Primary Election Night - Live Blog

by John Gregory | 05/20/14 6:30 PM

10 p.m.
Thanks for watching our coverage tonight. Stay with KET and KET.org/publicaffairs for continuing political coverage in weeks ahead. Later this evening, we’ll post clips from the remarks from Sen. McConnell, Secretary of State Grimes, and Matt Bevin. Then tomorrow, we’ll add the full video of their statements.

Full video of tonight’s coverage is available here.

Text highlights of the victory speech by Grimes are below. Click here for highlights of McConnell’s victory speech and click here for highlights of Bevin’s concession speech.

9:10 p.m.
Alison Lundergan Grimes takes the stage saying "My fellow Kentuckians it is an honor to stand before you as your nominee... Together we will take this fight to Mitch McConnell and hold him accountable for his 30 years of failed leadership… Kentucky will finally get a senator who puts people above partisanship."

Grimes touts her just-completed 10-day, 50-county bus tour, with Democrats, Republicans, and independents coming together to embrace her campaign.

She thanks Matt Bevin for leading "a very spirited campaign against 'Senator Gridlock.'" Says she knows it's not easy being a candidate, but that she wants to be a fresh, independent voice in Washington, D.C.

"Let us have no illusions about what is ahead of us… with his millions of D.C. lobbyist insider dollars and out-state-political action committees, Mitch McConnell is going to try to buy his way back to Washington, D.C... He wants this campaign to be about anything but his record. What does it say about a man who's been in Washington, D.C. now 30 years in the Senate that he has no record to run on. It can only be on attacks and misleading information that he runs a campaign. Indeed Mitch McConnell would have you believe that President Obama is on Kentucky's 2014 election ballot…"

"Senator McConnell, this race is between you and me. That's the name that appears on the ballot. And as you said so many years ago, it is my number one priority to make sure Mitch McConnell doesn't see another term. Now Mitch McConnell, he wants to tell you who I am, and he has said, he claims Kentucky will be lost if we trade in his seat for a Kentucky woman who he believes will sit on the back bench. Well I'm here to tell you tonight, my fellow Kentuckians, I am not an empty dress, I am not a rubber stamp, and I am not a cheerleader, I am a strong Kentucky woman, who is an independent thinker... As Kentucky's next United States Senator, I'll answer to the people of this state. I won't answer to the President, no matter who he or she might be… We all know Washington is broken, it's not working for Kentucky, and after 30 years, it is Mitch McConnell at the center of the gridlock, obstruction, and extreme partisanship that we see... I'm running because Kentucky deserves better…"

"This election is not about party control, it's about two very different visions for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, one that wants to take us forward where we should and deserve to be, and another that wants to continue to hold us back where we've been for the past three decades…" Grimes claims McConnell has voted 15 times against raising the minimum wage, then ays it will be the first thing she puts her name to. "It's not a minimum wage, it's a living wage."

When it comes to women, says McConnell is again on the wrong side of the issues like pay equity and violence against women. "Sen. McConnell, if you can't stand up to protect Kentucky's women against violence, you don't deserve to be a United States Senator."

Says it's been on McConnell's watch, not hers, that thousands of coal jobs were lost, clean coal technology went unfunded, and the EPA enacted "over-burdensome" regulations on Kentucky. "This election will be about holding you, Sen. McConnell, accountable for all that has happened on your watch… I don't agree with the President's war on coal, I think it's wrong for Kentucky… As Kentucky's next United States Senator, I will fight to make sure that coal has a long-term place in our national energy policy... Anything that you hear to the contrary from Mitch McConnell, it is a lie."

On veterans: "Mitch McConnell votes against them… I will continue to champion and advocate on their behalf of our Kentucky heroes."

