Political news

Mayor’s Fall U.S. Senate Bid Not Likely to Impact City Hall

18 hours ago

    Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s Primary win in the U.S. Senate race will likely mean a heavy dose of speaking engagements across the Commonwealth the next five months.  Lexington’s vice mayor doesn’t expect that to impact his work at city hall substantially.


Lexington Mayor Jim Gray Wins U.S. Senate Primary

May 18, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is hoping to move from City Hall to Capitol Hill.  The Glasgow native took the first step in the race for U.S. Senate Tuesday with a Primary win over six competitors.

Barr/Kemper Race Set for House Seat

May 18, 2016

    A Central Kentucky pastor is set to take on a two-term incumbent in the Sixth District Congressional race.  The contest pits a first-time candidate against a relatively young congressman with years of political involvement.

Nancy Jo Kemper bested retired state energy engineer Geoff Young.  She believes it’s important to send people to Congress who are not, as she puts it, "beholden to corporations or other institutions."  

The former director of the Kentucky Council of Churches says current Congressman Andy Barr fits in with professional politicians.  

Atypical May Weather Doesn’t Dissuade These Lexington Voters

May 17, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Rainy and cool conditions greeted many Kentucky voters today as they cast their ballots. 

In south Lexington, Claire Hundley said it’s important to make her voice heard.  And yet, she labeled this primary a "scary election."  “None of the candidates we’re voting for right now is liked by people.  Nobody seems to trust any of the candidates and yet, that’s what we are faced with.”

Debbie Morris, a native of Germany, and her husband Gary cast their ballots.  Gary says voter participation in Germany seems higher with more political parties.


Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins says projecting voter turnout in the Lexington area for the Primary Election is a difficult task.  He joins other experts in the field in projecting a light voter response as Democrats pick their presidential candidate and Republicans and Democrats both choose their U.S. Senate nominees. 

Bernie Sanders Supporters Pack Paducah Convention Center

May 16, 2016
Lance Dennee / WKMS Radio

Bernie Sanders supporters began lining up for his rally in Paducah before sunrise Sunday to secure a seat close enough for a handshake from the presidential hopeful.  

Sanders needs 65 percent of the remaining delegates to receive a nomination before the convention. The Vermont Senator believes if he can manage to win the majority, super-delegates aside, he can not only maintain the spirit of the democratic process “one person one vote” but he can also beat Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Twenty-nine year old Alia Clement is a “die hard Bernie fan.”

Democratic Presidential Candidates Focus on Kentucky

May 16, 2016

    Kentucky will experience a Primary Election slightly different than others Tuesday.  More eyes will likely be on Democratic races.

Republicans in the state conducted their primary caucus in March with Donald Trump taking the presidential nod.  On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been visibly campaigning for the backing of the Bluegrass state. 

WEKU News has produced a series of reports featuring the candidates competing for the Democratic and Republican nominations for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 6th District in Kentucky.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    Central Kentuckians will go to the polls next week to select Republican and Democratic nominees for the Sixth District U.S. House seat.  Today we conclude our review of the four candidates with the thoughts of retired state energy engineer Geoff Young. 

Young, who is making his fourth run for political office since 2012, is straightforward about what he believes to be the most important issue in this congressional race.  He says it’s “war and peace.” 


    In advance of next week’s Kentucky Primary Election, WEKU is profiling candidates for the Sixth District U.S. House race.  Today we hear from a minister with a long history of social advocacy.

Running for political office may be a new experience for Nancy Jo Kemper, but keeping abreast of issues before politicians is not.  The Lexington native has for years spoken out on matters ranging from tax reform and racial justice to gambling expansion. 

The Lane Report

Kentucky Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo is asking a judge to throw out Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's vetoes of the state's $68 billion operating budget.


Stumbo alleges Bevin improperly filed the vetoes with the House clerk last month. He said the state constitution requires the governor to deliver legislative vetoes to the Secretary of State's office when the legislature is not in session.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    Our examination of the Sixth District House race continues with the views of a first-time candidate.  There are two Republicans and two Democrats vying for votes in next Tuesday’s primary.  

67-year-old Roger Brill decided at the last-minute to challenge GOP incumbent Andy Barr.  Brill, who has owned a steel fabrication company for close to four decades, says he filed because it appeared no one else would take on Barr.

Hillary Clinton Talks Child Care During Lexington Visit

May 10, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    Child care issues were on the agenda for Democratic president candidate Hillary Clinton during a visit to Lexington Tuesday.  The former Secretary of State held an almost hour-long round table talk with parents and staff at Lexington’s Family Care Center.

Clinton told those gathered that she wanted to elevate the challenge of attaining quality child care, which is not typically a high profile presidential campaign issue. 

Candidates for U.S. Senate Weigh-In on Issues

May 10, 2016

Six of the seven Democrats vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate from Kentucky fielded questions Monday as part of a KET primary election forum.  Bill Goodman, host of Kentucky Tonight, began the show by asking each of the candidates about their political leanings. 

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray believes many Democrats are okay with taking a middle ground approach, “Sometimes we’ll go to the left and then sometimes we’ll go to the right, but through the center through time, the center is where most people land.”

Jobs Remains Key Issue for 6th Dist. House Incumbent

May 10, 2016


There are two candidates each in the Democratic and Republican primaries in the sixth congressional district.  Second-term GOP incumbent Andy Barr faces political newcomer Roger Brill. 

