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Election 2010 News: Paul, Portman Elected to US Senate; Davis Re-elected

Associated Press

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Rand Paul seals big tea party Senate win in Ky.

by BRUCE SCHREINER and ROGER ALFORD, Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky voters made Rand Paul their next senator Tuesday in a convincing display of tea party strength that defied Democratic hopes and early Republican fears that his ultraconservative views made him unelectable.

The eye doctor and son of libertarian-leaning GOP Rep. Ron Paul of Texas ran against President Barack Obama about as much as he did against his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway. Paul’s condemnation of budget deficits, the economic stimulus and the health care overhaul resonated among voters even as Conway tried to portray him as too extreme and out of touch on such issues as taxes, entitlements and drug prevention.

A triumphant Paul promised to take his agenda of limited government and balanced budgets to the Senate.

“I have a message from the people of Kentucky, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We’ve come to take our government back,” Paul told hundreds of cheering supporters in his hometown of Bowling Green. It was the same message he delivered the night he won the primary thanks to tea party support.

“The American people want to know why we have to balance our budget and they don’t,” he said.

Conway conceded and wished Paul well “as he tries to do right by our state.”

“I told him that if he finds issues we can work on together, this Democrat is at his disposal,” he said.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Paul was leading Conway 56 percent to 44 percent in the race to replace Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, who is retiring.

The videotaped fracas of a Paul supporter stepping on a liberal activist a week before the election appeared to have little effect. So did a bizarre anonymous claim from Paul’s college days involving an alleged abduction and something called “Aqua Buddha.” That allegation might ultimately have hurt Conway because he used it as the basis for an attack ad that raised questions about Paul’s religious beliefs.

Paul, 47, was an early tea party enthusiast who trounced the GOP establishment’s pick, Trey Grayson, in the primary. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and others feared Paul’s brand of conservatism might make him unelectable in the fall, but they quickly embraced him.

McConnell eagerly welcomed Paul as his new colleague, and praised the newcomer for his message of “reining in outrageous Washington spending and the overreaching policies of the Obama administration.”

Paul suffered a post-primary stumble when he expressed misgivings about how the Civil Rights Act bans racial discrimination by private businesses. He later said he abhors discrimination and would have voted for the 1964 law. He also drew criticism for decrying Obama’s harsh rhetoric against BP over the Gulf oil spill as “really un-American.”

As the campaign continued, however, Paul focused more closely on his key message of smaller government with a mix of bluntness and finesse. He talked about possible future changes to Social Security and Medicare as growing numbers of baby boomers retire, but opposed changes for current recipients. He said he would propose balancing the budget in a single year without raising taxes, which would require cutting the federal budget by more than a third, but he was short on specifics.

Paul also called for repealing the health care overhaul and denounced Obama’s cap-and-trade environmental legislation as harmful to Kentucky coal.

Conway said his opponent’s position on taxes and entitlements would inflict economic hardships in a poor state. Conway railed against Paul for discussing a $2,000 Medicare deductible and the FairTax, a proposal that includes eliminating the federal income tax and replacing it with a 23 percent national sales tax.

Outside money poured into the race. Paul was the main beneficiary, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an alliance with ties to one-time President George W. Bush political adviser Karl Rove painted Conway as a liberal Obama backer.

The race turned personal when Conway aired a TV ad that asked why Paul was a member in college of a secret campus society that mocked Christians and once allegedly tied up a woman and told her to worship an idol and claimed his god was “Aqua Buddha.” Paul denied being involved in any kidnapping and said he’s a “pro-life Christian.” He later refused to shake Conway’s hand at a debate over the ad, which Paul said was a false attack on his religion.

Though voters were not asked specifically about the “Aqua Buddha” ad in the exit polling, nine of out 10 who voted for Paul said Conway had attacked the Republican unfairly.

Tommy Duffy, 58, a sheriff’s deputy in Jefferson County, said Tuesday that he considered voting for Conway until the Democrat ran the “Aqua Buddha” ad, which turned him off.

“That was pretty much desperation, a desperate shot,” Duffy said. “I didn’t like that at all.”