For working men and women, "I believe that collective bargaining, it's a fundamental right for our American workers… Together it is labor that has lifted millions out of poverty, together we will grow the middle class…"

Grimes references McConnell's quote about it not being his job brings jobs to Kentucky. Says it will be her number one priority to help put Kentuckians back to work. Says this race is about someone who's never put forward a jobs plan in 30 years, and doesn't believe it's his responsibility. "Unlike Mitch McConnell, I will rise every morning and go to bed every night with the burden on my back of helping to put Kentuckians back to work. That's the jobs of a United States Senator…"

"This election, it comes down to one thing: If you think Washington is working for you, that they are in touch with you and your family, that the last six years, well, you'd like to have them reduplicated, then you keep that senior senator in Washington until 2020. But if you're like the majority of Kentuckians and you think that Washington isn't working for this state, that Mitch McConnell is out of touch and gone Washington, and we want to have a better six years, then I invite Kentuckians all across this Commonwealth, join our campaign. Together, we will rid Kentucky of a man who hasn't worked for us in Washington, won't work for us in Washington, and replace him with a fighter who will…"

[Watch excerpts or the full statement by Grimes.]

9:07 p.m.
Gov. Steve Beshear speaking at Grimes headquarters in Lexington. Says Democrats must maintain control of the state House of Representatives, and win the U.S. Senate seat. Says after 30 years of dysfunction, it’s time to bring Sen. Mitch McConnell home.

8:41 p.m.
Sen. Mitch McConnell takes the stage, saying the powers-that-be in Washington have treated Kentuckians with contempt for five and half years. Says he spoke with his Republican opponent Matt Bevin and congratulated him on a hard-fought campaign. He credits Bevin for making him a stronger candidate, and urges Bevin supports to join the McConnell campaign.

He acknowledges his wife's journey from an immigrant who didn't speak English to being the only Kentucky women to ever serve in a presidential cabinet. He says she's an American success story and an inspiration. McConnell also gives credit to his mother. During his childhood battle with polio, he says his mother responded with tenacity, determination, and patience to give him a normal childhood. "I've tried to bring that same determination and tenacity to every cause I've taken up on behalf of the people of this state, whether it was fighting for folks who'd been exposed to radiation at the uranium enrichment plant in Paducah or doing battle with left-wing extremists who want to destroy our coal industry..."

"I fight for good Kentucky jobs every single day, I fight for policies that will make us more competitive… And everyday I fight against policies that make life harder for the people of Kentucky. Then, there's my opponent. My opponent is in this race because Barack Obama and Harry Reid want her in this race. There's a reason... every Hollywood liberal is sending her a check. It's not because they care about Kentucky, I can assure you of that. It's because they know as well as we do that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between a candidate who puts Harry Reid in charge and Harry Reid himself. A vote for my opponent is a vote for guy who says coal makes us sick... A vote for my opponent is a vote for Obamacare and a president who sold it to us on a mountain of lies. And that's why this race isn't about one party against another. It's about a government that thinks it can lie to its own citizens and get away with it. It is about holding the people who've done this accountable."

McConnell tells a story about a mother of five girls in Owensboro who lost her doctor and saw her health insurance premium triple, allegedly because Obamacare. Says she and many others have gotten a raw deal.

"The American people have had enough... Barack Obama's allies have one goal this year... to cling to their power. They've made an art-form of picking candidates who pose no threat to that power whatsoever. This is how Obamacare became law. Every single candidate that Barack Obama and Harry Reid select to send to the Senate fell right in line to pass a bill the American people didn't want. And if you look at my Democratic opponent this year, it's clear she'd be no different."

"[Grimes] is a partisan's partisan, who's been practicing party politics since she learned to talk. I mean let's be honest, anybody that learned politics at the school of Jerry Lundergan will not be a model of bipartisanship... Alison Lundergan Grimes is Barack Obama's candidate… Kentucky cannot afford to empower the people who've been waging a war on jobs in this state for five-and-a-half years. So tonight I ask every voter of this state to help us win this race and put Kentucky first. The people who hand-picked my opponent are not on your side. They don't care a whit about Kentucky."