Although the Bluegrass is recognized for lower unemployment than many other sections of Kentucky, Andy Barr continues to hold job creation as a top priority.  He says growth in the area remains stagnant.

Bernie Sanders Brings His Campaign to Vocal Lexington Crowd

May 5, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


A raucous crowd greeted Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders Wednesday night in Lexington.  His almost hour-long speech was interrupted by loud outbursts throughout.

The opening line by the junior U.S. senator from Vermont set the tone for the political rally, “Are you guys ready for a political revolution?”

Former Pres. Clinton Campaigns for Hilary in Lexington

May 3, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Former President Bill Clinton has laid out his wife’s presidential platform on issues like corporate wealth, health care reform, and clean energy Tuesday in Central Kentucky.  He also hit on a topic near and dear to the hearts of his Lexington supporters, that of the cost of a college education. The two-term president told the crowd of about 400, mostly students, “A college loan is the only loan in America you cannot refinance when interest rates go down.  And that is wrong.”

Chelsea Clinton Campaigns For Hillary In Lexington

Apr 29, 2016

Ahead of Kentucky’s May 17 Democratic presidential primary, Chelsea Clinton stopped in Lexington on Friday to stump for her mother, Hillary Clinton.

Speaking to about 200 people crowded into Clinton’s storefront field office, the younger Clinton called this year’s presidential election the most important of her lifetime.

“If I think about healthcare or education or our economy or women’s rights, I worry that all of that is currently under threat,” she said.

Walk-In Absentee Voting Opens Statewide

Apr 29, 2016

Friday marks the required opening day for in-person absentee voting at Kentucky’s county clerk offices.  But, the president of the statewide county clerks association doesn’t expect an increase in foot traffic in her Danville office.

Richmond Commission Candidates Debate Issues from Safety to Parks

Apr 26, 2016

Five candidates for Richmond city commission participated in a debate at Eastern Kentucky University Monday night.  The event, which was streamed “live” on YouTube, began with questions about downtown revitalization. 

Incumbent commissioner Jason Morgan believes there are possibilities for the historic yet long-vacant Glyndon Hotel,  “We can have Eastern rent out some space for college kids and have flats and then have the first floor as retail business.”

U.S. Marshal Service

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has appointed an inspector general to look into potential illegal activities by the governor’s immediate predecessor. 

A former U.S. Marshal will assist with the investigation of allegations against former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.   

Gov. Bevin appointed Kenneth F. Bohac as the inspector general for the Finance Cabinet.

Bohac is a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Marshals Service. President Barack Obama appointed him U.S. marshal for the Central District of Illinois in 2010.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

Thousands of Kentuckians have erroneously received letters notifying them that they would no longer receive state benefits like Medicaid or food stamps.

Meanwhile, access to the new state system that handles those programs has been restricted and service spotty in many instances, leading to long wait times, frustration and a loss of benefits for countless Kentuckians.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

State lawmakers have once again called off budget negotiations, hoping to hammer out a compromise on Thursday.

Lawmakers met in small groups privately on Wednesday afternoon, but they provided no indication that they were any closer to an agreement by the end of the day.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, offered no details of which parts of the budget lawmakers still couldn’t agree on.

Kentucky Budget Negotiations Coming Down to the Wire

Mar 30, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL

Lawmakers are still trying to produce a compromise budget to delineate $22 billion in state spending over the next two years.

Leaders from the Republican-led House and the Democratic-led Senate have spent much of the last week trying to come up with a final version of the budget.

Partisan squabbling and disagreements over how to fix the state’s ailing pension systems and whether to cut higher education spending have complicated negotiations at the closure of the legislative session.


Kentuckians who have committed certain felony offenses would be able to clear their records under a bill that passed the state Senate Tuesday. The bill’s passage marked a milestone for the Senate, which has largely ignored the issue for more than a decade.

The new policy would apply to 61 Class D felonies, which constitute about 70 percent of Class D felonies committed.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Republican from Hopkinsville, shepherded the bill through the Senate.

McConnell: Military Coalition Needed to Address Terrorism

Mar 23, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


The U.S. Senate Majority Leader believes a military coalition that includes American, European, and Middle Eastern countries could work to reduce terrorism.  Mitch McConnell addressed the Richmond Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at Eastern Kentucky University.


Kentucky’s higher education institutions would compete for a portion of their state funding under the Senate’s budget proposal, which will be fully unveiled later this week.

The competition would be based on degrees produced, graduation rates, retention rates and closing “achievement gaps” among low-income students and underrepresented minorities.

“Whoever’s excelling deserves to be rewarded,” said Sen. David Givens, a Greensburg Republican and main architect of the policy, which he said would go into effect in 2018.

Administrative Office of the Courts

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton outlined a series of grim consequences if the state House’s proposed budget cuts to the Judicial Branch are approved, including laying off 600 people and trimming programs that keep people out of jail.

“I’m done with being cool and calm and collected. The hair that I have left is on fire,” Minton said to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

The state House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday that would create a new class of criminal punishment called “gross misdemeanor.”

Included in the new category would be three crimes that are currently Class D felonies: flagrant non-support (not paying child support), second degree forgery and second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Budget Race Begins

Mar 18, 2016
Sean Cannon / WFPL

This week in Kentucky politics, the House of Representatives finally presented its version of the state budget, restoring some spending cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

The Kentucky Senate is considering a bill that would let some people clear felonies from their records.

And the Senate approved a measure that would allow business owners to deny services based on their religious beliefs.

All that and more during this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled. Click on the player above to listen.