Local News Politics

Hubbard Says 2012 State Senate Bid Will Be His Last

Former Kentucky Congressman Carroll Hubbard says he will run for public office for the last time next year.

Hubbard, a Democrat, has notified the Kentucky Board of Elections that he will run for the state Senate seat now held by Republican Ken Winters of Murray.

Hubbard tells the Murray Ledger and Times that, at age 74, this will be his final bid for public office.

Hubbard’s political career began in the state Senate in 1967. He served in Congress from 1975 to 1993, representing the 1st District, but lost his seat after getting caught up in the House banking scandal,
then served two years in prison for violating federal campaign finance laws.

Hubbard ran unsuccessfully against Winters in 2008. He tells supporters that he believes his chances are better in 2012 because many voters supported a straight Republican ticket in that race.

(Information for this story also came from the Associated Press)

Local News

Medicaid Funding Bill Clears House

Gov. Steve Beshear’s plan for balancing the state’s Medicaid budget has taken a giant step forward in the Kentucky General Assembly.

The House voted 80-19 to move 166-million dollars from the second year of the Medicaid budget, to the current year, to cover a large deficit.

All 19 opponents, including Rep. Stan Lee of Lexington, were Republicans. Lee said, “I think we need to be cautious. I think we need to be worried about moving money from one account to another – one bookkeeping trick to another – to just balance books and hopefully get more federal dollars. I mean, it does seem to be a bit confusing.”

The bill moves the Senate for consideration.

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GOP Retains Control Of Kentucky Senate

Democrats had hoped to wrest control of the Kentucky Senate away from Republicans in Tuesday’s election, but it didn’t happen.

Democratic Sens. Mike Reynolds and David Boswell lost to Republicans Tuesday.

Republicans also picked up the seat being vacated by Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley and held onto the seat being vacated by Sen. Gary Tapp.

Republican Elizabeth Tori was defeated by Democrat Dennis Parrett.

In far western Kentucky, Sen. Bob Leeper – budget chairman and the chamber’s only independent – won re-election over Democrat Rex Smith and Republican William East.

Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine won re-election, as did Minority Whip Jerry Rhoads.

Other winners last night were Democrats Robin Webb and R-J Palmer, and Republicans Alice Forgy Kerr, Ernie Harris, Brandon Smith, Julie Denton and Dan Seum.

Local News

Some Kentucky Senators Have Primary Opponents

By Tony McVeigh, Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky’s U-S Senate race is the main attraction in today’s primary election, but several state Senate seats are also being fought over.

Half of the Senate’s 38 seats are up for grabs this year, but only nine Senate districts have primary battles.

Senate President David Williams of Burkesville has opposition within his Republican Party.

Four Republicans and two Democrats are vying for the seat now held by Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley of Richmond. Two Democrats and two Republicans want the seat held by Sen. Gary Tapp of Shelbyville. Tapp and Worley are retiring.

Republican Senators Tom Buford of Nicholasville, Ernie Harris of Crestwood, Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington and Julie Denton of Louisville all have primary opponents, as does Democratic Sen. R-J Palmer of Winchester.

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Abortion Bill Remains Stalled In General Assembly

by Tony McVeigh, Kentucky Public Radio

The latest attempt by Kentucky House Republicans to dislodge an abortion-related bill from committee has failed.

On January 25th, the Senate voted 32-4 for legislation requiring an ultrasound prior to an abortion. One month later, the bill died in the House Health and Welfare Committee on a 7-7 tie vote. In an attempt to force the bill out of committee for a House floor vote, Republican Rep. Joe Fischer filed a discharge petition, which was shot down by Speaker Greg Stumbo.

“Every Speaker that I recall has taken the position that a discharge petition is not in order as long as the committee has held a hearing, or taken a vote, or moving toward a report on the bill.” he says.

Fischer did not challenge Stumbo’s ruling, which requires 51 votes. With nine days left in the session, time is running out on the ultrasound bill, which has been amended to several other House bills. None of those bills have been called for floor votes.

Local News

Transparency Bill Clears Senate Panel

(Thanks to Stu Johnson, Kentucky Public Radio/WEKU, Richmond)

The full Kentucky Senate will consider legislation that would require that most state government spending information and other financial data be posted online.

The measure, approved Wednesday by a Senate committee, was sparked by recent scandals involving the Kentucky Assocation of Counties and the Kentucky League of Cities, which would also have to post such documents if the bill becomes law.

Committee member Jullian Carroll voted in favor of the measure.

“We’ve got a public that is skeptical, very skeptical, of government. I don’t care what party is running it, they’re just skeptical of it and i strongly believe in communication,” he said.

Panel member Robin Webb also cast a ‘yes’ vote but says there could be some logistical problems.

“The timeline is what concerns me… experience dealing with our government computer systems and various upgrades and potential budget cuts,” she said.

The bill would also cover state-run colleges and univesities, which would send their spending data to the Finance Cabinet for online posting.

Local News

Special Election Tuesday For Kentucky Senate Seat

All eyes will be on five central Kentucky counties Tuesday for a special election to fill a vacant state senate seat. Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh says the election results could have deep repercussions.

Recently, two prominent Republicans left the Kentucky Senate.  They weren’t defeated in elections.  They accepted appointments from Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to other government positions.  The governor appears to be using his appointment powers to wrest control of the Senate from Republicans, whom the governor sees as obstructionists to his effort to bring casino gambling to Kentucky.