The senator relates a story about Obama Administration favoring an endangered minnow over raising the water level in Lake Cumberland, which he says would have cost Kentucky jobs and tourism revenues. "This is the only time I know of that somebody has tried to save a fish from too much water. I fought back and we won. And I'll keep fighting this and every other attempt by the Obama crowd to tell Kentuckians how to run their lives. Send me back to Washington and Kentuckians will have a champion in the capitol, and if the American people give Republicans the majority in the Senate, you'll be of the United States Senate once again. I'll never say one thing and do another. I will restore the Senate as a place a high purpose. I will carry out my office with dignity and respect for the people of this state and this country..."

"How do we get America back on track? We can take the reigns of power away from Harry Reid and make this president accountable. Make me the majority leader and Kentucky will lead America. Put this son of the Commonwealth in charge of the Senate and I will take this crowd to task. I will do everything I can to repeal and replace Obamacare. I will keep the liberal judges who are rewriting our laws from filling up our courts. I will hold the bureaucrats who are waging war on our people and our way of life to account. And Kentucky, my friends, will lead America..."

"I don't care what party you're in, it doesn't make any difference, I'm asking you to join me in this effort. And when the pundits and historians look back on the last two years of Barack Obama's presidency and they try to explain how an administration that started out so extreme was finally made to listen and to do the people's will, they'll say it started right here in Kentucky..."

[Watch excerpts or the full statement by McConnell.]

8:34 p.m.
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao is introducing her husband, Sen. Mitch McConnell. Says Kentucky Republicans have sent a clear message to Washington. Says her husband is never happier than when he is home in the Commonwealth. Chao continues, “If Mitch rises to the post of [Senate Majority Leader], he will always put Kentucky first…. He will hold the Obama Administration accountable for the damage they have done… He will fight against the administration’s war on Kentucky jobs… Mitch has had no closer ally in fighting for Kentucky than Sen. Rand Paul.”

Then Rand Paul appears on video link, apologizing for his absence, saying someone has to stay in Washington to keep an eye on Harry Reid. Pledges to help Republicans take the Kentucky House of Representatives. Says central them of Senate race is “Obama needs Alison Grimes, Kentucky needs Mitch McConnell…. Republicans must now come together again and unite to stop Harry Reid and his liberal allies in the U.S. Senate…. Only a Republican Senate will end President Obama’s war on coal.”

8:30 p.m.
Eastern Kentucky’s state House District 93 Democratic primary race tightening. With 45% of vote counted, challenger Chris Harris has 51%, incumbent Rep. Keith Hall has 49%.

8:22 p.m.
Al Cross says Matt Bevin has endorsed the Republican platform but not incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell. Says the Senator needs a personal endorsement from Bevin to help unite the GOP.

8:06 p.m.
Matt Bevin, surrounded by his nine children, is speaking to supporters in Louisville. "Nine months ago, people thought we were crazy. Some have thought we were crazy the whole time. But I tell you what, here's the reality: we know why we're here. We know the significance of this.... I'm just a guy who, frankly, nine months ago most of you wouldn't have known from a hole in the ground, and yet here I stand, as the votes are coming in, this was much closer than many people anticipated it would have any chance of being. We're not going to win this race, and that's alright."

Bevin says he has spoken to Sen. Mitch McConnell and conceded the race. "This was never about winning a single seat. This was never about becoming some new version of the same old thing. That was never what this race was about. This was about the very heartbeat of America... We've heard a lot of discussion about how somehow this is a schism of sorts, somehow a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. But every single one of knows and some of you have heard me discuss how this is so much bigger than that. This a battle for the heart and soul of the entire political process..."

"I will tell you this whole race has largely been about exercising our right to vote, exercising our right to have our voices heard. This is about choice, it's about competition...."

"I poured my entire life into this over the last nine months... and I've been blessed the fact that so many of you, including those behind me on this state, have done the exact same thing. But I'm asking you tonight, take the high road, take the high road as we leave here. Be the bigger person, return the scorn and enmity of others with dignity. If we as voters, if we as a party, if we as citizens of this great nation, if return fire with fire, then we will burn our great nation to the ground, and we deserve better than that."

