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Clinton ekes out win in Democratic presidential primary in Kentucky

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray wins Democratic nomination to face Republican Rand Paul in U.S. Senate race

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com

kentucky mugLOUISVILLE (CFP) — Hillary Clinton scored a narrow victory over U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Kentucky Democratic presidential primary, the last stop in the Southern primary season.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

Clinton took 46.8 percent of the vote in the May 17 vote, compared to just 46.3 percent for Sanders. a margin of just 1,900 votes. That was a stark reversal from eight years ago, when Clinton walloped Barack Obama by more than 35 points in the Bluegrass State.

With the results in Kentucky, Clinton ends the Southern primary season by nearly running the table, taking 12 out of 14 contests. Sanders won only Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

Meanwhile, in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate primary, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray won the Democratic nomination over a crowded field, taking 58 percent of the vote. He will now face Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul in November.

Given Kentucky’s Republican tendencies in federal elections, Paul, seeking his second term, is considered a prohibitive favorite, although Gray, as mayor of the commonwealth’s second-largest city and  the wealthy owner of a family construction business, poses a credible challenge.

Gray is also trying to become the first openly gay man ever elected to the Senate.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul gets well-heeled challenger in Kentucky

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s entry into race may increase pressure on Paul to drop presidential bid

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

kentucky mugFRANKFORT, Kentucky (CFP) — As he battles to keep his presidential hopes alive, U.S. Senator Rand Paul has drawn a high-profile, independently wealthy Democratic challenger in his Senate re-election challenge back home in Kentucky.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, chairman of his family’s international construction company, announced January 26 that he would challenge Paul, a first-term Republican who is simultaneously seeking the GOP presidential nomination and re-election to the Senate.

“Washington offers dysfunction and gridlock, and Senator Paul confuses talking with getting results,” Gray said in a video announcing his campaign. “He offers ideas that will weaken our country at home and abroad, and he puts himself and his own ambitions above Kentucky.

In 2014, Gray, 62, was elected to his second term as mayor of Lexington, the commonwealth’s second-largest city. He is one of seven Democrats who filed to run against Paul and–given his political profile and ability to self-fund his campaign–is the prohibitive favorite to be Paul’s opponent in November.

However, Gray is also openly gay, a probable complication in a state where Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis became a cause celebre after she want to jail last year for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Democrats have not won a Senate race in Kentucky since 1992. But Paul’s decision to run for two offices at once has put the Bluegrass State on the Democrats’ radar.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

While the Kentucky GOP changed its presidential nominating contest to a caucus to facilitate Paul’s political double-dipping, he has been under increasing pressure from within his party to abandon his White House quest and focus on the Senate race–pressure that is likely to intensify now that he has a potentially formidable Democratic challenger.

The latest national polls in the Republican presidential contest show Paul mired in single digits.

Paul, 53, an eye surgeon from Bowling Green, won election to the Senate in 2010 with Tea Party support, besting a candidate backed by Kentucky’s Republican establishment. He is the son of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who made three unsuccessful tries for the White House.

 

 

 

Kentucky GOP switches from presidential primary to caucus to help Rand Paul

Decision means Paul will be able to pursue the White House and re-election to the Senate simultaneously

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

kentucky mugFRANKFORT, Kentucky (CFP) — With U.S. Senator Rand Paul looking on, Kentucky’s Republican central committee voted to switch the presidential contest in the Bluegrass State from a May primary to a March caucus, clearing the way for Paul to run for the Senate and the White House at the same time.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

However, the central committee made the switch contingent on Paul contributing at least $250,000 to defray expenses associated with the caucus, something Paul has promised to do. The committee set a deadline of Sept. 18 for the payment to be made.

The vote, held by secret ballot, was 111-36, more than the two-thirds majority necessary to make the change. After the vote was announced, Paul’s supporters stood and cheered.

Paul release a statement saying “holding a caucus will ensure that Kentucky is relevant and participates early in the process.”

“I am also grateful for the Republican Party’s trust in me, allowing me to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate and seek the nomination for the presidency of the United States,” he said.

The change was necessary because Kentucky law does not allow the same candidate to appear on the ballot twice in the same election. If the Kentucky GOP held a primary, Paul would have faced a choice of whether to seek a second term in the Senate or opt out of a presidential primary contest he is likely to win. The caucus is also earlier in the presidential nominating calendar, which could boost his White House prospects.

Kentucky Democrats, who control the state House and the governorship, have blocked efforts by Paul’s allies to change the state law against political double-dipping. While the change fixes Paul’s problem for the primary, he could still face the same issue in November 2016 if he wins the GOP presidential nomination.

Paul maintains the law is unconstitutional because of a 1995 Supreme Court ruling that a state can’t impose its own restrictions in races for federal offices. He had hinted that he would a federal lawsuit if any attempt is made to keep him from seeking both offices at the same time.

The switch to a caucus was criticized by the Bluegrass State’s top elections official, Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who issued a statement saying “it is unfortunate that today a few insiders were able to disenfranchise over 1.2 million Republican voters.”

“One candidate should not be able to buy an election. Democracy demands that all eligible Kentuckians be a part of the election process. That didn’t happen today and won’t happen with a caucus.

There is historical precedent for running for both the presidency or vice presidency and Congress at the same time, most recently in 2012 when U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, was re-elected to his House seat in Wisconsin.

Vice President Joe Biden also won Senate re-election in 2008 on the same day he was elected vice president, as did Lyndon Johnson in 1960.

The only other senator up for re-election in 2016 running for president, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, is giving up his Senate seat.

