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.
Former U.S. Senate candidate and gubernatorial hopeful Matt Bevin appeared on a conservative radio show Wednesday where he continued to needle U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and questioned U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s sincerity in endorsing McConnell.
Bevin, appearing on the Wednesday edition of Wilkow Majority, was asked by host Andrew Wilkow if he watched Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes campaign against McConnell, after the senator defeated Bevin in the primary, and wondered if he could’ve beat her.
“I kid you not — I’d have beaten her more handily,” Bevin said.
Throughout the interview, Bevin levied shots at a number of the state’s political figures, hitting Grimes (“She’s no Hillary Clinton.”), Attorney General Jack Conway (“The embodiment of everything that is wrong with the plastic career politicians in this country.”) and McConnell’s “buzz saw” campaign.
“I’ve been through the buzz saw indeed,” Bevin said. “And I’ll tell you something, I don’t begrudge any of that that went down. That is the nature sadly of what politics has become.”
Wilkow, who joined the group Freedom Works at a Bevin for Senate rally last spring, joked with Bevin about Grimes’ refusal to say whether she voted for President Barack Obama.
“They had clearly not pre-selected the sound-byte that she was to be provided, and it’s a shame,” Bevin said. “Unfortunately, as a result of that, Kentucky didn’t really have it’s best foot out forward perhaps on that side from the Democrats.”
Bevin also appeared to quibble with McConnell’s stewardship of the U.S. Senate since he became majority leader last month.
“The solutions to what is gonna fix America are not coming from the top down,” Bevin said. “You look already, we have majorities now in congress and in the Senate, and look we’re making some of the same excuses we made when we didn’t.”
Josh Holmes, the senior adviser to McConnell’s re-election campaign, said in an email Thursday afternoon that “at some point you have to start asking whether Matt Bevin should be medicated.”
“The guy has no grasp on reality whatsoever and his delusions of grandeur are simply breathtaking,” Holmes said.
Wilkow described Paul, who endorsed McConnell in his re-election effort, as someone who endorsed the establishment candidate but was torn in doing so, asking Bevin if it was “painful” that Paul did not endorse him.
Bevin said Paul reminded him of “the Violent Femmes song ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?'” Wilkow corrected Bevin, noting that it was The Clash who sang that song.
“I know Rand well,” Bevin said, calling Paul’s endorsement of McConnell a “conscientious decision.”
“I’ve known him from the beginning,” Bevin said. “I was one of the people who supported him early on and maxed out when others didn’t.”
When asked if he thought either McConnell or Paul might endorse him in his race to be governor, Bevin said he had every indication both would stay neutral, calling that the “proper thing to do.”
While he largely spared his current Republican opponents, Bevin repeated that his life experience and “knowledge of issues” separates him from the three Republicans running against him.
“I would love to just have a debate at any moment in time with any of the candidates in this race,” Bevin said.
The candidate closed out the show by noting that while much of the audience doesn’t live in Kentucky, they should check out his website and contribute to his campaign.
By Jack Brammer firstname.lastname@example.org FRANKFORT – Luke Morgan, a Lexington attorney with experience in trial court and state administrative hearings, is considering a possible run as a Republican for state attorney general in 2015. Morgan, 51, said Tuesday he has not yet made a decision on whether to run to be the state’s chief law-enforcement […]
By Jack Brammer
A memorial service in Lexington has been scheduled for Larry Van Hoose, a gubernatorial press secretary, aide to congressmen and director of the state Republican Party who died last month in Cape Coral, Fla. He was 76.
The service will be Nov. 1 at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home at 3421 Harrodsburg Road.
Visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. and a memorial program will start at 10:30 a.m.
Van Hoose, after working as a stringer for Sports Illustrated, was press secretary and aide for Republican Louie B. Nunn, who was governor from 1967 to 1971.
After working in the Nunn administration, Van Hoose was executive director of the Kentucky Republican Party before becoming chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Larry Hopkins of Lexington. He later worked for other Republican congressmen, including Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, Martin Hoke of Ohio and J.D. Hayworth of Arizona.
Van Hoose was preceded in death by his wife Martelle. He is survived by two sons, Todd and Howard, and two grandchildren.
Republican Hal Heiner gave $4 million of his own money to his campaign for governor during the second fundraising quarter of the year, Heiner’s campaign said Monday.
