FRANKFORT – Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who now is director of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, is one of 10 members of President Barack Obama’s Commission on Election Administration.
Obama launched the panel this week to identify non-partisan ways to shorten lines at polling places, promote efficient conduct of elections and provide better access to the polls for voters.
The commission is to submit a final report to Obama within six months of its first public meeting, which is expected to be held in Washington in June.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Franklin Circuit Judge Philip Shepherd said Monday he plans to make a ruling as soon as possible on Gov. Steve Beshear’s request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the legality of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange.
Tea Party activist David Adams filed a lawsuit against the exchange earlier this year, claiming that Beshear did not receive “proper approval” from the Kentucky General Assembly to create the exchange. He is seeking an injunction against Beshear’s executive order until the Democratic governor receives legislative approval.
Beshear issued an executive order last July to establish the online marketplace without the input of state lawmakers. The exchange will offer health insurance plans for Kentuckians beginning Jan. 1, as called for by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Beshear said last week that the exchange will help 332,000 Kentuckians in need of health care coverage. The exchange will be financed entirely with federal dollars until Jan. 1, 2015, after which Beshear has said it will be wholly financed with revenue it generates.
After a hearing Monday in Franklin Circuit Court on the exchange lawsuit, Adams said he filed another lawsuit Monday challenging Beshear’s recent decision to expand the state’s Medicaid rolls under the federal health law. Adams was surrounded by about 25 Tea Party supporters as he announced the lawsuit.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – Veteran political consultant Jim Cauley is working for the Democratic campaign of James L. Kay II in the special state House 56th District race in Central Kentucky.
Kay, a Woodford County attorney, confirmed Wednesday that Cauley, a former chief of staff for Gov. Steve Beshear, is his campaign consultant in the race.
That drew an immediate response from state Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson, who noted that Cauley was campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois.
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington,is welcoming First Lady Michelle Obama to Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District with an expressed hope she learns more about coal.
Mrs. Obama is to be the commencement speaker Saturday at Eastern Kentucky University, which is be attended by Gov. Steve Beshear and Kentucky’s First Lady Jane Beshear.
PIKEVILLE — The federal government would face a deadline to issue or deny surface-mining permits under legislation Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he will file next week.
McConnell said Monday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has failed to act on dozens of proposed permits for surface mines in Eastern Kentucky, holding up some for years as coal jobs in the region plummet.
Repeating a familiar theme as he ramps up for a re-election campaign in 2014, McConnell said the EPA’s inaction is part of the Obama Administration’s attack on the coal industry.
“The war on coal waged by this administration is costing Kentucky our jobs, our livelihoods and indeed, our future,” McConnell told a receptive audience gathered in a cavernous repair bay at Whayne Supply Company in Pikeville.
McConnell acknowledged in a later speech to the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Pikeville that it will be hard to get the proposed legislation through the Democrat-led U.S. Senate, but said he is trying to bring attention to the problem. He said Kentucky’s junior senator, Republican Rand Paul of Bowling Green, will co-sponsor the legislation.
FRANKFORT — A new, independent super PAC is being formed to help U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in his re-election bid next year.
Kentuckians for Strong Leadership announced Tuesday in an email that it is filing incorporation papers with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.
“President Obama and his liberal allies know they can’t achieve the rest of their big government agenda unless they take out Senator Mitch McConnell, and we will raise and spend whatever it takes to prevent that from happening,” said Scott Jennings, the PAC’s senior advisor in a statement.
He added: “We expect to set new records for independent political action to ensure that McConnell can keep fighting for Kentucky jobs and our way of life.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell depicts himself as a victim of “dirty” attacks by liberals and President Barack Obama’s “No. 1 target” in a TV ad that begins airing Friday.
McConnell’s campaign said it has spent more than $100,000 to air the ad statewide on cable and broadcast stations. It is the Republican candidate’s second TV ad even though the election is more than a year away and no major candidate has announced to run against him.
The 30-second ad, titled “How Dirty?”, features a female narrator who says, “Mitch McConnell is Obama’s number one target because Mitch protects Kentucky from Obama’s bad ideas. Liberals will do anything to beat McConnell.”
Obama, a Democrat, remains unpopular in Kentucky. Early in the president’s first term, McConnell said his “single most important goal” as Republican Senate leader was to make Obama a one-term president. Obama was re-elected last year.
By David Lightman and Jack Brammer — email@example.com
WASHINGTON — Day after day in the last month, Mitch McConnell’s angry words, aimed squarely at Democrats and their “hard left” constituency, pierced the congressional calm.
The U.S. Senate Republican leader’s daily blasts at Democrats on the Senate floor contrast sharply with the let’s-get-along attitude that’s wafted through the Capitol since Election Day. While House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has publicly preached cooperation, McConnell plays bulldog.
Part of his hard charge may be a concession to 2014, when he’s up for re-election in a state where a Tea Party primary challenge could create problems if he’s not forceful enough standing up to a Democratic president who didn’t do well in Kentucky. Part of his style also is standard for savvy insiders such as McConnell: Talk and act tough but be willing to cut a deal at the right time.
McConnell says he remains eager for a compromise on avoiding the “fiscal cliff,” including new tax revenues. He met Thursday with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and he said he’d back capping income-tax deductions for the wealthy.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler and his Republican challenger, Andy Barr, defended their opposing positions on the federal auto bailout during campaign stops Wednesday in a district laden with auto jobs.
After speaking to a group of senior citizens, Chandler told the Lexington Herald-Leader he was proud of his 2008 vote for the $85 billion rescue plan for automakers Chrysler Corp. and General Motors.
The auto bailout sparked renewed interest nationally this week after a heated exchange about it Monday night in the final debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Barr, who narrowly lost to Chandler in the 2010 race for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, has repeatedly accused Chandler of needlessly raising the national debt by supporting Obama’s spending initiatives. Chandler also voted for the $800 billion economic stimulus plan in 2009, but he opposed the $700 billion bank bailout in 2008.
Toyota, which employs about 6,700 full-time workers in Georgetown at its largest North American plan, favored the emergency loan plan, Chandler said.
By Jack Brammer — firstname.lastname@example.org
FRANKFORT — In the tight race for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District seat, Republican Andy Barr and groups supporting him have intensified efforts in recent days to tie Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler to President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in Kentucky.
“I am most proud to endorse Sen. Barack Obama, a man of whom I can proudly say, I know I’ve picked a winner,” Chandler says in a Barr TV ad that has blanketed Lexington TV stations over the past week.
Barr, who lost to Chandler by 648 votes two years ago, began running a new ad Monday that does not mention Chandler by name but criticizes Obama for “stifling regulations that are killing small businesses.”
Meanwhile, two outside groups — the National Republican Congressional Committee and Americans for Tax Reform — have begun hammering Chandler for supporting Obama.