"We know, and we're not going to soon forget, that we have been lied about. We know that we have been boxed out. We know that we've been ridiculed. We know that we've been mocked and scorned, often by people who've never even met us... You have held your heads high, and we have fought on. We fought on because we are fighting for a higher purpose than ourselves. We have fought on because this is bigger than one race, this is bigger than one Senate seat... because this is about the future of the United States of America. That's what this has been about. The attacks that we've received have made our opposition smaller people. It has cheapened their accomplishments, and it has weakened the foundation of their platform, and it has eroded our faith in the political process and in our political leaders..."

"We must not succumb to being defined by the pettiness of others. We must be better than that. We must be bigger than that... We must model for our fellow citizens and for the generations to come what dignity and respect look like... We must do this because America is worth it..."

"We have long been a beacon of light in a dark world and we continue to be. And may that beacon not flicker because of our response to the smallness of others. Rather, may that beacon burn brighter than ever because we chose to stoke that flame rather than extinguish it... Do not let history show that the torch went dark on our watch because we chose to repay lies with lies, to repay hatred with hatred, or pettiness with pettiness. Do not leave this place with a sense of defeat, go out boldly… with your faith in our great nation renewed, restored, encouraged, with a stronger appreciation for the exceptionalism of America, and a commitment to fight for its preservation..."

Bevin confirms he will not support the "Democrat" platform over the Republican platform. "There is much that ails us as a nation, as a state, as communities... the very fabric of this nation is being stretched and we know that, but it is not going to help that at all if we find ourselves contributing to the shredding of that fabric. And so my challenge to you is as we said earlier, rise up. Go out of here boldly, be part of the solutions for this great nation. We need solutions and it saddens me to say that there is zero chance that the solutions for what ails us is going to come from the Democrat Party.... these solutions must come from within the Republican ranks... And to that end, be a part of the solution. Don't be discouraged by this. Be encouraged by this... Take this challenge and run with it... Support the solutions that this party needs, this state needs, and this nation needs."

[Watch excerpts or the full statement by Bevin.]

7:57 p.m.
Current state legislative results: House 93rd Democratic Primary, Chris Harris leading incumbent Keith Hall.

7:55 p.m.
Hosts and guests assembled in the KET studio ready to begin live coverage at 8 p.m. Watch on-air on KET, and online at KET.org/live. Several candidate speeches expected soon.

7:37 p.m.
With 32 percent of precincts reporting for U.S. Senate Republican primary, Matt Bevin is pulling 37% of the vote. Concession from the Tea Party challenger is expected soon.

7:24 p.m.
In closely watched state legislative races: challenger Max Wise has 50 point lead over incumbent Sara Beth Gregory in Senate District 16 Republican primary in south-central Kentucky. 21 percent of the vote is tallied.

In the state House race in District 93 in Pike and Martin Counties, incumbent Democrat Keith Hall has a 14 point lead over his challenger Chris Harris. Only 5 percent of that vote tallied.

And about a third of the vote has been counted in eastern Jefferson County, the 32nd state House Republican primary, where Phil Moffett leads Shellie May, 55 percent to 45 percent.

7:15 p.m.
In 6th Congressional District Democratic primary, Elizabeth Jensen leads 60 – 40 percent over Geoff Young. 16% of the vote has been tallied.

7:05 p.m.
Media outlets have declared Sen. Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes winners in their respective primaries. With 8 percent of vote in, McConnell has a nearly 30 point lead over Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin. Grimes has about a 70 point lead over her closest competitor.

7 p.m.
Polls closed in western Kentucky. Statewide results to follow.

6:30 p.m.
Polls are closed in the state’s eastern time zone. KET will begin reporting returns after polls in western Kentucky close at 7 p.m. Watch the PBS Newshour for on-screen crawls with updates.

At 8 p.m., KET’s live coverage begins. Bill Goodman and Renee Shaw will host with analysis from Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky and former political writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal; Jennifer Moore, founder of Emerge Kentucky and former chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party; and Ellen Williams, former chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky.

Refresh this blog and follow @BillKET on Twitter for updates throughout the evening.