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
5:55 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Matthew Bevin Confirms Tea Party Meetings, Interest in Challenging Mitch McConnell

Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin
Credit foxnews.com

Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin is interested in taking on Republican Mitch McConnell in a primary election, but no final decision has been made.

Bevin is owner of the Connecticut-based Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, a bell-making company that has been in his family over 150 years. He is also an adviser to Waycross Partners, an investment firm in downtown Louisville.

In a statement sent to WFPL, Bevin spokeswoman Amy Lowe says the investor has met with "various individuals and groups" including Tea Party groups in Kentucky, who have voiced "frustration with their current representation."

From Bevin's spokeswoman:

These meetings, together with the recent reaction to the possibility of a primary race, have served to reaffirm the general sense of political disenchantment among many voters in Kentucky that has been widely reflected in recent articles and polls.

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Politics
9:40 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Team Mitch Ad Mocks Democratic Candidate Search

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
Credit File photo

In the first ad of the 2014 Kentucky Senate race, Republican Mitch McConnell pokes fun at Democrats for being unable to find an opponent for the general election.

The online spot utilizes clips of President Obama, and shows him looking at a number of rumored challengers including actress Ashley Judd, former U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

It also notes how a number of prominent Democrats in the state have said flat out they are not interested in taking on McConnell in 2014.

Watch:

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Politics
6:00 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Louisville Businessman Being Rumored as Tea Party Challenger to Mitch McConnell

Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin
Credit mail.com

Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin is being rumored as a potential Tea Party primary challenge to Republican Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate race.

Bevin is owner of Connecticut-based Bevin Brothers Manufacturing and former CEO of an investment firm in Kentucky.

The 46-year-old businessman was profiled in 2008 for his contributions to religious and civic charitable causes

According to reports, Bevin is courting the local Tea Party with interest in running.

From The Hill:

Sarah Duran(d), president of the Louisville Tea Party, told The Hill that Bevin had been in touch with her over the phone to discuss his run multiple times over the past few weeks, and that he met with the group two weeks ago to discuss his interest in the race.

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Politics
8:55 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Democrats Divided on Ashley Judd, But Supporters Becoming More Vocal

Ashley Judd
Credit Salon

Parallel to the divide between Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and the Tea Party, Kentucky Democrats are vocally split over actress Ashley Judd running the GOP leader.

Democratic officials, lawmakers and operatives have voiced opposition to Judd, suggesting the Hollywood star is too liberal and would hurt down-ticket candidates. Judd has been described as a "catastrophe" for not only state House candidates but gubernatorial ones in 2015.

But Judd supporters are pushing back.

Former state treasurer Jonathan Miller tells WFPL that Judd could actually defeat McConnell next year, and that her critics represent the Democratic establishment who are trying to repel a threat to their pocketbooks.

"Ashley Judd would be what we call a change agent, she would be someone very new on the scene. And folks in the status quo who are everyday active in politics sometimes fear change, and I think that’s what you’re seeing here," he says.

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Politics
10:40 pm
Sat February 16, 2013

Noise and Notes: The Man Behind Team Mitch

Credit TeamMitch.com

For Tea Party strategist Jesse Benton, politics and family are one in the same.

The grandson of former Congressman Ron Paul and nephew of Senator Rand Paul, Benton was hired to run the re-election of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell last fall.

Three years ago, Benton worked on his uncle's successful Senate bid that included a primary victory over a McConnell-backed GOP candidate.

It was a shrewd move on Team Mitch's part to blunt vocal criticism from the Tea Party.

Like his boss, Benton acknowledges the campaign still has Tea Party critics, however, he doesn't expect a credible primary challenger will arise.

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Politics
10:25 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Insurance Tax for Affordable Housing Loses Ground as Advocates Urge Support

Affordable housing supporters fill City Hall
Credit Phillip M. Bailey

Dozens of residents and community activists filled City Hall on Thursday to urge the Louisville Metro Council to boost funding for affordable housing, but an ordinance seeking to pay for the initiative is losing support.

