Phillip M. Bailey

Political Editor

Phillip M. Bailey became WFPL's political editor in 2011, covering city, state and regional campaigns and elected officials. He also covers Metro Government, including the mayor's office and Metro Council. Before coming to WFPL, Phillip worked for three years as a staff writer at LEO Weekly and was a fellow at the Academy of Alternative Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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Politics
10:05 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Mitch McConnell's Campaign Parodies While Super PAC Pounces Alison Lundergan Grimes

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes hasn't said if she is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Mitch McConnell, but a pair of preemptive attack ads aren't waiting.

The first is a web video released by the McConnell campaign which mocks Democratic leaders who are trying to get Grimes in the race.

It features impersonators of President Obama, Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman John Yarmuth imploring Grimes to jump in the 2014 contest through a series of voicemail messages. Each have their own motivations, but it underscores how Democrats have been pressuring Grimes to jump in.

The online ad also lampoons other Democrats trying to reach Grimes such as former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Louisville mayor Harvey Sloane, who ran against McConnell in 1990.

Watch:

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Politics
2:49 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

President Obama's Election Commission to Hold Public Meeting in Louisville

Credit http://www.supportthevoter.gov/

President Barack Obama's commission to improve the voting experience in U.S. elections will hold its first public meeting with officials in Louisville this week.

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration was formed this past March in response to a chorus of voters who complained of long waiting periods and confusion during the 2012 election.

An investigation of better election practices will be conducted by the group, and a report will be submitted to the president this fall.

The commission is set to hold four nationwide hearings on improving U.S. elections, but will convene in downtown Louisville this Saturday at the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers's annual conference.

Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson was appointed to the 10-member commission. He says meeting with local officials who work with voters directly is important to any overhaul nationally.

"The local election administrators are the front lines of elections," he says. "We can't accomplish the task we've been assigned by the president without talking to these local administrators. They're dealing with the budget cuts and difficulty with recruiting poll workers, and the biggest task for us is to try to reduce the line issue. And they're the ones who have to battle that the most."

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Politics
10:30 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Bruce Lundsford: Democrats Lack Firepower to Defeat Mitch McConnell

Bruce Lunsford in 2008.
Credit Creative Commons

Former U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Lunsford says Kentucky Democrats lack the "firepower" to defeat Republican Mitch McConnell in next year's election.

The Louisville businessman ran against McConnell in 2008 and came within six percentage points of defeating the GOP leader.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is considered the top contender for the Democratic nomination in 2014. She is being courted by national Democrats and encouraged by state party officials as well, but Grimes has taking her time to announce any intentions.

Perhaps warning Grimes against running, Lunsford says any potential challenger needs to know the risks of McConnell running a negative campaign could damage their political future.

From ABC News:

"There is really no sitting Democrat that I can think of right now that has the firepower, monetarily, or has enough gravitas to take him on significantly," Lunsford told ABC News. "I’d be surprised if anybody can run against him who thinks they have a further career in politics."

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Politics
10:40 am
Fri June 21, 2013

U.S. Senator Dan Coats Hires Former GOP Party Chair as State Chief of Staff

Eric Holcomb
Credit Indiana Republican Party

U.S. Senator Dan Coats has hired former Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb to serve as his chief of staff overseeing all operations in state.

Earlier this week Holcomb was among a number of high-level GOP party officials who stepped down despite pleas from Gov. Mike Pence.

Indiana Republicans held the governor's office in the 2012 elections and added to their majority state House.

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Politics
2:30 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Congressman Thomas Massie's Hemp Amendment Passes House (and Then the Farm Bill Fails)

Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Congress

UPDATE: The House just made Massie's amendment a moot point by rejecting the farm bill in a 234-195 bipartisan vote.

Earlier: Colleges and universities would be allowed to grow hemp for academic research under an amendment to the farm bill approved by a bipartisan vote in the House on Thursday.

The proposal was introduced by Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie along with Democrats Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado, and passed by a 225-to-200 vote. It applies only to states that have authorized the crops cultivation.

A majority of Kentucky’s congressional representatives have been vocal supporters for easing federal restrictions on hemp, which is illegal to grow in the U.S. due to its genetic relation to marijuana. Opponents against the language argued the amendment will hamper law enforcement efforts because the crop is difficult to distinguish between its cannabis cousin.

