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Senate committee approves bill to let Rand Paul run for re-election and president in 2016

State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-GeorgetownUPDATED AT 2:15 P.M.

By Sam Youngman

A revised bill that would allow U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to run for re-election and the presidency on the same Kentucky ballot in 2016 cleared a state Senate committee Wednesday, picking up one Democratic vote along the way.

State Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, joined Republicans on the Senate State and Local Government Committee in voting to send the proposal to the full Senate after it was changed to specify that the bill only applies to candidates running for president or vice president of the United States.

State law now says no candidate can appear on the same ballot twice in a general election. Primary elections appear to be excluded from the current law.

“What this simply does is clarifies that when you have a candidate in the federal delegation who is either seeking the presidency or is chosen to run for the vice presidential seat, that person can also run at the same time for their seat in the United States Senate or the United States Congress,” said Sen. Damon Thayer of his revised bill.

Political Paddock: Rand Paul is on a roll

Sam YoungmanBy Sam Youngman
Herald-Leader Political Writer

In late February, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul played golf with Donald Trump at Trump’s course in Palm Beach. Trump shot par and walked away with the win.

That’s about the only thing that hasn’t gone Paul’s way in 2014 as he continues to eye a run for the White House in 2016.

More than a year removed from the 13-hour filibuster that sent his star rising and less than a year before Paul could announce that he is running for president, Kentucky’s junior senator is winning over skeptics daily.

What once seemed like a parlor game punchline is growing more realistic by the day: Rand Paul could very well win the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

The road map Paul and his team put together — growing his brand outside of Tea Party voters, making inroads with establishment Republican donors, and wooing millennials — appears to be on track.

Black leaders are increasingly inviting Paul to speak and listen to their constituents, top donors are sitting down for lunch with the Tea Party darling — nearly matching what Paul is raising from his strong base of small-dollar donors — and a couple thousand millennials made sure Paul walked away from last weekend’s CPAC convention with his second straight straw-poll win.

Rand Paul to GOP rivals: Sell your own ideas and stop mischaracterizing mine

RandPaulFelonVotingBy Sam Youngman

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has noticed that some of his would-be rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination are using this week’s Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) meeting to portray him as a foreign policy isolationist.

“I think people ought to spend their time trying to sell their own ideas instead of trying to mischaracterize mine,” Paul said Friday.

Hours before Paul was set to speak at CPAC, a conference that is in many ways the first audition for Republican presidential candidates, Kentucky’s junior senator told the Herald-Leader his position on what is happening in the Ukraine is in line with what most Americans are thinking.

Paul said neither Republicans nor Democrats are calling for military intervention in the region, where Crimea is attempting to secede from the Ukraine amid a heavy Russian military presence, drawing sharp rebukes the U.S.

“So I’m definitely within the mainstream of opinion that I’m not proposing we send soldiers to the Ukraine,” Paul said.

As The New York Times reported Friday, potential candidates such as Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio have used the CPAC conference to not only stake out hawkish positions on Russia, but also to portray Paul as outside the mainstream of the party, following his father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, on a policy of nonintervention.

No bill filed yet in Senate to allow Rand Paul to run for U.S. Senate and president in 2016


FRANKFORT — Friday is the last day for filing new bills in the Republican-controlled state Senate and no bill has yet come forward to allow U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to run for the U.S. Senate and the presidency in 2016, Senate President Robert Stivers said Wednesday.

Stivers, R-Manchester, said he did not know if such a bill will materialize.

“There’s been quite a bit of discusssion on it,” he said.

Stivers said some states allow federal officeholders like Paul to run for their federal seat while being on the ballot for president or vice president.

Paul, R-Bowling Green, has indicated that he may run for president in 2016. He also is up for re-election that year for the U.S. Senate.

Stivers noted that there always could be a court challenge to the Kentucky law that prohibits a candidate for running for more than one office.

–Jack Brammer

Rand Paul says rocker Ted Nugent should apologize for calling Obama ‘subhuman mongrel’

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul talks with media before the vice presidential debate at Centre College. Photo by Jack Brammer. By Sam Youngman

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said in a tweet Thursday that rocker Ted Nugent, known in recent years for some outrageous political comments, should apologize for calling President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel.”

Nugent has come under fire this week for his remarks, and on Thursday, Paul said in a tweet that the remark was “offensive.”

“Ted Nugent’s derogatory description of President Obama is offensive and has no place in politics. He should apologize,” Paul tweeted.

Nugent made the remark last month to, but it has gained more attention as the singer of “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Stranglehold” has hit the campaign trail with Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Nugent earned himself a visit from the Secret Service after he said he would be “dead or in jail” if Obama won another term.

Senate panel okays amendment to restore felon voting rights after adding 5-year waiting period

RandPaulFelonVotingBy Sam Youngman

FRANKFORT — A constitutional amendment that would restore the voting rights of ex-felons who complete a five-year waiting period without further criminal offenses won unanimous approval in a Senate committee Wednesday despite reservations voiced by Democrats.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul testified before the committee, urging progress on the issue that has repeatedly passed the Democrat-led House in recent years but failed to gain traction in the Republican-led Senate.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jesse Crenshaw of Lexington, joined Senate Democrats on the committee in expressing disdain for a substitute version of the bill that is expected to pass the full Senate later Wednesday afternoon.

