Political news

Ryland Barton

The leader of the religious ministry constructing a massive replica of Noah’s Ark in Northern Kentucky says he won’t ask Governor-elect Matt Bevin to approve tax incentives for the project.

Instead, Answers in Genesis chief executive Ken Ham said he wants a federal court to rule on whether state tourism officials were right to decline more than $18 million in tax incentives for the project.

Mark Cornelison / Lexington Herald Leader

State Auditor-elect Mike Harmon says he will continue outgoing Auditor Adam Edelen’s investigation of untested rape kits in the state.

Dylan Buell / Courier Journal

Governor-elect Matt Bevin on Friday announced the early priorities of his administration: dismantling the state-run health insurance exchange and removing county clerks’ names from marriage licenses.

In his first news conference since the election on Tuesday, Bevin said he hopes to have Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, Kynect, dismantled by the end of next year.

“It adds no value,” he said.

Bevin said Kynect  is “redundant” because the state can instead participate in the federal health insurance exchange. But if the state switches to the federal exchange, Kentuckians will have to pay a 3.5 percent surcharge on insurance policies. Since the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2013, Kentuckians pay a 1 percent surcharge that funds the Kynect.


The team advising Republican Gov.-elect Matt Bevin includes a Brown-Forman executive, a former Supreme Court justice and a former political rival whose allies once aired ads attacking Bevin's business record.

Bevin announced Thursday that Brown-Forman Vice President J. McCauley "Mac" Brown will lead his transition team. Bevin was elected Tuesday with more than 52 percent of the vote. He will be sworn in on Dec. 8.


Few saw it coming.

Leading into Tuesday’s elections, political prognosticators were predicting a close race for governor of Kentucky. If anything, public polling suggested a slight edge for Democrat Jack Conway.

But GOP candidate Matt Bevin defeated Conway by 9 percentage points, leading to elation for Republicans gathered in Louisville on Tuesday and deflation among Democrats watching results in Frankfort.

Upsets happen. But statewide polls — most notably the Bluegrass Poll, conducted by Survey USA in partnership with four state media outlets — were way off this election cycle, just as they were in Kentucky in 2014.

@KYGOP via Twitter

The dirt on the grave of Democrat Jack Conway’s campaign is still fresh, but Republicans already have their sights set on the state House.

Republicans captured the Kentucky governor’s mansion for only the second time in more than four decades, and they have control of the state Senate. But Democrats still have an eight-person majority in the House.

“On the horizon, what should really be concerning for Democrats is their ability to hold onto the state House of Representatives in 2016,” said Kentucky Republican Party Chair Steve Robertson.

Governor-Elect Matt Bevin Aims to Change Political ‘Tenor’ in Kentucky

Nov 4, 2015

A candidate who barely made it out of the primary ended up leading Kentucky Republicans to one of their most successful election days in recent history.

Matt Bevin will be just the second Republican governor of Kentucky since 1971, a distinction he earned Tuesday with 53 percent of the vote — 9 percentage points better than Democrat Jack Conway. Independent Drew Curtis had less than 4 percent of the vote.

Independent Drew Curtis Unsure of Political Future

Nov 4, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    The political future of independent gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis is difficult to predict.  In fact it appears to be a 50-50 proposition for the Versailes resident.

Kentucky clerk Kim Davis asked a federal appeals court to scrap a series of unfavorable rulings issued by the district judge who sent her to jail.

In a 126-page filing with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Monday, Davis' attorneys called U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning's order that Davis license same-sex marriage a "rush to judgment" that trampled the clerk's religious liberty.

WEKU brings you complete coverage of the 2015 Election throughout the evening. 

Stay with us for hourly updates from NPR followed by reports from Kentucky Public Radio at four minutes past each hour, starting at 7:04.

Brilliant Sunshine Greets Voters Across Kentucky

Nov 3, 2015

Tuesday is an unseasonably warm fall day across the Commonwealth.  It’s also Election Day as Kentuckians go to the polls to choose a new governor and several other state officials.

Lexington resident Jim Love voted Tuesday morning at Tates Creek High School. With predictions of low voter turnout, Love shared his own ideas of what could help boost participation.  “I guess have more charismatic candidates that want to support the people and represent the people,” said Love.