Heiner, a wealthy businessman and former Louisville Metro councilman, reported to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance that he had more than $3.9 million in cash on hand at the end of June after having amassed a total of more than $4.3 million since getting in the race in early March.
“It is going to take a political outsider to bring much needed changes to Frankfort, and Hal’s success in job attraction and growing a business makes him ideal for the job of governor,” campaign manager Joe Burgan said. “It is obvious that Hal is deeply committed to public service, and believes that the future of Kentucky is worth investing in.”
Heiner gave his campaign $200,000 during the first three months of the year and raised about $86,000.
While Heiner is the only announced Republican candidate for governor, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told the Herald-Leader last week that he will announce his intentions in late July or early August, with an official announcement likely in mid-September.
Comer said Monday he was not surprised by the massive cash injection Heiner made to his campaign.
“I believe with all my heart that you cannot buy a race for governor,” Comer told the Herald-Leader. “You need grassroots support, and I do not see that support for Hal Heiner as I travel around the state.”
Some leftover notes from Saturday’s Republican Lincoln Day dinner in Louisville
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went off-script Saturday night when he praised Matt Bevin, the senator’s rival for the Republican nomination just a few weeks ago.
“We don’t own these seats,” McConnell said. “We don’t own the nomination, and we don’t own the general election. And none of us are above having competition and having to fight to represent our party in the general election.”
To that end, McConnell recognized and asked Bevin to stand, telling the crowd that the Louisville businessman who garnered 35 percent of the GOP vote in the May 20 primary “made me a better candidate going into November.”
Bevin stood as the crowd applauded, but after the dinner, as he stood at the end of a small receiving line in the corner of the emptying ballroom, Bevin was not in the mood to talk about McConnell, or anything else, with the Herald-Leader.
A small but steady stream of people lined up to thank Bevin for running, offer condolences or words of encouragement. One man told Bevin that he was “sorry what happened happened, but…,” trailing off as he pointed to the “Team Mitch” sticker on his chest.
“You got battles to fight, brother,” Bevin replied.
When Bevin was asked if he also had that battle to fight, or whether he might endorse McConnell, Bevin turned his back after responding: “I’m at a place where I’m talking to people.”
Rand Paul talks marijuana
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, in his remarks at the dinner, continued his call for reforming federal sentencing guidelines for drug-related crimes. Given the meager smattering of applause that greeted Paul when he changed the subject to criminal justice reform, the senator might have felt compelled to explain that he is no fan of marijuana use.
“I’m not saying any of this is good,” Paul said. “In fact, I think Colorado might have gone too far. I really think that drugs, even marijuana, they’re not benign drugs. They’re bad for our kids. People who use it all the time are wasting their lives, they’re never going to get ahead. But kids make mistakes.”
McConnell predicts Republican midterm ‘wave’
After being introduced at the dinner by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as “the next majority leader of the United States Senate,” McConnell offered his usual cheery assessment of Republican hopes for taking back the upper chamber.
“We’re going to have a good election this year, we just don’t know how good yet,” McConnell said. “There’s going to be a wave. It may be a little wave, a medium-sized wave or a tsunami.”
The senator closed his remarks with what sounded like a new campaign refrain: “On Nov. 4, Kentucky will lead the Senate.”
By Sam Youngman
A national campaign committee will help Kentucky Republicans this year in their effort to take control of the state House for the first time in almost a century.
The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee has spent more than $1 million on legislative races in Kentucky since 2008, and according to a memo provided to the Herald-Leader, the committee plans to play big in the Bluegrass State again this year.
“We believe we’ve got a great shot in Kentucky,” said Justin Richards, political director for the RLCC. “We’ve already invested $1 million in legislative races since 2008 and expect the dwindling Democrat majority and our better candidates to put us in a position to invest a record amount of resources to ensure Republicans capture control.”
The RLCC spent more than $400,000 in Kentucky during the 2010 election cycle and more than $355,000 in 2012. The group spent more than $200,000 in Kentucky last year. The group spent more than $200,000 in Kentucky last year and expects to top its previous spending records this year.
“In the Bluegrass State, Republicans have the momentum, plan and money to win the majority,” according to the memo.
Democrats now hold a 54-46 majority in the House, where they have maintained control since 1921. The RLCC said it has identified nine seats Republicans can win in November.
