politics

LRC Public Information

With an expected 30 percent (or less) voter turnout in Tuesday's primary elections, about 930,000 Kentuckians will take to the polls to determine which candidates will appear on the ballot during this fall's general election.

Kentucky political observers will be looking to see what impact the election's outcome will have on the Kentucky Democratic Party's bid to retain control of the state House against a Republican challenge.

With 23 seats contested in the House, here's a quick look at some of the races that will add clarity to that question:

District 10. Western Kentucky state Rep. Ben Waide, a Republican, has announced he'll be seeking Hopkins County judge-executive post, leaving the field wide open to three Republicans and a lone Democrat vying for a chance to replace him. Waide replaced longtime Democratic incumbent Eddie Ballard in 2010, besting Democratic opponent Michael Duncan by 1,596 votes. Democrats will be eager to win this seat back despite its newfound Republican leanings.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says that turnout for this Tuesday’s primary election isn’t likely to exceed 30 percent.

Grimes says without a presidential contest and without ballot initiatives like a local option sales tax, turnout among Kentucky’s 3.1 million registered voters will be lower than in some previous years.

“Based on conversations that we have had with our county clerks throughout the state, the fact that there is no local option question available, or on the ballot, and when we’re looking at the absentee numbers that are being reviewed by the state board of elections, they are lagging from where we were at this very time in ‘06 and 2013," the Secretary said.

About 1,000 offices will be up for grabs Tuesday across 3,700 voting precincts.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

5 Things To Watch In Tuesday's Primaries

May 6, 2014

Get ready for election season.

Tuesday's primaries in Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio serve as the kickoff for an intense two-month stretch that will go a long way toward outlining the shape of the midterm election landscape.

By the end of June, more than half the states will have conducted their primary elections. And the answers to some of the most important questions about the November elections will be clearer.

A record number of Kentuckians have registered to vote in advance of the May 20 primary.

The Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office reports that over 3.1 million Kentuckians are registered, reflecting an increase of more than 68,000 new voters over the last year and a half.

Democrats retain their historical edge in the state, representing nearly 54 percent of registered voters. Republicans come in just below 40 percent.

Ron Leach campaign

The Democrat running for Kentucky’s Second District U.S. House seat says Congress should pass a federal minimum wage bill.

Ron Leach was in Glasgow Thursday, and told WKU Public Radio one of the biggest themes of this year’s election will be the growing income inequality seen throughout the nation in recent years. The retired U.S. Army Major says he’d like to see the minimum wage increased $10.10 an hour.

“There’s no excuse for anyone working full-time, 40 hours a week, living in poverty. So, beyond the minimum wage, we need to be looking at a living wage,” the Meade County Democrat said. “We have way too many folks out there working full-time or working multiple jobs, yet still qualify for federal assistance.”

Leach is running for the seat currently held by three-term Republican Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green. 

Leach attacked what he called “immoral levels of compensation at the top” while employees earn “poverty wages.”

Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate’s $20 billion budget proposal aims to defund the Affordable Care Act in the commonwealth, but its provisions won’t affect the program.

The Senate’s executive budget that was passed Monday disallows state general funds from being used to fund the ACA, the commonwealth’s Medicaid expansion and the state health insurance exchange, Kynect, all of which are federally funded until the year 2017.

But the state budget only affects fiscal years 2014-2016, making the measure largely a political one in advance of November’s elections.

When asked what his chamber would do if the 321,000 Kentuckians enrolled via Kynect lost their coverage due to the ACA being defunded, Sen. President Robert Stivers said he would support “supplemental programs,” like health savings accounts, to help insure them.

Virtually any time a major event ripples across Washington, the Justice Department is positioned near the center of it.

From the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner that carried three Americans on board to the fate of voting rights for millions of people, the attorney general has an enormous portfolio. And the stress to match it.

But after an elevated heart rate sent him to the hospital last month, Eric Holder says he's on the mend.

Elections for governor could provide some good news for Democrats this fall, giving them the chance to regain ground in a few states where the party has had good fortune recently.

At this early stage, Republicans are expected to hold control of the House and pick up seats in the Senate — maybe even win a majority in the Senate.

But the GOP has fewer opportunities when it comes to statehouses. Republicans dominated state elections back in 2010, leaving them few openings this year. (Governors serve four-year terms everywhere but Vermont and New Hampshire.)

President Obama may be the standard bearer of the Democratic Party, but his unpopularity in some parts of the country means there are certain places on the campaign trail where it's best for him to stay away.

Enter former President Clinton, who can go where Obama fears to tread.

Hal Heiner campaign

A newly-formed Super PAC will target Kentucky House races this fall in an effort to win a GOP majority in that chamber.

New Direction Kentucky is a nonprofit founded by former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, who is rumored to be a GOP contender for next year's governor’s race.

Currently, Democrats retain a narrow majority in the House, with 54 seats to the Republicans’ 46.

New Direction Kentucky spokesman Joe Burgan says the group will not directly give money to campaigns, but will raise funds to purchase ads in contested races come November.

“We will do grassroots work; we will do paid media; we will do earned media. So that’s TV, radio, mail. Working with the press. To really do everything we can to get these candidates across the line," Burgain said.

The group is comprised of business and political luminaries, including Humana founder David Jones.

Burgan did not say how much money the group intends to raise.

Six of Kentucky’s eight members of Congress are millionaires, and an analysis of financial disclosure reports filed last year also shows a Kentucky U.S. Senator and Congressman rank in the top 50 of most wealthy lawmakers.

Kentucky is far from alone when it comes to states with wealthy members of Congress. In fact, more than half of the U.S. Congressmen and Senators made the latest list of millionaires, the first time that has ever happened.

The analysis by the nonprofit Center of Responsive Politics shows that Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Yarmuth are the wealthiest lawmakers in Kentucky. Records show McConnell has a net worth of $22.8 million; Yarmuth has $21.2 million.

Nationwide, McConnell ranks as the 37th wealthiest member of Congress, with Yarmuth 41st.

Congressmen Brett Guthrie, Ed Whitfield, Hal Rogers, and Thomas Massie also made the list of millionaires. That leaves Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Andy Barr as the only members of Kentucky’s delegation not on the list.

A conservative group is planning to blanket Kentucky in coming weeks with TV ads defending Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. The ad buy will also link McConnell with his fellow Kentucky Republican, Rand Paul.

The website Politico says it’s learned that the nonprofit group Kentucky Opportunity Coalition will spend nearly $400,000 over the next week on the ads. According to a script shared with Politico, the ad will tell viewers that Senators McConnell and Paul are “working together to stop Obamacare.”

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is a 501 (c) (4) group aligned with the SuperPAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. That group has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on commercials attacking Kentucky Senate Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Democratic groups have also jumped into the fray, with Senate Majority PAC and the group Patriot Money labeling McConnell as an obstructionist who should be retired from office after nearly three decades in the U.S. Senate.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is more than a little aggravated with the Senate Conservatives Fund, and who can blame him.

The youngish but well-financed Tea Party organization has targeted McConnell, a five-termer from Kentucky and highest-ranking Senate Republican, by helping to bankroll a primary challenger and using the race as an intraparty, us vs. them proxy.

Kentucky Legislative Research Commission

While Senate President David Williams and other GOP state lawmakers have expressed criticism of the Governor's expanded gambling plans, at least one Senate Republican says he'll help Beshear. Kevin Willis has this story about Scott County Senator Damon Thayer.

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