A short list of Kentucky Republican all-stars has in recent days recorded automated phone calls on behalf of a Republican state House candidate in Western Kentucky, but U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is not among them.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer have all recorded calls advocating support for Suzanne Miles in Tuesday’s special election in the 7th House District against Democrat Kim Humphrey.
McConnell’s name adorns the state party’s headquarters, making it’s absence on the list of Republicans recording calls conspicuous.
Miles told the Lexington Herald-Leader late Sunday that she didn’t ask McConnell — or any other GOP officials — to record calls on her behalf. Miles has previously noted that McConnell was the first person to give her a check for her campaign, and she said Sunday that he has “been supportive since day one.”
In polling, a high rate of Kentuckians have consistently said they have a negative view of McConnell, numbers that have led analysts to almost universally declare McConnell’s seat in jeopardy.
By John Cheves
FRANKFORT — Kentucky lawmakers will be asked for $2.3 billion in public pension contributions this winter as they prepare the state’s next two-year budget, potentially diverting more than 10 percent of the budget for the retirement benefits of state workers and school teachers.
The chief pension fund that covers more than 90,600 current and former state workers has $2.6 billion in assets and $11.3 billion in assumed liabilities, making it only 23 percent funded, actuarial advisers told the Kentucky Retirement Systems’ board of trustees on Thursday.
That funding level has dropped for years, from 52 percent in 2008 to 27 percent last year. It puts Kentucky at or near the bottom in most state pension rankings.
Pension experts say a funding level of less than 80 percent is problematic because a cash-starved benefits system can’t make lucrative long-term investments, and it eventually can’t keep mailing out monthly checks without draining money from other public services, such as schools and roads.
The General Assembly has made attempts at “pension reform” — including Senate Bill 2 earlier this year, which reduced benefits for future state workers — but it’s extremely difficult to climb out of the hole dug by two decades of underfunding by governors and lawmakers, pension officials said.
Richard Moloney, an independent candidate in Tuesday’s special election in Lexington for the state Senate, questions the trustworthiness of his Democratic opponent, Reginald Thomas, in a mailer sent to voters this week.
The mailer refers to a Lexington Herald-Leader article published last month about questions that surrounded Thomas’ departure from the University of Kentucky, where he was an assistant law professor in 1984. He now is an attorney and professor at Kentucky State University.
Documents obtained by the newspaper under the state Open Records Act revealed that questions were raised at the time about his teaching methods and “lack of quotation marks … in two articles.”
“If we couldn’t trust Reggie then, how can we trust him now?” the mailer asks.
On Thursday, Thomas chalked Moloney’s accusations up to “politics,” saying that “everyone who knows me knows I’m trustworthy.”
Moloney’s criticism “will not resonate with the voters of the district,” Thomas said. “We can let the voters decide if they consider me trustworthy.”
The Moloney mailer, along with several sent by the Kentucky Democratic Party that incorrectly label Moloney a Republican, reflect the growing tension in the race to replace Democrat Kathy Stein in the state Senate.
The battle to replace Kathy Stein in the state Senate has expanded to television.
Two of the three candidates in the Dec. 10 special election — Democrat Reginald Thomas and independent Richard Moloney — have TV ads supporting their campaigns.
Moloney, a former Lexington council member and city official, claims in his 30-second ad that he is the “proven” candidate in the race. He started airing the ad on Monday.
Thomas, an attorney and Kentucky State University professor, emphasizes in his 15-second ad that he is the “real Democrat” in the race. It started airing Wednesday.
The 13th Senate District is more than 2-to-1 Democratic in party registration. It covers much of Lexington inside New Circle Road, including downtown and the University of Kentucky, but also extends south of Man o’ War Boulevard near Richmond Road.
Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, called the special election in October after he appointed Stein, a Democrat, to a Fayette Circuit Court judgeship. The winner will serve the remainder of Stein’s term, which runs through the end of 2016.
By Sam Youngman
Herald-Leader Political Writer
The famous psychic Edgar Cayce was born near Hopkinsville.
He died in 1945, but Cayce would have a better chance of telling you the results of next November’s U.S. Senate race than anything that might be gleaned from next week’s special elections in Lexington and Western Kentucky.
While it’s tempting and oftentimes worthwhile to look at off-year special elections as gauges of voter moods and priorities and the strengths of a federal campaign’s ground game, the Dec. 10 elections for the state House and Senate won’t tell you anything about next November.
Trying to learn something about a statewide race from Lexington’s 13th Senate District, where voters will chose someone to replace Democrat Kathy Stein, is a nonstarter. The district, which primarily covers downtown Lexington and the University of Kentucky, is significantly more liberal and more black than the rest of the state.
If there was a race to use as a bellwether — resist the temptation — it would be in the House 7th District, which covers Union County and portions of Henderson and Daviess counties. In that race, Democrat Kim Humphrey and Republican Suzanne Miles are battling it out to replace Democratic state Rep. John Arnold, who resigned earlier this year amid accusations of sexual harassment.
But there’s not a lot to learn there, except that a Democrat is running surprisingly strong in an area that has grown increasingly conservative.
