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
11:46 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Alison Lundergan Grimes is Running for Mitch McConnell's Senate Seat

Alison Lundergan Grimes
Credit Creative Commons

Update: Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Monday that she will challenge U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. 

In May, a poll stated that Grimes—Kentucky's Secretary of State—was evenly matched against McConnell, who was first elected in 1984. 

Grimes, an attorney, was elected Secretary of State in 2011.

"I agree with thousands of Kentuckians that Kentucky is tired of 28 years of obstruction," she said in her announcement.

Grimes has been a long-rumored possibility for the Democratic primary—especially after actress/activist Ashley Judd declined to run.

WFPL is following the developing story and will have more information soon.

Earlier: Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is meeting with supporters on Monday afternoon and will make an announcement regarding the U.S. Senate race against Republican Mitch McConnell.

Since March, Grimes has been considered the best Democratic choice to run against McConnell in next year’s election at the urging of state and national party figures.

Even though she isn't in the race officially, Grimes hasn't been spared attack ads.

The McConnell campaign, national Republicans and GOP-leaning super PACs have criticized Grimes in recent weeks trying to link her to President Obama's agenda.

Grimes is meeting with a group of regional coordinators at her Frankfort campaign headquarters at 2 p.m., and will talk with the media an hour later.

"I don't know what she's leaning towards. She hasn't told me," says Jonathan Hurst, a Grimes spokesman. "I couldn't make a guess on it and be honest about it."

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Politics
8:00 am
Mon July 1, 2013

House Immigration Bill Coming Early Next Week, Congressman John Yarmuth Says

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

Kentucky  Congressman John Yarmuth says a comprehensive immigration reform bill will be introduced in the House early next week.

The Democratic-controlled Senate version of the bill passed by a comfortable bipartisan margin last Thursday after months of debate.

But Speaker John Boehner has made it clear the Senate version means nothing to the Republican-controlled House, where many lawmakers have described the pathway to citizenship provisions for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants as nothing more than amnesty.

The speaker has has also made it clear he will not bring any measure to the House floor unless it receives support from the majority of the GOP caucus.

Yarmuth, a Democrat, is a member of the a bipartisan work group crafting the bill. He says the group has finished a draft that Democratic and GOP lawmakers in the so-called ‘Gang of 7’ are reviewing.

"We still have the strong support and encouragement of Speaker Boehner as well as Leader (Nancy) Pelosi, so I think we’re all committed to perusing this process. And we think that ultimately the vehicle that we come up with will be the vehicle that ends up passing the House," he says.

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Politics
2:29 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Says Bestiality Comments Were Misunderstood

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

Appearing on NPR's "Here and Now" Thursday, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., says his controversial comments equating gay marriage to bestiality are being misinterpreted.

During an interview with radio show host Glenn Beck, the two discussed the high court's decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and uphold a lower-court's decision that struck down Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California.

Beck argued that changing marriage laws allows for new definitions of the institution, such as polygamy.

Paul questioned if lawmakers should use their moral beliefs when drafting bills but went further saying: "And I think this is a conundrum...If we have no laws on this, people take it to one extension further—does it have to be humans? You know?"

The senator's office said he was being sarcastic.

Paul told NPR the same thing, but added the comments are being misunderstood and that people should listen to the recording again.

"In the interview we were talking about not having laws. We weren't talking about gay marriage. We weren't talking about DOMA," he says. "What we were talking about was whether state government should be involved at all and if there are no state government rules what could potentially happen."

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Politics
12:25 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Mitch McConnell Says Immigration Reform Fails to Properly Secure U.S. Border

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Credit U.S. Senate

UPDATE: The Senate passed the 'Gang of 8' bill by a 68-32 margin with 14 Republicans joining Democrats to approve the legislation.

Earlier: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is voting against the comprehensive immigration reform bill due to a lack of border security provisions.

The Senate is expected to vote on the final version of the so-called ‘Gang of 8’ measure on Thursday, and observers predict it will receive bipartisan support.

Earlier this week, lawmakers amended the bill to include a number of security provisions such as doubling the number of federal agents, authorize aerial drones to track illegal crossings and require a 700-mile fence to be constructed along the U.S.-Mexico line.

The changes were co-sponsored by Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota, and received a bipartisan 69-29 vote in the Senate.

But speaking on the Senate floor Thursday morning, McConnell says the legislation still doesn't meet a proper threshold of needed security and that it repeats the problems with previous bills.

"In other words, in the absence of a very firm, results-based border security trigger, there’s just no way I can look at my constituents, look them in the eye and tell them that today’s assurances won’t become tomorrow’s disappointments. And since the bill before us doesn’t include such a trigger, I won’t be able to support it,” he says.

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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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