As statewide political races go, the 2015 general election campaign in Kentucky has lacked the exciting moments or game-changing controversies that grab voters’ attention, political observers say.

Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway spent Monday campaigning throughout the state in last-minute bids to drum up support. Some local elections officials are expecting turnout in the 40 percent range. Others are expecting much less.

Nonetheless, the state’s chief elections officer is optimistic that Kentuckians will turn out to the polls on Tuesday.

Ky. Secretary of State Ups Prediction of Voter Turnout

Nov 2, 2015

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says there’s been a surge in the number of people voting absentee this election. 

Grimes says because of the spike, she’s now predicting Tuesday's voter turnout will equal or even exceed that of the last governor’s race. 

Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins says absentee voting is not a guaranteed predictor of participation.  “There’s a loose correlation between absentee turnout and the actual turnout at the election," said Blevins. "I don’t know that it tracks exactly one for one, so it’s gonna be hard to say.” 

Independent Candidate for Governor Relaxed on Election Eve

Nov 2, 2015

Independent gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis isn’t making any solid predictions about voter turnout for Tuesday’s election. Curtis, founder of the news aggregation site FARK.com, says predicting his placement in the three man race is difficult.  “Right now I’m gonna call low end two percent, high end 15 percent," Curtis said. "The real question mark here is what’s the turnout gonna be like? Because the lower the turnout, the better I’m gonna do because all of my people are coming.” 

Jack Conway Makes Careful Run for Governor

Oct 30, 2015


One of the most significant moments of Attorney General Jack Conway’s career was his refusal in 2014 to appeal the state’s same-sex marriage ban in federal court.

It was a bold move in Kentucky, where polls have shown that most of the state’s likely voters disapprove of same-sex marriage. During his campaign this year for governor, Conway has had to answer to critics who say he shirked his duty by not defending a state law.

Matt Bevin Running For Governor On His Own Terms

Oct 29, 2015


One of the more unusual moments of the 2015 race for governor came in August during the Fancy Farm Picnic, famous for its unruly crowds.

Republican Matt Bevin approached the lectern where for decades Kentucky candidates faced deafening heckles and jeers — and asked the audience to join him in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Fancy Farm speech and other moments this election cycle depict a candidate who isn’t particularly interested in the conventions of Kentucky politics, and who isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

Bevin’s entry into Kentucky politics was a shot at political convention — a primary challenge against one of the most powerful men in the state and in the nation, Sen. Mitch McConnell. Bevin lost by a lot.


If a nerd needed to create a real-life Lord Of The Rings-style fellowship to shepherd the Ring of Power across Middle Earth to Mt. Doom, independent gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis’ campaign finance report might be a good place to find some names.

Among the donors to his campaign are Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit; Greg Koch, co-founder of Stone Brewing company in California; Wil Wheaton from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”; and Kentucky native Matt Cutts, the web spam czar for Google — one of the first to be hired by the company.

Curtis, 42, became a nerd demigod because of his website, Fark.com. He created it in 1999 to share funny and interesting articles with friends, and it ballooned into an Internet phenomenon.

Despite his fame in those circles, though, Curtis has struggled to break into the race for Kentucky governor. He has been shut out from most of the debates between major party candidates Matt Bevin, a Republican, and Jack Conway, a Democrat, because of low polling numbers.

Bevin, Conway Draw Contrasts In EKU Debate

Oct 25, 2015

With a little more than a week before Election Day, gubernatorial candidates Matt Bevin and Jack Conway squared off in the most heated debate of the race on Sunday night.

The sparring started early, with Republican Bevin calling Conway a liar, saying the Democrat repeatedly misrepresented Bevin’s position on whether to keep the state’s expanded Medicaid system.

“Stop lying to these people, stop lying,” Bevin said to Conway.


A political operative with ties to U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell has been acquitted of charges of lying to the FBI.

A federal grand jury indicted Jesse Benton earlier this year on charges stemming from 2011 when he managed the presidential campaign of former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul. Benton and others were accused of paying off former Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement for Paul’s campaign in advance of the Iowa Caucus.


