Phillip M. Bailey

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
10:40 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Tea Party Ads Pressure Mitch McConnell, GOP Senators to Defund Obamacare

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 9:11 am

A pair of Tea Party groups are increasing their pressure on Sen. Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus to de-fund President Obama's health care at all costs.

Recently, McConnell questioned that strategy and said a government shutdown would not halt the Affordable Care Act's implementation.

The Washington Post's Aaron Blake reports Tea Party Patriots and For America are targeting McConnell's caucus in a series of online advertisements in the hopes of gaining traction.

For America has already put out an ad essentially calling McConnell a "chicken" for not being more supportive.

Watch:

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NPR Story
2:55 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Rand Paul Says No Evidence of Racial Discrimination in Elections

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 5:22 pm

Speaking at the Louisville Forum this week, Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., says there is no evidence that African-Americans are being barred from U.S. elections more than whites.

The comments come as several civil rights leaders announce they are launching a 50-state project aimed at reviving a historic law after the Supreme Court struck down a key part of it this year.

Many proponents argue a recent voter ID law in North Carolina is an example of legislation that wouldn’t have passed if the full Voting Rights Act was intact. Both the ACLU and NAACP have filed a pair of lawsuits alleging the state law is aimed at suppressing minority voters in upcoming elections.

Paul says there was once a time for the Voting Rights Act and there is still justification for the federal government to intervene if an individual's civil rights are violated.

But Kentucky's junior senator says any new provisions shouldn’t focus on southern states based on past cases of discrimination.

"The interesting thing about voting patterns now is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government," he says. "So really, I don't think there is objective evidence that we're precluding African-Americans from voting any longer."

In 2012, census figures showed black voter turnout was around 66 percent compared 64 percent among whites.

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Politics
3:28 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Controversial Liberal Super PAC Progress Kentucky Shuts Down

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 1:33 pm

The controversy-plagued super PAC Progress Kentucky is no more.

The Federal Election Commission has posted the termination letter acknowledging that Progress Kentucky founder and treasurer Shawn Reilly sought to close the PAC.

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Politics
9:47 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Madison Project PAC Endorses Matt Bevin for Senate

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 6:02 am

A national political action committee is backing Louisville businessman Matt Bevin over Senator Mitch McConnell in next year's Republican primary election, saying the incumbent has refused to use his leadership position to fight for conservatives.

Based in Washington, D.C., the Madison Project describes itself as a PAC that supports small-government and anti-abortion candidates across the country.

The group previously supported Missouri Republican Jim Talent during his successful 2002 senate bid, and raised close to $2 million for political candidates in last year's elections.

Bevin has already been endorsed by The United Kentucky Tea Party, a coalition of 14 different groups across the state. But this is a sign that Bevin is also getting national attention from organization's outside of the state.

Madison Project spokesman Daniel Horowtiz says the group is proud to endorse Bevin mainly because of his background as an entrepreneur. The group isn't sparring McConnell any criticism, however.

"After 28 years in the Senate and over 10 years in leadership, Senator Mitch McConnell has become the embodiment of stale moss-covered leadership. It's not just his votes for Democrat proposals, such open borders, bailouts, fiscal cliff tax hikes, debt limit increases, green energy stimulus, and funding for Obamacare, it is that fact that McConnell has refused to use his leadership role to fight for conservatives." he says.

Asked about the Madison Project's decisions to back Bevin, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton dismissed the group.

"Are they still around? I thought they were defunct," he says.

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Politics
2:48 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Kentucky Senate President Says Matt Bevin Wants Government to 'Explode' and 'Be Destroyed'

Originally published on Sat July 27, 2013 12:00 pm

Kentucky state Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says candidates like Mitch McConnell's Tea Party backed primary challenger would rather see the federal government explode and be destroyed than work towards a limited government approach.

The comments come as more GOP state office holders are voicing their support for McConnell over Louisville businessman Matt Bevin.

In public appearances and campaign messages, Bevin, who is endorsed by the United Kentucky Tea Party, has ripped McConnell for not being conservative enough.

Arguing Kentucky deserves better, the Bevin campaign points to McConnell's vote for the bank bailouts, Patriotic Act and debt limit increases as prime examples of him talking like a conservative in the state and caving to Democrats in Washington.

But Stivers says McConnell doesn't control all of what goes on in Washington and has to make difficult choices as leader of the 45-member GOP caucus in the Senate.

"And I think some people—mainly some like Mr. Bevin—would just see government explode and be destroyed and have no government at all," Stivers told WFPL in a telephone interview. "But I think Senator McConnell tries to strike a balance of a necessary evil of having some government and not too much."