The appointments created the need for two special Senate elections – the first won by a Democrat.  The second, on Tuesday, pits Democrat Jodie Haydon against Republican Rep. Jimmy Higdon.  Haydon, a former House member and Bardstown road contractor, says he’s in the race because he’s tired of the gridlock in Frankfort, which he blames on Senate President David Williams.


“I don’t think we’ve known any progress for ten years,” says Haydon.   “As a matter of fact, I think a strong case could be made that we’ve actually regressed.”

Pictured, from left, Jimmy Higdon, Jodie Haydon and TV debate moderator Gary White.

Haydon calls President Williams, “a dictator,” an accusation Williams vehemently denies.  But Rep. Higdon, a Lebanon grocer who’s been in the House since 2003, says it’s a non-issue because he’s his own man.

“I govern from the bottom up, not the top down,” says Higdon.  “I will not listen to a party boss or be bullied in any way.  I’m a very independent person, and I expect to go to Frankfort and represent my constituents.”

Haydon is raising more money – lots more money – especially from road contractors and horse interests.  And he, like the governor, supports video slots at horse tracks.

“I think we’ve built enough schools in Indiana,” says Haydon.  “We’ve built enough roads in Indiana, built enough water lines in Indiana.  We need to keep that Kentucky money that goes to Indiana by way of the riverboat, in Kentucky.”

But Rep. Higdon says expanded gambling is something the people should decide.

“Eighty-percent of this district wants to vote on the issue,” says Higdon.  “We did our polling early on.  So my campaign pledge from day one is to let the people vote – not decide this issue behind closed doors with politicians and lobbyists.  Let the people vote.”

It’s been an intense, one-month campaign, with each candidate airing ads touting their central Kentucky roots, their values and stands on the issues, but mostly avoiding personal attacks.

But it’s no holds barred in ads funded by the state Republican and Democratic parties.  And a group calling itself Keep Our Jobs in Kentucky is running scathing ads against Higdon.

Higdon responds.

“You know, we really don’t know who those people are,” says Higdon.  “We can assume, and I can say it’s gambling dollars or I can say anything because I really don’t know.  I just know they’re spending a lot of money to make Jimmy Higdon look really bad.

“Is it working?” asks McVeigh.

“Well, you know, our poll numbers have remained good.”

It is a conservative district.  Comprised of Taylor, Marion, Mercer, Washington and Nelson counties, Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two-to-one.  But Republican Dan Kelly represented the senatorial district for 18 years, before accepting a judgeship from Gov. Beshear last month.

Kelly’s departure leaves the Senate with 19 Republicans, 17 Democrats and one independent.  A Jodie Haydon victory would narrow the margin to 19 Republicans, 18 Democrats and one independent.

Is that significant?  Well, consider this.  Ten years ago, defections by two, then-Democrats, gave Republicans a 20-18 margin in the Senate and control of the body for the first time in almost a century.

Local News

Sen. Kelly Appointed To Judicial Post

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

As expected, former Kentucky Sen. Dan Kelly of Springfield has been chosen to fill a vacant circuit judgeship that serves Green, Marion, Taylor and Washington counties.     Dan Kelly

It was no surprise Friday when former Senate Majority Leader Dan Kelly’s name was one of three recommended by a judicial nominating commission to fill the vacant judgeship.  And, as expected, Gov. Beshear has chosen Kelly for the post.  Beshear, a Democrat, makes no apologies for choosing a Republican. 

“You know, political philosophy really doesn’t figure into a circuit judge’s job.  You need to be a good lawyer.  You need to have courtroom experience.  You need to understand the judicial system and you need to be fair minded,” Beshear said.

Kelly has now officially resigned from the Senate, and Gov. Beshear has set December 8th as the date for a special election to fill his seat.  Republican Rep. Jimmy Higdon and former Rep. Jodie Haydon, a Democrat, have already filed to run for the post.

Local News

Webb Wins Special Kentucky Senate Election

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Republicans are reacting to Democratic Rep. Robin Webb’s victory Tuesday in the race for a northeast Kentucky senate seat formerly in Republican control. Senator Damon Thayer of Georgetown says Republicans remain united and strong.

“We still are in the majority in the state Senate. We still control the committee chairmanships and the flow of legislation. And while we’ll be disappointed on losing a seat, we feel very confident going into the next election cycle about our electoral chances to hold and even enhance our majority,” he said.

Rep. Webb defeated Republican Jack Ditty and independent Guy Gibbons for the senate seat formerly held by Republican Charlie Borders. Borders recently accepted an appointment to the state Public Service Commission from Gov. Steve Beshear. With Webb’s victory, Republican control of the Senate now stands at 20-17, with one independent.

Local News

Special Election Tuesday For Kentucky Senate Seat

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Voting begins early Tuesday in a special election in a northeast Kentucky senatorial district.   

This is a key battle in the ongoing fight for control of the state Senate.  With the departure of forr Senate budget chairman Charlie Borders, whom Gov. Beshear appointed to the Public Service Commission, the Senate now has 20 Republicans, 16 Democrats and one independent. 

 Democratic Rep. Robin Webb, Republican Jack Ditty and independent Guy Gibbons are in the race to fill the vacant seat.  The focus is mostly on Webb, who’s been in the House since 1999, and Ditty, who’s a political newcomer.

The month-long campaign has drawn some big names to the 18th Senatorial district.  U-S Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell campaigned for Ditty and Gov. Beshear and six former Democratic governors campaigned for Webb.

Despite all the excitement, voter turnout is expected to be light, with only 10-to-15 percent of registered voters predicted to cast ballots.