But Massie says hemp is not marijuana, adding the amendment will help move the research forward to one day allow farmers to grow the crop legally.

"People think it’s about drugs but when they get done laughing about the word hemp and realize industrial hemp is not marijuana they realize it’s a jobs bill and an opportunity for Kentucky farmers," he says. "What this amendment does is it carves out a very small exception for universities to do research without running afoul of the drug laws. And I hope it’s a precursor to allowing all of the farmers in Kentucky to grow industrial hemp."

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Politics
10:33 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Democratic-leaning Super PACs Target Mitch McConnell's Tenure

A pair of Democratic-leaning super PACs have launched an ad campaign against Republican Mitch McConnell that argues three decades is too long for Kentucky's senior senator to serve.

Senate Majority PAC and Patriot Majority USA announced the television ad and website on Thursday morning as part of a "major" effort to unseat McConnell in next year's election.

"Mitch McConnell talks one way in Kentucky and votes a different way in Washington, D.C.," says Patriot Majority USA President Craig Varoga. "He thinks this double talk will keep him in the Senate for more than 30 years, but we’re going to use his own words and his real votes to ask the question, over and over, how long is too long?"

The TV spot is a statewide buy that features McConnell saying he has "lived on a government salary for 30 years" but voted for the bank bailouts and cuts to Medicare.

Watch:

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Politics
6:48 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Senate Rejects Rand Paul's Border Security Amendment to Immigration Bill

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Senate

The Senate has rejected Kentucky Republican Rand Paul's amendment to hold annual border security votes as part of comprehensive immigration reform by a 61-to-37 vote.

Under Paul's 'Trust But Verify" proposal, Congress would be required to vote once every five years to certify the border is sufficiently secure. Specifically, the amendment calls for 95 percent apprehension rate, a double fence on the U.S-Mexico border and full border surveillance.

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Politics
5:51 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Urges Against Food Stamp Cuts But For Ban on Soda Purchases

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is urging Congress against cutting food stamps in the upcoming farm bill.

But a letter the mayor signed also asks federal lawmakers to bar recipients from buying sodas and other sugary beverages.

The House is expected to vote on the legislation this week with the $80 billion Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, at the center of the debate. Republicans are pushing for $4 billion in cuts, but Democrats argue that could kick up to 2 million recipients off the food stamp rolls.

On Tuesday Fischer joined over a dozen other mayors in saying Congress should do more to combat obesity and create incentives for food stamp recipients to buy more fruits and vegetables.

Among those who signed the letter were New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pushed to ban soda drinks in large sizes  before a court ruling nixed the plan.

"Congress should direct the USDA to test policies that support healthful food choices and reduce consumption of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that threaten the health of many Americans," the letter reads.

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Politics
1:45 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth to Seek Re-Election in 2014

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

Democrat John Yarmuth will seek a fifth term as Kentucky's Third District Congressman in 2014.

The lone Democrat in Kentucky's 8-member federal delegation, Yarmuth's position has been elevated as a point person for the White House on federal appointments. And he is currently a member of the bipartisan work group that is crafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House.

In a message to supporters on Tuesday, Yarmuth says it was important to make an official decision long before the January filing deadline.

"Representing the people of Louisville is the best job I could ever hope for," he says. "Hearing from our community and fighting for our priorities continues to drive me as it did from day one, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon."

Earlier this year, the Yarmuth campaign dismissed speculation that a sparse first quarter fundraising report was a sign of retirement.

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Politics
7:03 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Introduces 'Secure the Vote' Amendment to Immigration Bill

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Senate

Republican Rand Paul is introducing an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill that would bar undocumented immigrants from voting in federal elections until they obtain U.S. citizenship.

The proposed is being put out on the same day the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law that required residents to prove their citizenship before voting.

Paul's "Secure the Vote" amendment is aimed a tackling voter fraud and ensures those on work visas or given status under the Senate bill are not allowed to vote in federal elections until they become citizens.

The amendment would also provide states with new procedures to check that those individuals are not illegally registered to vote.

"Not only would this amendment prevent voter fraud, it would also clear up the problem created by today’s Supreme Court decision," Paul said in a statement. "My amendment requires states to check citizenship before registering people to vote in federal elections."

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