Paul said his campaign was a “Cinderella story” from the beginning, and was able to tap into discontent with Obama.

“I think we came from nowhere and were able to win a big victory, so that really says something,” Paul said. “Now we have to see if we can do something with the victory.”

1 Dem hangs on, 4 GOP incumbents back to Congress

by BRETT BARROUQUERE, Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — One incumbent Democrat from Kentucky eased to re-election while another led at the end of a night where Republicans made huge gains in their effort to retake the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville ran past Republican challenger Todd Lally, taking 138,992 votes, or 54 percent. Lally, a pilot for UPS and Kentucky National Guard officer, tallied 112,469 votes, or 44 percent.

In central Kentucky, Rep. Ben Chandler declared victory over Lexington attorney Andy Barr, although Barr declined to concede. As the two candidates called it a night, Chandler led by 600 votes.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Chandler had 119,845 or 50.1 percent to Lexington attorney Andy Barr’s 119,245 or 49.8 percent.

In an interview Tuesday night, Chandler said he expected the margin of victory to stand at between 575 and 600 votes.

“That’s going to be hard to turn over in any kind of recanvass or recount,” said Chandler, the grandson of A.B. “Happy” Chandler, a one-time Kentucky governor and senator as well as Major League Baseball commissioner.

Barr, who worked as deputy counsel to former Gov. Ernie Fletcher, said the race was “too close to call” and promised to continue fighting for the seat on Wednesday.

“Exciting night. And this race is not over,” Barr told a cheering crowd. “And tomorrow, the campaign continues.”

Barr’s campaign manager, in an e-mail to The Associated Press, repeated Barr’s contention that the race couldn’t be called.

“This race is not over yet,” John Connell said in the e-mail.

What Barr planned to do next wasn’t clear. He left his campaign party without taking questions. Kentucky law does not allow for an automatic recount in close races, although candidates may request a recanvass.

When asked if Barr’s decision not to concede was a mistake, Chandler was unsure.

“I don’t know, in this environment, in this climate, I really don’t know what a mistake politically is or not,” Chandler said. “It was a close race, so I certainly understand how he feels.”

The races in Kentucky’s 3rd and 6th Congressional Districts were being watched nationally as possible indicators of how Republicans would do across the country.

The two seats were important to Republicans, who surpassed the 39 seats they needed to take from Democrats to gain a House majority.

Yet, despite the talk of change, Kentucky voters sent five of six incumbents — four Republicans and a Democrat — back to Congress for two more years.

Republican incumbents in Kentucky’s other four districts — Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville, Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green, Geoff Davis of Fort Mitchell and Hal Rogers of Somerset — each cruised to re-election.

Yarmuth, a former newspaper and magazine publisher first elected to Congress in 2006, praised current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and President Barack Obama, who appeared in multiple negative ads run by Republicans and GOP-leaning third-party groups, as well as the Democratic-controlled Congress. Yarmuth listed a series of measures passed in the last two years, including new regulations on credit cards and a health care overhaul.

“We did that with Nancy Pelosi’s leadership and Barack Obama’s leadership,” Yarmuth said. “I wish there was another podium because I feel Nancy Pelosi has been in this campaign. She needs to do a victory lap with me.”

Nathan Hamblin, a 20-year-old student from Nicholasville, chose Barr over Chandler in the central Kentucky race. Hamblin, a self-described “avid conservative,” said Barr can help straighten out the direction of the country.

“He’ll fight to get the country on track,” Hamblin said. “The way it’s going, I think the Republicans can do better.”

In Louisville, special education teacher Mya Barnes, a Democrat, chose Yarmuth, saying she didn’t “know much about who this other guy is” in reference to Lally. Barnes, 30, described Yarmuth as a “progressive, intelligent guy.”

“That’s my feeling of what we need, intelligent progressives out there,” Barnes said as she held on to her Australian shepherd dog, Shadow.

Both contested congressional races played out on similar themes — incumbents campaigning on creating or preserving jobs in the district while the challengers attack “Washington politicians” and promise to cut spending and tackle the national debt.

