Correction: Kentucky Election-Senate story
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — In a story Nov. 8 about the 2016 election, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Democratic U.S. House candidate Calvin Sidle is a former Lewis County judge executive. Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie is the former judge executive.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Rand Paul will return to US Senate after defeating Jim Gray
Rand Paul will return to the U.S. Senate following a failed presidential campaign that changed the way Kentuckians vote for the country’s highest office
By ADAM BEAM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rand Paul will return to the U.S. Senate following a failed presidential campaign that changed the way Kentuckians vote for the country’s highest office.
Paul defeated Lexington Mayor Jim Gray to win a second six-year term on Tuesday. First elected in 2010, the Republican from Bowling Green is known nationally for his Libertarian leanings and his willingness to challenges his party’s platform on issues like criminal justice reform. But his once-promising presidential bid was upended by another unconventional candidate: Donald Trump.
Paul did not mention Trump’s name Tuesday night, but appeared to repudiate his brand of politics as alienating to the country’s minorities.
“While the presidential victor is not yet known, I continue to believe that to win nationally the GOP will need to become a bigger, better, bolder party,” he said. “We need to welcome people of all walks of life, black white brown, with tattoos and without tattoos.”
Across the state, incumbents won easy victories in Kentucky’s congressional races, with Republican Thomas Massie defeating Democrat Calvin Sidle and John Yarmuth defeating Republican Harold Bratcher to remain Kentucky’s lone Democratic congressman. In western Kentucky, former Agriculture Commissioner James Comer defeated Democrat Sam Gaskins to win in Kentucky’s 1st Congressional district, reviving his political career after narrowly losing the GOP gubernatorial primary last year.
And in Lexington, Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr defeated Democrat Nancy Jo Kemper, a United Church of Christ minister who was banking on a strong Democratic turnout in Lexington for an unlikely upset.
Paul never conceded his Senate seat, even as his longshot presidential campaign took him across the country for most of 2015 and the first two months of 2016. A state law banning candidates from appearing on the ballot twice in the same election threatened to sink his efforts. Paul got around it by donating $250,000 to the state GOP to hold a presidential caucus on a different date from the party’s Senate primary.
Democrats criticized that strategy, saying Paul wasn’t committed to Kentucky’s people or solving its problems. They turned to Gray, the two-term mayor of Kentucky’s second largest city, hoping he could capitalize on Paul’s distractions to send a Democrat to the Senate for the first time since 1999. But Gray’s candidacy came as the state Democratic Party was in disarray and forced to commit most of its resources to defending the state House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats. Even as Paul ran a slimmed-down version of his 2010 campaign, Gray received little outside help while Paul benefited from an influx of spending from outside groups.
Gray raised more money than Paul since January and put $2 million of his own cash into his campaign, helping him outspend Paul by about $1 million on TV ads. But Paul had a built-in advantage, with Kentucky’s political history favoring Republicans in most federal elections.
“I like how independent minded he is. He tends to be more toward the Libertarian Party, which probably goes closer to what my beliefs are,” said 30-year-old Sam Treesh of Nicholasville, a small business owner.
Gray was trying to make history as Kentucky’s first openly gay Senate candidate, a remarkable feat in a state that made national headlines last year for a county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But the issue never came up in the campaign, as Gray focused on attacking Paul’s presidential ambitions. Speaking to supporters in Lexington, Gray said his campaign was about “making sure everyone has a fair shot.”
“Elections end, thank goodness, but our work, and our mission, it goes on,” he said.