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Politics
2:33 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Alison Lundergan Grimes Calls Mitch McConnell's Leadership Spiteful, Petty in Kick-Off Ad

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 12:28 pm

Speaking directly to Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes says she plans to hold the GOP accountable in next year's election.

In a nearly four minute kick-off ad, Grimes says she doesn't always agree with President Obama, but that McConnell is blocking legislation that would've helped Kentuckians out of spite.

"Your campaign wants to play silly games about where I am and where I stand. Well I'm right here in Kentucky senator, where I'll be holding you accountable," says Grimes to McConnell.

"We'll have this debate senator, and as you've probably already seen, I don't scare easy."

The video also uses a clip from her successful secretary of state bid in 2011, which was praised by observers for its humorous tone and featured Grimes's two grandmothers.

Grimes's paternal grandmother, Thelma, died a few months after the ad first appeared and the Democratic challenger cites her as one of the chief reasons for running.

"Grandmother knew that if you wanted to get something done, you don’t stand in the way," says Grimes. "You stand by your principles, but you also figure out where you can agree and how we can come together. But that's not happening in Washington today, and Senator McConnell is the biggest part of the problem."

Watch:

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Politics
2:44 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Conservative Groups Planning to 'Prosecute' Mitch McConnell in GOP Primary

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 2:26 pm

National conservative groups are closely watching Kentucky in anticipation that Louisville businessman Matt Bevin will run against Republican Senator Mitch McConnell in next year's GOP primary.

A Bevin news release says the investor will be making an announcement in Frankfort on Wednesday as part of a 3-day event that includes eight campaign stops across the state.

Last Friday, several Tea Party activists with direct knowledge told WFPL Bevin is entering the Republican primary for McConnell's seat. The movement has remained ferociously critical of McConnell over the years and just this week the United Kentucky Tea Party issued a blistering letter slamming the GOP leader's voting record as not conservative enough.

Now sources with national right-leaning advocacy groups tell WFPL they are eager to get involved in a Republican primary battle in the Bluegrass, and are preparing  to support Bevin over McConnell.

"Over the next few days we plan to endorse very soon and come in very hard to prosecute the case against Mitch McConnell," says a source with a conservative PAC. "We are all in.  Whatever it takes, we're going to help raise money for [Bevin] and we're going to particularly work on ground game."

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Politics
3:14 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Congressman Brett Guthrie Announces Re-Election, Bypassing Governor's Race

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 9:48 am

Kentucky Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie announced he is running for re-election next year, but made it clear he is bypassing a bid for governor in 2015.

Guthrie is a Republican from Bowling Green who has represented the district covering parts of western and central Kentucky since January 2009.

"We are fighting in Washington to balance the federal budget, to cut wasteful spending, and to create an environment where small businesses can create good paying jobs," he says. "My work in Congress is all about providing opportunity. I am passionate about improving the economy, cultivating educational opportunity for people of all ages, and getting our nation’s finances under control."

The GOP lawmaker was a top contender for the party's nomination in the 2015 gubernatorial contest. But Guthrie clarified he is not interested in statewide office and will keep his full attention on representing the state in Washington.

"I am not running for any state office in 2015, although I was humbled by the number of people who asked me to run for governor," he says. "I went to Washington solve big problems and to leave a better America behind for the next generation. I’ve spent every day doing that and I feel that my time and energy is best spent on solving the big financial and economic problems we face as a nation."

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Politics
8:14 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Nate Silver Gives Alison Lundergan Grimes One-in-Five Chance in Senate Race

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 8:40 am

Election guru Nate Silver is giving Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes a 20 percent chance of beating Senator Mitch McConnell in next year's election.

The Democrats hold a 54-46 majority in the Senate and are expected to regain the New Jersey seat later this year.

But the early speculation is Republicans will pick up at least three seats in 2014.  It's possible the GOP have enough to gain the majority, but Silver puts control of the Senate as a "toss-up" overall.

In regards to the Bluegrass, he says McConnell's seat could be vulnerable given his noted unpopularity, but the "fundamentals" favor the GOP leader over Grimes.

From FiveThirtyEight:

Kentucky. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, has only break-even approval ratings, and Democrats got one of their better potential recruits in Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state.

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Politics
4:03 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

McConnell Campaign Raises $2.2 Million in Second Quarter

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 9:18 am

Flexing its financial muscle the campaign to re-elect Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is reporting it raised $2.2 million in the second quarter.

The numbers haven't been reported with the Federal Election Commission, but campaign manager Jesse Benton confirmed the substantial amount with WFPL.

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