By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes launched a bare-bones campaign website Friday for the U.S. Senate — four days after she announced she would challenge U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and two days after a Republican group posted its own website about Grimes.
McConnell’s campaign and national Republican groups have spent much of the week belittling Grimes for announcing her candidacy Monday at a hastily-called event in a Frankfort building that lacked air conditioning. Political pundits noted that national Democrats who may have heard about Grimes for the first time this week had no way to donate to her campaign.
The site Grimes launched Friday, Alisonforky.com, allows supporters to sign-up for updates from the candidate and make a contribution. It trails the Grimesforsenate.org website launched Wednesday by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The GOP site tries to link Grimes with President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in Kentucky, and convince voters that Grimes is inexperienced. It seeks donations for the NRSC.
“The fact is that Ms. Lundergan Grimes is ill-equipped, ill-prepared and just isn’t ready for this position,” said Brook Hougesen, a spokesman for the NRSC. “It’s strange that a candidate would announce a U.S. Senate campaign without a website, but in this case the obvious reason is that Grimes and liberal Washington allies hope to keep as much about her hidden from Kentucky voters as possible. We share no such fears.”
Grimes spokesman Jonathan Hurst said the NRSC was “foolish” to post a website about Grimes.
“It just shows that Sen. McConnell and his Washington friends will do anything to trick and mislead Kentucky voters,” Hurst said. “The voters will see through them.”
The NRSC’s website about Grimes says Kentuckians “have absolutely no reason to send Alison Lundergan Grimes to Washington.”
It also quotes several media organizations that criticized her news conference.
Politico said Grimes’ “initial steps have raised questions among Republicans and some Democrats about whether she was fully prepared to make her announcement Monday.”
Hurst said an official, statewide rollout of the Grimes’ campaign will occur later this month.
The campaign has begun putting together a high-profile team, according to the National Journal, a weekly magazine.
It said Grimes has brought on veteran Democratic pollster Mark Mellman of the Mellman Group to run her polling operation. Mark Putnam of the Putnam Group, who produced Grimes’ popular 2011 TV ad that featured her grandmothers, will handle media, the magazine reported. Andrew Kennedy of Kennedy Communications will serve as a senior advisor, and Hurst will serve as a spokesman.
Three Democrats with no statewide following are running against Grimes for the party’s nomination: Owensboro contractor Ed Marksberry; Louisville musician and music promoter Bennie J. Smith; and University of Louisville communications professor Greg Leichty.
McConnell does not yet have an opponent in next May’s Republican primary election.