Daniel Logsdon, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said Thursday that he’s confident Democratic House candidates will have plenty of money to compete this fall and that voters will reject the “radical, obstructionist, Washington D.C.-style politics that House Republicans want to bring to Frankfort.”
“Kentuckians do not want to see a war on education, on working families, on voting rights, and on women that has happened in other states where Republicans control the state legislature,” Logsdon said in a statement. “Kentuckians want their legislators from both parties to come together to work with Gov. Beshear to move the state forward.”
By Sam Youngman
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said on CNN’s “Crossfire” Monday night that Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is “not my leader.”
Santorum, who was one of the last remaining Republican presidential candidates in the field in 2012 after a narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses, was pressed by host and former Obama administration official Van Jones about whether Paul, a possible contender for the 2016 Republican nomination, is the leader of the party.
“Well, no, he’s not my leader,” Santorum said. “I can tell you that for sure. But his father and I had some disagreements during the last campaign.”
Jones pressed Santorum, saying “if a Libertarian like” Paul wins the nomination, would the former Pennsylvania senator vote for him.
“Well, I don’t think that will happen,” Santorum said. “Because the Republican Party is not a libertarian party. It is a conservative party. And it will nominate a conservative, not a libertarian.”
By Sam Youngman
In a dining room at the Triple Crown Country Club in Union, a group of Northern Kentucky Republicans gathered in late February to announce they were revving up a dormant Super PAC with the goal of flipping the state House to GOP control.
After speaking, Richard Knock, a prolific Republican fundraiser and chairman of AmeriGOP, opened the meeting up for a discussion, leading one audience member to suggest that Republicans create a written philosophy for the 2014 elections similar to the “Contract with America” that congressional Republicans rode to control of the U.S. House in 1994.
On Thursday, Knock’s group announced its “Contract with Kentucky,” a list of 10 economic beliefs that candidates must share to win the financial backing of the group.
Noting recent job loss announcements at Toyota in Erlanger and Fruit of the Loom in Jamestown, Knock said that “the loss of more than a thousand Kentucky jobs calls for bold action.”
“We want people to know that the AmeriGOP is raising money to send men and women to Frankfort who will support reforms that ensure we don’t lose one more company to states like Texas that are charging forward with conservative policies,” Knock said.
According to a news release first obtained by the Herald-Leader, the group’s 10 guiding principals are “job-friendly policies; opposition to over-regulation of energy and natural resources, particularly the coal industry; health care liability reform; opposition to redistribution of tax dollars; telecommunications reform; debt reduction; eliminating job-killing regulations; pension transparency; amending the tax structure; and pushing back against government takeover of our health care system.”
“If current leadership in the Kentucky House of Representatives won’t move Kentucky forward, then we will move forward with candidates who will put Kentucky’s interests first,” Knock said. “Like most business owners in Kentucky, I am so tired of watching my state get left in the dust while our surrounding states pass this legislation.”
Democrats hold a 54-46 majority in the House.
At the February announcement, Knock said the group would not get involved in primaries, releasing a list of candidates the Super PAC planned to raise money for that includes Keith Travis in the 6th District, Alan Braden in the 13th, Alex LaRue in the 24th, Jim DuPlessis in the 25th, Jerry Miller in the 36th, Jonah Mitchell in the 39th, Mike Nemes in the 49th, James Allen Tipton in the 53rd, Mark Hart in the 78th, and George Myers in Lexington’s 79th District, which is represented by Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom.
Knock’s group helped elect U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in 2010 and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie in 2012.
The Republican Party of Kentucky has begun the tricky task of trying to unify its party nearly three weeks before GOP primary voters choose between U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Louisville challenger Matt Bevin.
The state party is asking the candidates to sign a letter pledging their support for the Republican nominee. McConnell and Bevin were notified Tuesday that the letter, addressed to “fellow Republicans,” will be mailed to the candidates Wednesday morning in hopes that they will sign it before the May 20 election.
“We stand united to help ensure GOP unity for the general election next November,” the pledge reads. “We pledge our full endorsement and support to the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate immediately following the declaration of a winner in the primary election on the night of May 20, 2014.”
McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in an email Tuesday that “from day one, Sen. McConnell has committed to supporting the winner of the primary election. ”
“The stakes of this election are too high to give President Obama another vote in the U.S. Senate with Alison Lundergan Grimes,” Moore said.
A spokesperson for Bevin had no immediate comment.