Grimes focusing on jobs, pay equity
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes on Thursday night portrayed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as being out of touch with the struggles of Kentuckians, and said his partisanship has hurt the state.
Grimes told a Democratic gathering in Louisville that McConnell has turned away from young adults facing huge student loan debt and coal miners struggling to receive black lung benefits. She said the five-term incumbent has seen his personal wealth mushroom while voting repeatedly against a higher minimum wage that would help families struggling to get by.
“Partisanship, it has consequences … that we have felt for far too long in this state — from infrastructure to agriculture to education to manufacturing,” she said. “We are ready for a new day. We are ready for a senator that can reach across the aisle and work to put Kentucky and its people first.”
Grimes also tried to blunt McConnell’s efforts to link her to President Barack Obama, who has never been popular in Kentucky.
“In case you’re listening tonight, Senator, let me make this clear: This race is between me and you,” she said.
Grimes added, “I’m not a rubber stamp. I’m not a cheerleader.”
Rand Paul says death penalty is a state issue
FRANKFORT (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday that the disproportionate number of minorities in the nation’s prisons convinced him to push for sentencing reform and restoring voting rights to some convicted felons ahead of a possible presidential run in 2016.
However, the fact that there are a disproportionate number of minorities on death row in the U.S. has not led him to scrutinize capital punishment. He said the death penalty is a state issue.
“I haven’t had a lot of feedback specifically on that,” Paul told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “I just haven’t taken a position on the death penalty.”
In the past two months, Paul has introduced a series of bills designed to reform the criminal justice system. The bills would abolish mandatory minimum sentences, restore voting rights to some convicted felons, help people expunge their criminal records and downgrade some felonies to misdemeanors. All the proposals would benefit minorities that Paul said have been impacted by the “war on drugs.”
“And even though whites used drugs at the same rate as black kids, the prisons are full of black kids and brown kids,” he said. “There are Republicans trying to correct this injustice.”
Similarly, more than half of the country’s current death row inmates are either black or Latino, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit that advocates ending capital punishment. More than 270 black people have been executed for the murder of a white person, while 20 white people have been executed for the murder of a black person.
Guilty pleas entered in cockfighting operation
McDOWELL (AP) — An eastern Kentucky father and son pleaded guilty Thursday to participating in an enterprise that authorities believe was one of the largest cockfighting pits in the country.
A U.S. Agriculture Department investigator said the business at McDowell in Floyd County had arena-style seating, multiple fighting pits and a restaurant.
Walter Dale Stumbo, 51, and Joshua Dale Stumbo, 25, of Floyd County, admitted conspiring to sponsor or exhibit an animal in a fighting venture and conducting an illegal gambling business, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. They also pleaded guilty to involvement in possessing and transporting roosters across the state line from Virginia to the Big Blue club and transporting gaffs, or sharp knives that are attached to roosters’ legs, across state lines.
They are to be sentenced in October.
The investigator, Stan Wojtkonski, said in an affidavit that one participant said the club had memberships on file for more than 6,000 people. He said police saw vehicles from states throughout the Southeast and as far away as Michigan, Illinois and Maryland during the investigation.
Walter Stumbo’s wife, Sonya Stumbo, has pleaded not guilty, and charges against her remain.
UAW backs Grimes in Kentucky Senate race
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes has picked up an endorsement from the United Auto Workers in her bid to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the November election.
Mark Dowell, head of the Kentucky UAW’s political arm, says Grimes would be a “strong voice” for working Kentuckians if she’s elected to the Senate.
He says the Democratic challenger shares the UAW’s vision for a thriving middle class.
Grimes’ campaign says the UAW has more than 40,000 active and retired members in Kentucky.
It’s the latest labor endorsement for Grimes. Last year, she was endorsed by the Kentucky AFL-CIO.
The McConnell-Grimes matchup is one of the country’s most closely watched Senate races.