News briefs from around Kentucky at 1:58 a.m. EST

Sunday, March 9, 2014

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Tea party challengers struggle to continue success

Four years after the tea party rocked the political world by ousting several prominent Republicans in Congress, the ultra-conservative movement finds itself with slimmer prospects as it moves into the new election season.

In Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primaries in Texas, the movement mostly settled for having an impact on key races rather than actually winning them. That may become a pattern in other states as primaries continue into the fall, many national GOP strategists believe.

Though the hard-right flank is still powerful in the conservative heartland, its candidates face a different environment than was present in 2010 and 2012, when they won a series of key contests, highlighted by the election of Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas.

“In 2010, the ideological intensity was burning hot inside the GOP giving rise to the tea party,” said Greg Strimple, a Republican pollster and senior adviser to Texas U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. “As the party has moved to meet their concerns, the tea party’s outsized role has diminished.”

Only one Republican tea party candidate is seen as having a real shot at a GOP Senate nomination this year: Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging six-term Sen. Thad Cochran. No tea party challengers are expected to win in this year’s House races.

Four years ago, 28 of the 60 new Republicans elected to the House were backed by the tea party. Movement favorites won Senate seats in Utah, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Florida and Texas in the last two elections.

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Murray State names 2 as presidential finalists

MURRAY, Ky. (AP) - Murray State University has narrowed its presidential search down to two finalists after a third person dropped out because of health issues. The next president is expected to be selected Wednesday.

University Vice President of Communications Catherine Sivills told The Paducah Sun and Murray Ledger & Times that Robert “Bob” Davies, president of Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Ore., and James Smith, president of Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., are finalists for the position.

Both men will visit the campus in Kentucky in the coming week.

Each man will tour campus and participate in an open forum in Wrather Auditorium.

Davies said Friday he was honored to reach this point in the selection process and cited Murray State’s national reputation for academic success and community-minded programs.

“Murray State understands that a college isn’t just contained inside a campus but is interconnected within the economic, civil and social life of the entire community,” Davies said. “The role of the president is to have a visible presence and to set the tone daily.”

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