As the “Give America a Raise” bus tour swung through Lexington Monday afternoon, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes joined other speakers in calling to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
About 50 people braved the rainy day to join Grimes, labor and faith leaders in Thoroughbred Park to push for an increase in the wage, which the U.S. Senate is expected to consider this week.
Grimes told the crowd she was “honored to have led on this issue not just in the commonwealth, but indeed, the nation.”
“That is how we grow the middle class of Kentucky,” Grimes said. “This is how we grow the middle class of this nation.”
Grimes also blamed McConnell for Kentucky’s economic woes, blasting the Republican on issues ranging from currency manipulation to free trade agreements.
Nationally, Democrats have made raising the minimum wage central to their efforts to prevent Republicans from gaining seats in the Senate and House of Representatives, and Grimes has followed that playbook to the letter.
While President Barack Obama suffers from low second-term approval numbers that could cast a pall over Democratic candidates across the nation, polls consistently show a groundswell of support for raising the minimum wage.
The most recent Bluegrass Poll, released in February, showed that Kentuckians favor raising the wage 61 percent to 32 percent.
McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said Monday that Grimes “and the Obama-liberals promise a world full of prosperity, but the reality of their policies is fewer jobs and less opportunity for our most vulnerable.”
“While Alison advocates hiking the minimum wage to benefit herself politically, her plan would actually cost Kentucky about 17,000 jobs,” Moore said, referring to a report from Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee released in February.
Organizers of the event included in their announcement email a link to studies that reinforce their argument that “the most rigorous research shows little evidence of job reductions from a higher minimum wage.”
Americans United for Change sponsored the bus tour through 20 states. Grimes joined the bus earlier this year when it made a stop in Louisville.
Monday’s event was designed to target McConnell and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, ahead of this week’s action in Washington.
“Businesses need customers to survive, so why won’t Sen. McConnell and Congressman Barr help create more of them by raising the minimum wage and putting more money in the pockets of 30 million consumers,” said Brad Woodhouse, spokesman for Americans United for Change.