GOP adds to Ky. Senate majority

by DYLAN LOVAN, Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Republicans defeated two Democratic incumbents to tighten their grip on the Kentucky Senate Tuesday night.

A third GOP candidate had a strong lead in the open 34th District seat held by retiring Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley of Richmond.

In that district, Republican Jared Carpenter had a commanding lead with most precincts reporting.

If Carpenter wins, Republicans would hold a 22-15 majority in the Senate, along with one independent who votes with Republicans. That independent, Bob Leeper of Paducah, was in a tight three-way race Tuesday night.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Carpenter had 23,456 votes, or 65 percent, to Democrat Lee Murphy’s 11,661 votes, or 32 percent. A third candidate, Don VanWinkle, had 995 votes, or 3 percent.

Longtime Democratic Sen. David Boswell of Owensboro lost to Republican Joe Bowen in western Kentucky’s 8th District, a seat Boswell has held since 1991.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bowen had 18,053 votes, or 52 percent, to Boswell’s 16,890 votes, or 48 percent.

Republican Mike Wilson, a Christian radio executive, defeated Democratic incumbent Mike Reynolds in the 32nd Senate District, which includes Butler and Warren counties.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Wilson had 18,926 votes, or 55 percent, to Reynolds’ 15,846 votes, or 45 percent.

Republican Sen. Alice Forgy-Kerr was leading Democratic challenger Don Blevins in a close race for Lexington’s 12th District.

Kerr had 20,341 votes, or 51 percent, to Blevins’ 19,397 votes, or 49 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Leeper was ahead Tuesday night in a tight race in western Kentucky’s 2nd District with Democrat Rex Smith, a former state representative who has loaned nearly $300,000 to his campaign. Leeper, who has twice changed party affiliations in his Senate career, caucuses with the GOP.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Leeper had 17,506 votes, or 46 percent, to Smith’s 16,657 votes, or 44 percent. A third candidate, Republican William East, had 3,816 votes, or 10 percent.

The Democrats picked up a seat with the defeat of longtime Republican Sen. Elizabeth Tori.

Tori lost the 10th District seat to Democrat Dennis Parrett, who ran TV ads critical of comments Tori made about her Senate pay. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Parrett had 16,291 votes, or 52 percent to Tori’s 15,250 votes, or 48 percent. The seat includes Hardin County and part of Jefferson County.

Tori has served in the Senate since 1995.

In the Kentucky House, Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark was leading political newcomer Brian Simpson in Louisville’s 46th District. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Clark had 8,639 votes, or 55 percent, to Simpson’s 6,943 votes, or 46 percent. Clark has been in the leadership position since 1993.

Democrat House incumbents Charlie Hoffman of Georgetown, Dottie Sims of Horse Cave, Tim Firkins of Louisville, Kent Stevens of Lawrenceburg and Don Pasley of Winchester were trailing GOP challengers Tuesday night.

Democrats held a 65-35 advantage over Republicans in the House before Tuesday night’s elections.

A look at the newest faces in the Senate
by The Associated Press

ARKANSAS:

JOHN BOOZMAN, REPUBLICAN

A former offensive tackle for the Arkansas Razorbacks, Boozman is an optometrist in Rogers, Ark., and a former cattle rancher and school board member. His brother, the late Dr. Fay Boozman, ran unsuccessfully against Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 1998.

Boozman was elected to the House in 2001 in a special election to fill seat of Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson, who resigned to become head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He finished Hutchinson’s term representing the northwest Arkansas district and won re-election four times.

He is the only Republican member of Arkansas’ congressional delegation and has been a GOP loyalist. He regularly sided with President George W. Bush’s administration.

Boozman, 59, won the Republican primary in May, defeating seven rivals despite criticism over his vote in favor of the $700 billion bank bailout. He says the relief package was needed to avoid a financial meltdown. He opposed the health care law and vows to try to repeal it.

He and his wife, Cathy, have three daughters.

CONNECTICUT:

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, DEMOCRAT

Connecticut’s longtime attorney general is a former state legislator who has brushed aside entreaties to run for governor to hold out for a Senate bid.