The two major party candidates for lieutenant governor of Kentucky support ways to enhance education, but they have different ideas. On KET’s Kentucky Tonight, Republican candidate Jenean Hampton said she believes in small government.  “I’ve watched as government gets in the way of people,” Hampton said. “They try to be helpful, and they get bigger and bigger.”  


Despite outpacing Republicans in fundraising, Democrats running for statewide office in Kentucky are still in tight races.

Political observers say skepticism with the top of the GOP ticket has kept Republican donors in the stable while Democrats on the ballot, most of whom have served in statewide office or have party ties, have been able to tap into a deep fundraising network.

Still, it hasn’t led to a boost in the polls. In the latest statewide Bluegrass Poll, races from governor to attorney general remain either close or tied.


As Kentucky’s gubernatorial campaign enters the final three weeks before the election, the latest poll shows Democrat Jack Conway with a very slim lead over Republican Matt Bevin. 

Statewide, 43% of likely voters support Conway while 41% back Bevin.  Six percent favor Independent Drew Curtis and ten percent are undecided.  Conway’s 2 point lead over Bevin is well within the survey’s margin of error of plus-or-minus four percentage points.

AG Candidates Debate Voting Rights, Religious Freedom on KET

Oct 13, 2015

The two candidates competing to be Kentucky's next attorney general have differing views on the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act as it relates to the highly publicized actions of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.  Davis went to jail after refusing to grant marriage licenses for same sex couples. 


Strengthening the financial security of state employee and teacher pensions is a priority of both candidates vying to become Kentucky’s next state auditor.  Republican Mike Harmon says new rules for new hires can help to stabilize retirement funds.  “Those that start new, if they start under a certain promise, then it’s okay to make that change,” said Harmon.

Centre College Site of Gubernatorial Debate on Tuesday

Oct 5, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

  The race for Kentucky governor will be decided in just over a month. Two of the three candidates will take center stage during a debate Tuesday night.

Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin will participate in an hour-long debate at Centre College.  Centre Assistant Professor of Politics Benjamin Knoll says debates typically do not sway allegiance.  “Because the type of people who spend an hour of their night on a Tuesday night to tune in to watch are the types of people who are already interested and likely already have a preference,”  said Knoll.

Matt Bevin Says He Wouldn’t Vote For Rand Paul

Sep 30, 2015
Rob Canning / WKMS News

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin said Wednesday he wouldn’t vote for Kentucky’s U.S. Senator Rand Paul in next year’s Republican presidential primary, and would instead cast a ballot for Detroit neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

“I like Ben Carson, he’s not taking shots at people. He’s intelligent, he’s articulate, he’s respected. There’s a lot about him that I think America would do well to have at the helm,” Bevin said during a gubernatorial debate on Kentucky Sports Radio.

Bevin has previously supported Paul’s White House bid. And his comments could prove awkward this weekend. Paul is scheduled to stump for Bevin at a rally Saturday in Frankfort.


Kentucky's Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he'll run for Congress to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield.

Whitfield announced Tuesday he would not seek re-election after spending 20 years representing Kentucky's 1st Congressional District in Washington. The heavily Republican district consists of 35 counties in western Kentucky that includes Comer's hometown.


The two candidates vying for Kentucky agriculture commissioner both say they see a big future for hemp in the Commonwealth.  Democratic candidate Jean Marie Lawson-Spann believes in time, industrial hemp could mean tens of thousands of jobs in Kentucky.  “We will recruit Ag processors that will help that come to fruition like when you look at makeup, baskets, clothing, automobile needs,” said Lawson-Spann.




Rowan County clerk Kim Davis, a longtime Democrat, says she is switching to the Republican Party because she feels abandoned by Democrats.

Davis' made the announcement while in Washington, D.C., to attend the Family Research Council's Value Voters Summit, Liberty Counsel spokeswoman Charla Bansley said Friday. Liberty Counsel represents Davis in her legal battles.


Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is the first person to file for Kentucky's presidential caucus.

Bush filed his paperwork on Thursday during a visit to Louisville for a state Republican party fundraiser. He also paid a $15,000 filing fee.

Kentucky normally has a presidential primary in May. But this year, the Republican Party of Kentucky voted to have a presidential caucus on March 5.