Kentucky candidates make final pitches ahead of election

Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul reaffirmed his faith in a “hands off” federal government in a final burst of campaigning across Kentucky on Monday, as he approached the finish line of his reelection bid against Democratic challenger Charles Booker.

Paul headlined get-out-the vote rallies statewide ahead of the election ending Tuesday, while Booker concentrated on his hometown of Louisville, the state’s largest city, after an extended statewide bus tour. Many Kentuckians cast ballots during early voting last week.

The U.S. Senate race tops a long midterm ballot as Kentuckians prepared to elect representatives to Congress, the state legislature and local offices.

Those contests were largely overshadowed by a proposed constitutional amendment dealing with abortion. The measure asked Kentuckians to decide whether the state’s constitution should declare that it doesn’t protect the right to an abortion. Defeat of the amendment would be a setback for legislative Republicans who put it on the ballot hoping to squelch challenges to anti-abortion laws.

On another ballot measure, voters will decide whether the GOP-dominated legislature should have the power to call itself into special sessions.

Campaigning Monday, Paul said that Republicans had the momentum in Kentucky and nationally as the GOP looks to take control of Congress and solidify its dominance in the Bluegrass State. Stressing his libertarian beliefs, Paul described the GOP’s approach as “hands off,” declaring: “We’re the party of leave me alone.” With his staunchly anti-abortion stand, he did not include decisions about abortion in his litany of issues the government should stay out of.

Paul, who is seeking a third term, has railed against what he sees as excessive federal spending — a theme he continued during the last day of campaigning.

“We are the party that believes that our rights come from our creator,” the senator said. “That our job as elected officials is not to get you a cell phone or free college or free food or free housing. Our job is to defend your liberty, and in that cause I will not rest.”

Booker, who faced monumental odds in the GOP-trending state, continued his theme of inclusion. The Black former state lawmaker said that in a way he had already won by bringing out new voters and campaign volunteers — a movement he said will continue beyond Tuesday.

“If I had enough time to sit down with every single one of you, I guarantee you, I dare you to prove me wrong, we will find something we have in common,” Booker said at a recent rally. “We have more in common, all of us.”

Booker, who portrayed himself as a political outsider, embraced a progressive agenda that includes support for sweeping health care, anti-poverty programs and legalized abortion.

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