His father was a German Jew who escaped Hitler’s Germany in 1935. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Blumenthal earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Yale University. He was a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

In 1969 he served as an aide to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then in the Nixon administration, and in 1974 was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. He was an administrative assistant to Democratic Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, and he also served as the U.S. attorney for Connecticut from 1977 to 1981.

Blumenthal, 64, was first elected attorney general in 1990 and is in his fifth four-year term. He and his wife, Cynthia, have four children.

DELAWARE:

CHRIS COONS, DEMOCRAT

He has been chief executive of Delaware’s largest county since 2004, having previously served four years as county council president.

Coons was born in Greenwich, Conn., and moved to Delaware as a child. After his parents divorced, his mother married into the family that founded and runs the privately held W.L. Gore & Associates, maker of Gore-Tex fabrics and other products. Before becoming county executive, he was a lawyer for Gore.

He became a Democrat in college following a trip to Africa that caused him to question his Republican beliefs. He wrote of the experience in a college newspaper column, which political opponents seized upon this year because of its title: “Chris Coons: The Making of a Bearded Marxist.”

Coons, 47, is married and has three children. He hold degrees in political science and chemistry from Amherst College and graduate degrees in religion and law from Yale University.

FLORIDA:

MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN

An attorney, the 39-year-old Miami native served as speaker of the Florida House and became a rising star in the GOP as a fiscal conservative.

Born to Cuban immigrants, Rubio began his career in public service as a city commissioner in West Miami and entered the Florida House at age 29. Within eight years he ascended from a representative seated by special election to majority whip, majority leader and eventually House speaker.

Fiscal conservatism is the cornerstone of Rubio’s philosophy. He says controlling the national debt and paring government entitlement programs are the most important things lawmakers can accomplish. Rubio wants to reinstate tax cuts for the wealthy enacted under President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, slash corporate taxes and eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividend profits. He also supports eliminating the estate tax.

In the Republican primary for the Senate, Rubio initially trailed Gov. Charlie Crist by 30 points. The national GOP quickly embraced Crist, but Rubio overtook him with substantial tea party support. Twice he set records for the most lucrative three-month fundraising periods for a Senate race in Florida, collecting $4.5 million and $5 million, respectively. Crist, meanwhile, turned to a bid as an independent.

Rubio lives in West Miami with his wife, Jeanette, and four children.

INDIANA:

DAN COATS, REPUBLICAN

This new face is not quite as fresh as others. Coats served in the Senate from 1989 to 1999.

He was born in Jackson, Mich., and earned a law degree from Indiana University in 1971. He joined Rep. Dan Quayle’s staff in 1976 and won Quayle’s House seat when Quayle ran for the Senate in 1980. When Quayle was elected vice president in 1988, Coats was appointed to fill his Senate seat, and he developed a reputation as a social conservative.

He served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005 and worked as a Washington lobbyist before deciding to take another run at Senate, saying he didn’t like where the country was headed.

Supporters say Coats has integrity, experience and a conservative record well-suited for Indiana. Critics say he’s a rich Washington insider who has lived away from the Hoosier state for too long.

Coats, 67, and his wife, Marsha, have three children.

KANSAS:

JERRY MORAN, REPUBLICAN

He tempers a conservative Republican voting record with a folksy style that keeps him from alienating moderates. An early voice for repeal of the health care law, he is likely to remain a reliable vote against President Barack Obama’s agenda.

Moran, 56, grew up in western Kansas and practiced law in Hays. He won a seat in the Kansas Senate by a narrow margin in 1988 and served until 1997.

Representing the 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas since 1997, Moran travels home on weekends and prides himself on not having moved his family to Washington from his hometown of Hays.

KENTUCKY:

RAND PAUL, REPUBLICAN

The 47-year-old eye doctor tapped into tea party fervor with a fiercely antiestablishment message. He has strong family ties to politics — his father is Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a former presidential candidate and libertarian icon.

Quiet and intense, Rand Paul railed against government bailouts and deficit spending in promoting low taxes and limited government. He’s also personally frugal, according to friends who say he mows the lawn at his home in a gated community and shops the Internet for cheap golf shoes.

