AP: The latest on the Kentucky caucus

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Latest on the Kentucky caucus on Saturday (all times local):

7:35 p.m.

Donald Trump has a small lead over rival Ted Cruz in Kentucky’s Republican presidential caucus in early returns.

The boisterous businessman was winning by small margins throughout the eastern Kentucky coalfields. This is Kentucky’s first presidential caucus since 1984.

Party leaders opted for a caucus this year to benefit Rand Paul, the state’s junior U.S. senator who ended his presidential campaign last month. Paul donated $250,000 to cover the party’s expenses for holding the caucus.


5 p.m.

The caucus sites have closed in Kentucky’s Republican presidential caucus.

The sites were open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time in the first caucus held in Kentucky in decades. Forty-six delegates are at stake.

Kentuckians are used to voting on a Tuesday in May at their local precinct. Instead, on Saturday, there was generally only one voting station per county. And once they were there, they could find people inside the caucus location trying to woo their vote — something not allowed in an election run by state government.


3 p.m.

When it came time for Barbara Eljizi to cast her vote in Kentucky’s Republican presidential caucus, she said she voted for someone who shares her attitude.

“Trump,” she said.

The 68-year-old Eljizi voted in Bowling Green Saturday morning. She was a court reporter for the Marines in the 1960s. She moved to Kentucky from Pennsylvania about five years ago. Her husband worked for Russell Athletic until he took a buyout recently.

She said she likes Trump because he says what people are afraid to say.

“I think as president, the world would be afraid of us. They’re not afraid of us now,” she said.


2:30 p.m.

Wynn White and her mother-in-law, 73-year-old Debbie White, stood in the wind and rain outside a Baptist Church in Florence, waiting to cast their ballots for John Kasich.

Debbie White blamed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who arranged for Kentucky’s first caucus in decades so he could keep his Senate seat and continue his failed bid for president at the same time.

She lives in a retirement home, where she’s always been able to vote in the past, and many of her neighbors couldn’t get out to the caucus.

“Because of Rand Paul, I had to stand outside, I never had to do that in my lifetime,” she said, calling it “self-serving.”

Both women chose Kasich because they believe he is more reasonable than the others in the field.


12:45 p.m.

Tucker Oldham stood in line at Seneca High School in Louisville to cast his vote for “anybody but Trump” in the Kentucky caucus.

He decided on Marco Rubio, not because he particularly likes him but because he believes he has the best shot at rallying the Republican establishment behind him and taking on Trump.

The 46-year-old Oldham says he has been horrified by Trump’s vulgar talk and vague campaign promises, and believes he’s nothing more than “a marketing machine.” He says he has been disappointed by the combative, insulting turn the primary has taken. He said he’s a lifelong Republican but “that might change after this election.”

Oldham, who works in technology sales, described having to choose between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election as “an absolute nightmare.”

Oldham says, “I’ll vote for my cat Sally as a write-in.”


12:35 p.m.

How does Donald Trump compare running for president with his other job — businessman and developer?

“This is better than real estate. This is more fun,” he tells a crowd in Wichita, Kansas, before the start of the state’s Republican presidential caucuses.

Trump ditched a planned speech at a conference of conservatives in the Washington area so he could make one last stop in Kansas.

The GOP front-runner tells his supporters: “After making this huge U-turn to Kansas, if I lose, I’m going to be so angry at you.”

Establishment figures are frantically looking for any way to stop Trump, perhaps at a contested convention.

Trump says “the Republicans are eating their own. They’ve got to be very careful. We have to bring things together.”


10:50 a.m.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin posed for photographs with fans as he arrived at Seneca High School in Louisville to cast his ballot for the Republican presidential nominee.

He refused to say who he supported at the ballot box in the Kentucky caucus.

But he pointed at the crowd packed into the auditorium on Saturday morning. Bevin said he was surprised and excited for the turnout, adding “have you ever seen this kind of enthusiasm for a primary in the state of Kentucky? We never have.”

A caucus worker asked him to show his identification, as a horde of media surrounded him and caucus-goers struggled to snap photos. Bevin laughed and pulled it from his pocket.


10:30 a.m.

Republican voters flooded into Seneca High School in Louisville to vote for their choice for a presidential nominee soon as the doors opened.

Within minutes, hundreds were lined up and waiting to cast their ballots for the Kentucky caucus on Saturday morning.

Linda Huber, the location’s caucus chair, said officials were “thrilled” by the turnout. They weren’t sure quite what to expect. Saturday is Kentucky’s first caucus in decades, designed by the Republican Party to allow Rand Paul run for president at the same time he ran for Senate.

Paul has since dropped out of the presidential race, but his name remains on the ballot with 10 others, though only four candidates remain contenders.

The line at Seneca High School moved swiftly.

Huber gawked at the crowd filing around the room: “look at this, can you believe this?”


3:15 a.m.

The rambunctious Republican race for president comes to Kentucky on Saturday with a little-publicized caucus that has some party leaders worrying about low turnout.

Caucus locations open at 10 a.m. local time across the state and close at 4 p.m. Most counties have just one location, though some larger counties have multiple sites to vote. Nine smaller counties won’t have a caucus location at all, sending would-be caucus-goers to neighboring counties to cast their ballots.

The caucus was proposed and paid for by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, the former Republican presidential candidate who wanted to run for president and re-election at the same time without violating a state law banning candidates from appearing on the ballot twice in the same election. Paul ended his campaign after the Iowa caucuses but will still appear on the ballot.

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