Crenshaw and others said adding a five-year waiting period, which was proposed by state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, does not improve House Bill 70 “in any form or fashion.”

“I cannot go forward with saying I am in favor of the committee substitute,” Crenshaw said.

Thayer said the waiting period is “reasonable” and the only way to get Republicans to sign onto the measure. He drew the ire of a packed committee room by saying he expected “some level of gratitude” for finding a compromise that could pass.

“I’m trying to break the logjam and keep this moving,” Thayer said.

If the bill passes the Senate Wednesday as expected, then leaders of the House and Senate are expected to appoint a conference committee to hammer out a compromise bill. If the two sides can agree, voters would decide the constitutional amendment’s fate at the ballot box in November.

Crenshaw’s measure passed the House in January 82-12.

Kentucky Senate appears poised to approve constitutional amendment on felon voting rights

State Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-LexingtonBy Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT — After years of languishing in the Republican-led Senate, a constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights for most ex-felons appears poised to win legislative approval Wednesday at the behest of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

The full Senate is expected to sign off on the proposal Wednesday afternoon, following a scheduled appearance by Paul to push the bill through the Senate State and Local Government Committee at noon, said Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.

“I think it has a good chance of passing,” Stivers said Tuesday afternoon.

House Bill 70, sponsored by state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, has already cleared the state House. If the Senate approves the bill with no changes, voters would decide the amendment’s fate at the ballot box in November. If changes are made, the House must approve the revised version of the bill or set up a committee to negotiate a compromise.

Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, has said previously that he could not support HB 70 in its current form. Instead, Thayer said he might be able to vote for the proposal if it is changed to include a five-year waiting period for each qualified ex-felon, “to make sure they do nothing wrong during that time.”

Stivers said he has not yet decided how he will vote on the measure.

“There is support,” he said. “I’m not a micro-manager of issues.”

Stivers said Paul, a potential candidate for president in 2016, will not be addressing the full Senate. He said Paul must leave the Capitol before the Senate convenes at 2 p.m.

The bill would affect about 180,000 ex-felons who have completed their sentences, but it would not apply to those who have committed intentional murder, rape, sodomy or a sexual offense with a minor.

Under current law, ex-felons must petition the governor for a partial pardon to restore their right to vote.

Speaking to largely black audiences, Paul has criticized the War on Drugs for locking up a disproportionate number of black youths and taking away their constitutional rights.

“I think particularly for nonviolent drug crimes, where people made a youthful mistake, I think they ought to get their rights back,” Paul said in a Louisville speech last September.

The state House gave Crenshaw, who is retiring this year, a standing ovation last month for his persistence over the years in pushing the constitutional amendment, then voted 82-12 to send his measure to the Senate.

Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul and James Comer hitting the road together

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer will travel together through Eastern Kentucky next week.

McConnell and Paul are speaking at an event Comer is hosting in Knott County that is being billed as a “special announcement” for Eastern Kentucky.

From there, the trio will travel to participate in meet-and-greet events and a community forum in the eastern part of the state.

Paul and Comer continue to be two of the most popular elected Republicans in the state, while McConnell faces a primary challenge from Louisville businessman Matt Bevin.

Political Paddock: The price of Mitch McConnell’s unpopularity

Sam YoungmanBy Sam Youngman
Herald-Leader Political Writer

It’s tough to be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell these days.

One day he’s praised for helping “save” more than 2,000 jobs in the Lexington area. A week later, he’s down by 4 points in a poll looking at his re-election prospects.

The Bluegrass Poll, which came out last week and shows McConnell trailing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes 46 percent to 42 percent, revealed a number of trends that will shape the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

But McConnell’s negative job-approval and favorability ratings tell the story of the race so far.

The numbers show that McConnell is well-known, but not particularly well-liked. (Sixty percent of registered voters disapprove of his job performance and 50 percent have an unfavorable view of him.)

He now has the hard, if not impossible, task of reintroducing himself to voters who have known him for 30 years. It hurts the senator exponentially if the negative feelings voters have about him override any good news that McConnell can generate.

The Jan. 31 event at Bluegrass Station, a military industrial park, is the perfect example.

Rand Paul ramps up criticism of Bill Clinton as former president plans trip to Ky.

Rand Paul spoke Oct. 23, 2013, in Morehead. Kentucky's junior senator made 15 stops at restaurants and small rallies in the state during the week. Photo by John Flavell.
By Sam Youngman

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has stepped up his blistering criticism of Bill Clinton, saying Democrats who take money from the former president should either return it or not “take a position on women’s rights.”

Paul’s comments, set to air Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” come as likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Friday that Clinton will campaign in Kentucky on her behalf later this month.

Paul, in the C-SPAN interview, said Democrats “can’t have it both ways.”

“The Democrats can’t say ‘Oh we’re the great defenders of women’s rights in the workplace, and we will defend you against some kind of abusive boss that uses their position of authority to take advantage of a young woman’ when the leader of their party, the leading fundraiser in the country, is Bill Clinton, who was a perpetrator of that kind of sexual harassment,” Paul said.

Grimes, who has made the Republican “war on women” central to her campaign so far, said Friday that Clinton will campaign with her in Louisville on Feb. 25. She said Clinton has indicated he wants to make the Kentucky Senate race his top priority this year.