, Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, is just a website that could continue if the federal health law were repealed.

McConnell’s statements on the subject are “a bit slick and misleading,” Kessler wrote. “If he wants to rip out Obamacare ‘root and branch,’ then he has to explain what he would plant in the health-insurance garden instead. Otherwise his assurances on the future have little credibility.”