- Associated Press - Sunday, March 9, 2014
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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Ky high court to hear death penalty appeal

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal in the long-running case of an escaped inmate from an Oklahoma prison facing a death sentence in the fatal kidnapping of a Kentucky distillery worker.

The justices will hear the case of 56-year-old Michael Dale St. Clair on March 13 in Frankfort. St. Clair is appealing the conviction and sentence out of Hardin County in the 1991 kidnapping of Francis “Frank” Brady of Bardstown. Prosecutors say St. Clair and an accomplice snatched Brady from a rest stop along Interstate 65. Brady was later found shot to death in neighboring Bullitt County.

St. Clair has also been sentenced to death in Bullitt County on a charge of murder. The justices heard an appeal in that case in February.

Prosecutors said Brady and another escaped inmate, Dennis Gene Reese, were on a multi-state crime spree when they kidnapped Brady to steal his truck and later killed him near Lebanon Junction.

Reese and St. Clair had broken out of the county jail in Durant, Okla., on Sept. 19, 1991. At the time, St. Clair was serving four life sentences for murder and Reese was awaiting trial on charges of strangling and beating a woman to death.

The two men are also charged in New Mexico with the 1991 kidnapping and shooting death of 22-year-old Timothy Keeling of Denver.

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Judge reinstates mayor removed by city council

LANCASTER, Ky. (AP) - The mayor of a central Kentucky city has been reinstated to office by a judge who found the city council lacked evidence of misconduct to justify her removal.

Lancaster Mayor Barbara Powers called Friday’s ruling by Garrard Circuit Judge Hunter Daugherty a vindication. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported (http://bit.ly/O2lk5Whttp://bit.ly/O2lk5W ) that Powers won’t officially return to office until Daugherty signs an order vacating the city council’s unanimous vote to depose her.

The removal of Powers stemmed from a workplace harassment complaint filed by City Clerk Shari Lane. Lane alleged that Powers had harassed and “bullied” her daily during the three years that Powers had been in office.

The council voted 6-0 on Nov. 23 to remove Powers after a public hearing that included testimony from five witnesses.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.comhttp://www.kentucky.com

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