Kentucky GOP okays switch to 2016 caucus to help U.S. Senator Rand Paul

Decision to change presidential selection process clears way for Paul to seek both re-election and the White House

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

kentucky mugBOWLING GREEN Kentucky (CFP) — Republican Party leaders in Kentucky have agreed to switch their presidential nominating contest in 2016 from a primary to a caucus, clearing a potential hurdle in U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s expected run for the GOP presidential nomination.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

After a closed-door meeting March 7, the state party’s executive committee approved the change, which must still be approved by the full party central committee in August.

Paul appeared at the executive committee meeting in Bowling Green to meet with party leaders and lobby for the change. His campaign has agreed to raise money to cover the costs associated with holding a caucus.

However, the proposed change was blasted by the Bluegrass State’s top elections official, Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who said the switch to a caucus would introduce “chaos” into the process by disenfranchising voters who would not be able to attend.

“I call on the Republican Party of Kentucky to provide details on how all their voters would be able to participate and how the party intends to uphold the integrity of the process,” she said.

Paul has already kicked off his Senate re-election campaign and is expected to make a decision on the presidential race this spring.

Grimes, who ran unsuccessfully against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014, has been insisting that a state law prohibiting a candidate from appearing for two different offices on the same ballot precludes Paul from seeking re-election to the Senate while also running in the May 2016 presidential primary.

Kentucky Democrats, who control the state House and the governorship, have blocked efforts by Paul’s allies to change the state law against political double-dipping

The switch to a caucus, which would be held on a different day earlier in the year, would get around the problem, although if Paul were to win the GOP presidential nomination, he would face the same problem in the November 2016 general election.

Paul maintains the law is unconstitutional because of a 1995 Supreme Court ruling that a state can’t impose its own restrictions in races for federal offices. He has hinted that he may file a federal lawsuit if any attempt is made to keep him from seeking both offices.

A Bluegrass/Survey USA poll last September showed 66 percent of state voters and 54 percent of Republicans were opposed to changing the law.

There is historical precedent for running for both the presidency or vice presidency and Congress at the same time, most recently in 2012 when U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, was re-elected to his House seat in Wisconsin.

Vice President Joe Biden also won Senate re-election in 2008 on the same day he was elected vice president, as did Lyndon Johnson in 1960.

The only other senator up for re-election in 2016 considering a White House bid, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, has said he will give up his Senate seat if he pursues the Republican presidential nomination.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul wants Kentucky GOP to switch to a presidential caucus

The move would eliminate a potential hurdle to Paul seeking both re-election and the White House

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

kentucky mugLOUISVILLE (CFP) — U.S. Senator Rand Paul is asking Republican leaders in Kentucky to switch from a presidential primary to a caucus in 2016 — a move which would allow him to run for president and the Senate at the same time.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

In a letter to the Kentucky Republican Central Committee, Paul asked party leaders to abandon the May 2016 primary in favor of a caucus earlier in the year, which he said would make the Bluegrass State more relevant in the presidential nominating process.

“By May 2016, the GOP will likely have decided its nominee, rendering our votes useless in deciding anything,” Paul said.

However, Paul conceded that the change would also allow him to get around a state law that doesn’t allow the same person to be on the ballot for two offices in the same election, which would happen if he were running for re-election to the Senate and the White House at the same time.

“My request to you is simply to be treated equally compared to other potential candidates for the presidency,” he said.

The committee will consider Paul’s request at a March 7 meeting.

Paul has already kicked off his Senate re-election campaign and is expected to make a decision on the presidential race this spring.

Kentucky Democrats, who control the state House and the governorship, have blocked efforts by Paul’s allies to change the state law against political double-dipping. However, a change to a caucus would not require their approval.

A Bluegrass/Survey USA poll last September showed 66 percent of state voters and 54 percent of Republicans were opposed to changing the law.

Paul maintains the law is unconstitutional because of a 1995 Supreme Court ruling that a state can’t impose its own restrictions in races for federal offices. He has hinted that he may file a federal lawsuit if any attempt is made to keep him from seeking both offices. Another option would be forgo Kentucky’s presidential primary while seeking re-election to the Senate.

There is historical precedent for running for both the presidency or vice presidency and Congress at the same time, most recently in 2012 when U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, was re-elected to his House seat in Wisconsin.

Vice President Joe Biden also won Senate re-election in 2008 on the same day he was elected vice president, as did Lyndon Johnson in 1960.

The only other senator up for re-election in 2016 considering a White House bid, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, has said he will give up his Senate seat if he pursues the Republican presidential nomination.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul seeking re-election in Kentucky

Paul’s decision to run for the Senate again comes as he also considers a White House bid

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

kentucky mugBOWLING GREEN, Kentucky (CFP) — U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has announced that he will seek a second term in the Senate in 2016, even as he considers a run for the GOP presidential nomination.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

“I ran for office because, like many Kentuckians, I was alarmed at the problems facing our country,” Paul said in a December 2 statement announcing his re-election bid. “I stand with Kentucky in this fight, and I hope to continue together in the task of repairing and revitalizing our great nation.”

Paul, 51, kicked off his campaign with endorsements from Kentucky’s entire Republican congressional delegation and legislative leaders in Frankfort — a stark change from 2010, when his upstart Senate bid was opposed by most of the commonwealth’s GOP establishment.

Among those endorsing Paul was Kentucky’s other U.S. Senator, Mitch McConnell, soon to be the majority leader.

In 2010, McConnell backed Paul’s primary rival. But the two made peace after Paul won, and Paul backed McConnell in his primary fight earlier this year.

Kentucky law does not allow Paul’s name to appear on the ballot for both Senate and president in the May 17, 2016 primary. However, Kentucky Republicans could get around that problem by shifting to a presidential caucus on a different date.

Paul has said he thinks the state law prohibiting him from seeking both offices is unconstitutional. Democrats, who control both the state House and the governorship, have so far blocked Republican efforts to change the law.

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