By Sam Youngman
The three candidates hoping to replace Kathy Stein in the state’s 13th Senate District kept their elbows in Sunday, sticking to the issues instead of attacks that have framed the race in recent days.
Democrat Reggie Thomas and independent Richard Moloney, a former Democrat, varied little on the issues put before them at Operation Turnout’s candidate forum at Greater Liberty Baptist Church. Only Republican Michael Johnson, a former Democrat, broke sharply from the field, especially on charter schools and “stand your ground” laws.
Thomas and Moloney have been trading barbs in the days leading up to the Dec. 10 special election to replace Stein, who was appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear to a Fayette Circuit Court judgeship in October.
The most recent exchange came after Thomas’ camp accused Moloney, a Democrat until about six weeks ago, of being a Republican, a potentially dangerous label in a district that leans left.
Moloney contended Thomas’ campaign made the accusation in a mailer while neglecting to note the 34 years Moloney said he was a Democrat, or that Moloney served as Beshear’s housing, buildings and construction commissioner for three years.
On Sunday, moderator Patrice Muhammad sought clarity on the matter as she noted that all three men have been Democrats and asked them to “please explain your current party affiliation or non-affiliation and which party you intend to caucus with if elected.”
FRANKFORT — Reginald Thomas, a Lexington Democrat running for state Senate in a Dec. 10 special election, said Friday he doesn’t know why he was denied tenure and faced possible termination from his job as an assistant law professor at the University of Kentucky in 1984.
Documents obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader under the state Open Records Act reveal that questions were raised at the time about his teaching methods and “lack of quotation marks … in two articles.”
In a memo dated May 2, 1984, then-UK Chancellor Art Gallaher wrote that Thomas had asked him to investigate a decision by then-College of Law Dean Robert G. Lawson to deny Thomas tenure and terminate his employment. Gallaher wrote that Thomas told him “discrimination may be involved.”
Thomas, a 1978 graduate of Harvard Law School, said he was the first black law professor at UK, where he taught business law beginning in August 1980. He resigned from the university on October 31, 1984 to become general counsel at Kentucky State University, where he is now an attorney and tenured professor.
If elected in the three-person race for the Senate’s 13th District seat, Thomas would represent an area that primarily covers the University of Kentucky and downtown Lexington. Thomas and two others — independent Richard Moloney and Republican Michael Johnson — are seeking to replace Democrat Kathy Stein, who was appointed to a Fayette Circuit Court judgeship in October.
In his 1984 memo, Gallaher said Thomas had visited his office the previous day “to report his displeasure with the majority tenured faculty/dean’s decision to terminate him.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, prefiled two bills Wednesday to expand gambling in Kentucky.
One of his measures calls for a constitutional amendment to let Kentucky voters decide in November 2014 whether they want casino gambling in the state. The other bill outlines a plan to license and regulate casino gambling at five horse racetracks and three stand-alone casinos.
Clark’s proposal comes on the heels of an effort by a pro-casino group named “Kentucky Wins!” to push for a constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Kentucky. The Kentucky School Boards Association announced Wednesday that it backs “Kentucky Wins!”
The Kentucky legislature has debated expanded gambling for more than 20 years. It appears the issue will be on the front-burner again in the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly that begins in January.
Clark, who has worked on casino legislation for 20 years, said his plan adopts the best parts from previous attempts.
The legislation could generate $286 million a year for the state, he said.
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The state Senate will use the newly drawn legislative district boundaries in informing constituents who represents them in Kentucky’s General Assembly.
At a recent meeting of legislative leaders, House Democratic leaders said they favored using the old district maps from which lawmakers were elected.
But Senate Republicans sided with the new maps drawn in a special session in August. They said the new maps became law when the bill, which had an emergency clause on it, was enacted.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Friday the Senate will direct legislative staffers to use the new maps “for all purposes with respect to the state Senate.”
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said without elaboration, “As for the new districts, everyone agrees that the new lines will be followed in the next election, and we look forward to answering inquiries from our new constituents.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – Democrat Reginald Thomas holds a lead over his two opponents in raising funds for the Dec. 10 special election in Lexington to succeed Kathy Stein in the state Senate.
Thomas, an attorney and professor at Kentucky State University, reported in papers filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance that his campaign has raised $82,121.
Independent candidate Richard Moloney, a former Lexington council member and official, reported receipts of $52,355, while Republican Michael Johnson, a minister, took in $2,540.
That makes Thomas and Moloney competitive financially in the race, while Johnson has much catching up to do in fund raising.
Gov. Steve Beshear called the special election in the heavily Democratic 13th Senate District shortly after he appointed Democrat Stein to a Fayette Circuit Court judgeship Oct. 14. The district covers downtown Lexington and the University of Kentucky.
The winner will serve the remainder of Stein’s term, which runs through the end of 2016.
State lawmakers altered the boundaries of the 13th Senate District during a special legislative session in August, but it remains more than 2-to-1 Democratic.
All three candidates in the special election were Democrats earlier this year but Moloney and Johnson changed their party registration to run in the race.