Several people spoke in favor of legislation that seeks to put nearly $10 million into the fund by increasing the city's tax on insurance premiums by one percentage point.

Affordable housing advocates who testified before the council spoke of skyrocketing rent and mortgage costs, the high number of homeless public school children and the need for new units.

"We can’t let school kids continue to be homeless, and let this problem go unsolved. So there are people who are in agreement that we need to do something and figure out how to fund the trust fund, and work together to figure out how to do that," Rachel Hurst, executive director of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund told WFPL.

But the prospects are grim now that a majority on the council have said they do not support the proposal.

Council President Jim King, D-10, and Councilman David Yates, D-24, have both said they will not vote for the ordinance. And after two of the original seven co-sponsors withdrew their support this week, another supporter—Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26—announced he is also backing off the bill.

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Politics
3:44 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Councilwoman Madonna Flood Withdraws Support from Insurance Tax Hike Ordinance

Councilwoman Madonna Flood
Credit Louisville Metro Council

A second Democratic Louisville Metro Council member is pulling their sponsorship of a proposal to raise the city’s tax on insurance premiums to give affordable housing initiatives a consistent revenue stream.

Councilwoman Madonna Flood, D-24, was listed as one of original seven lawmakers backing the legislation, which seeks to increase the tax by one percentage point and raise an estimated $9.7 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

But Flood now opposes the idea and says supporters put her name on the ordinance without her consent.

"No one called to discuss with me an ordinance being filed at that particular time. We talked in generalities," says Flood. "They were gathering support, but I had a ton of questions that I asked folks about that and for some reason my name appeared on the ordinance."

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Politics
7:30 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Bill Blocking Taxpayer Dollars in City Ethics Cases Clears House Panel

Democratic State Rep. Larry Clark of Louisville
Credit keeplarryclark.com

A bill requiring Louisville Metro officials and employees to pay for their own defense attorneys when charged with an ethics violation passed a state House committee by a unanimous vote.

State Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, introduced the measure citing the over $180,000 in costs for two cases involving members of the Metro Council in recent years.

"I don’t think it’s fair for the taxpayers to have to pay for a lawyer for those of us in public service," Clark told WFPL earlier this week. "I think we should be held at a higher standard."

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Politics
6:00 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Mitch McConnell Leads Ashley Judd 49-40 in New Poll

Mitch McConnell and Ashley Judd

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leads actress Ashley Judd by nine percentage points, according to new poll released Wednesday.

The survey was conducted by RunSwitch & Harper Polling, which was co-founded by Republican strategist Scott Jennings of Kentucky.

It has a 3.3 percent margin of error and surveyed 850 likely voters.

Besides a near 10-point lead for McConnell, the firm shows the GOP leader with 60 percent support among Republican primary voters versus "someone else."

Those figures differ from previous polls showing McConnell struggling amongst his base.

"My takeaways from the survey are that Senator McConnell is in solid-shape among Republicans and general election voters, and that Ashley Judd, for someone who has never run for office, already has a tough hole out of which to climb regarding her own image," Jennings said in a online statement.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Councilman Rick Blackwell Pulls Support for Insurance Premium Tax Hike

Democratic Councilman Rick Blackwell
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Louisville Metro Councilman Rick Blackwell, D-12, is pulling his support of an ordinance to help pay for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund by raising the city’s tax on insurance premiums.

The proposal was introduced by Democratic lawmakers this week, and seeks to increase the tax by one percentage point to raise an estimated $9.7 million.

Supporters argue going from a 5 to 6 percent rate represents a small increase per month for average residents.

In an e-mail message sent Feb. 11 to Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9—the bill's chief sponsor—the Jefferson County attorney’s office said it is "unconstitutional" to designate public funding exclusively for affordable housing

Any new revenue would have to go through the general fund first, and that is unraveling the bill's support.

"I think it’s problematic if it’s not a dedicated source. That’s what people had signed on for," says Blackwell. "It was supposed to be a way to take care of some of the issues in our neighborhoods with the abandoned and foreclosed on homes. And if it’s not dedicated to that I think you’ll have a hard time keeping sponsors and keeping people on board to vote for it."

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