Paul was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Texas and settled in Bowling Green, a college town near his wife’s hometown, about 20 years ago. He runs his own ophthalmology practice.

Paul attended Baylor University but left early without a bachelor’s degree for medical school at Duke University. He helped create a certification group for ophthalmologists after objecting to a powerful medical group’s policy.

Paul and his wife, Kelley, have three sons. He has coached youth baseball, soccer and basketball, and his family attends a Presbyterian church, where his wife is a deacon.

OHIO:

ROB PORTMAN, REPUBLICAN

Soft-spoken and meticulous, he is known for his deep knowledge of tax and finance issues and has taught college courses on the subject. The former congressman was also closely allied with both Bush administrations.

Born in Cincinnati in 1955, he graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan law school.

Under President George H.W. Bush, Portman’s roles ranged from White House staffer to legislative liaison to stand-in at political debate rehearsals. When George W. Bush entered the White House in 2000, Portman was named budget director and later U.S. trade representative.

He represented southwest Ohio in Congress for 12 years beginning in 1993. As a congressman, he championed bills that streamlined the federal tax code, increased IRS oversight, provided financial incentives to countries that protect their rainforests and allowed display of the Ten Commandments in public places.

He owns the historic Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio, the state’s oldest continuously operating business. An advocate for restoration, he wrote a book about the hotel’s history called “Wisdom’s Paradise.” He and his wife, Jane, have three children.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

KELLY AYOTTE, REPUBLICAN

She resigned as attorney general to run for the Senate. After former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed her, she won the party primary by 1,667 votes over a conservative supported by local tea party activists.

A fiscal and social conservative, Ayotte, 42, opposes gay marriage and abortion. She pledges not to ask for special spending requests known as earmarks, something retiring GOP Sen. Judd Gregg believed was a legitimate way to direct money to worthy projects.

Ayotte also wants federal agencies to propose 20 percent cuts to their budgets to start a discussion about what funding is essential. She supports repealing the health care law and opposes economic stimulus spending. She says the private sector should handle health care reforms and creating jobs, not government.

She would not raise the retirement age for Social Security for those near retirement but would consider it for younger workers. She opposes reinstating the inheritance tax.

NORTH DAKOTA:

JOHN HOEVEN, REPUBLICAN

The nation’s longest-serving governor — he took office Dec. 15, 2000 — he is the only North Dakota governor to be elected to three four-year terms, winning his last two with more than 70 percent of the vote.

In his Senate race, Hoeven, 53, stuck to themes of budget discipline, job creation and opposition to tax increases. He avoided specifics about how he would trim the growth of federal spending.

A former Democrat, he has governed as a moderate Republican. He supported large state spending increases on public school teacher salaries and North Dakota’s university system as the state’s energy- and agriculture-dependent economy has prospered.

GOP conservatives have grumbled about state spending growth during Hoeven’s administration. However, he faced no tea party primary challenger, and a tea party candidate who contested Hoeven’s bid for the state Republican Party’s convention endorsement garnered only 21 percent of delegate votes.

WEST VIRGINIA:

JOE MANCHIN, DEMOCRAT

He has enjoyed a reputation as a popular centrist Democrat. He was secretary of state and a former multiterm state lawmaker when he ran for governor in 2004, his second run for the state’s highest office. Two years remain on his second term.

As a gubernatorial candidate he had the backing of both the state’s AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce. Those groups also endorsed his Senate bid.

Under Manchin, West Virginia successfully privatized its troubled workers’ compensation system and has gradually cut several consumer and business taxes. It also kept its state budget balanced without the tax hikes, layoffs or other painful steps seen elsewhere during the recession.

Manchin, 63, may be best known nationally for his handling of the coal mining disasters at Sago in 2006 and Upper Big Branch in April. Considered a champion of the state’s coal industry, he has been at odds with the Obama administration on that front.

California voters reject legalization of marijuana

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California voters reject legalization of marijuana.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Election 2010 News: Paul, Portman Elected to US Senate; Davis Re-elected