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The question Alison Lundergan Grimes refuses to answer

McConnellGrimesBy Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has refused seven times in the past seven days to say whether or not she voted for President Barack Obama for president.

Grimes was asked three times by a Herald-Leader reporter after an event on Oct. 2 if she voted for Obama, ignoring the question and turning her back on the reporter asking it.

On Thursday, Grimes refused four times to tell The Courier-Journal’s editorial board if she voted for Obama.

“You know, this election, it isn’t about the president,” Grimes said when first asked if she voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

After being asked the third time, Grimes responded: “I was actually a delegate for Hillary Clinton, and I think that Kentuckians know I’m a Clinton Democrat through and through. I respect the sanctity of the ballot box, and I know that the members of this editorial board do as well.”

At that point, a member of the newspaper’s editorial board said: “So you’re not going to answer?”

GOP state House candidate in Jefferson County withdraws from race

FRANKFORT — In their efforts to take over the state House this year, Republicans have lost a candidate.

Mark Wilson of Louisville has withdrawn from the race against Democratic incumbent Jeffery Donahue of Fairdale in the 37th House District in south-central Jefferson County.

Wilson could not be reached for comment but Jefferson County GOP Chairman Nathan Haney said Thursday that Wilson expected to come off military active duty at the end of this year but recently learned that he would not.

“The military had other orders for him that would prohibit him from being in the legislature,” Haney said.

Donahue joined the House last year.

Reublicans hope to gain control of the state House for the first time since 1921 at the Nov. 4 polls. Democrats now control the chamber with 54 members, compared to 46 for Republicans.

–Jack Brammer

Conway’s campaign for govenor rakes in about $400,000 for quarter

Attorney General Jack Conway, who is seeking re-election, touted his record at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. Photo by Pablo Alcala

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s campaign for governor raised $397,539 in the last three months, bringing his total fundraising to about $1.15 million since entering the Democratic primary earlier this year.

Conway’s campaign also reported late Monday that it had about $1 million on hand.

“Great results for two straight reporting periods show the strength of our campaign and that we are uniting Democrats behind our ticket for the 2015 governor’s race,” Conway said in a statement.

Conway said he and his running, state Rep. Sannie Overly of Paris, “remain focused on the Kentucky House races and Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign for U.S. Senate” this fall.

He added: “Sannie and I will begin the process of building out our campaign after the November elections.”

Conway’s campaign noted that Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, as an incumbent in 2009, raised a little more than $1 million during his first two reporting periods and had $784,054 on hand.

National GOP group gets involved in KY House races

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – A national group focused on electing Republican state legislators has started sending out hard-hitting mailers to help the GOP try to gain control of the Kentucky House for the first time since 1921.

Jill Bader, communications director for the Republican State Leadership Committee, said in an email Monday that the group has “consistently named the Kentucky House as top of our targets for a pick up this year.”

Republicans now control 60 of 99 legislative chambers in the country, including the Kentucky Senate.

Bader also said the RSLC, based in Washington, D.C., has begun “a significant six-figure multi-platform independent expenditure, starting with mail, that began this weekend in support of gaining the House majority” in Kentucky.

Democrats now control the Kentucky House with 54 members, compared to 46 for Republicans.

The RSLC has spent more than $1 million on legislative races in Kentucky since 2008. It spent more than $400,000 in Kentucky during the 2010 election cycle and more than $355,000 in 2012. The group spent more than $200,000 in Kentucky last year and expects to top its previous spending record this year.

The first two mail pieces from the RSLC in Kentucky House races this fall involve two tough races in Western Kentucky.

Beshears and Abramsons urge Kentuckians to donate used cell phones to fight domestic violence

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear is suggesting that Kentuckians curb domestic violence by donating their used cell phones and accessories.

Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson and his wife, Madeline Abramson, kicked off a monthlong drive Wednesday to collect the old phones.

Verizon Wireless has agreed to turn the devices into a cash grant for WorkSafe, a collobarative program of the Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Commission on Women and The Mary Bryon Project, to provide domestic violence prevention training for businesses.

WorkSafe will distribute restored phones to domestic violence clients and give each up to 3,000 free minutes of usage.

At news conferences in Lexington, Frankfort and Louisville, the Beshears and Abramsons said the drive will run Oct. 1 through Oct. 31.

Special collection boxes marked HopeLine will be available at 18 state agencies throughout the state, at University of Kentucky sororities and Verizon stores. Phones from any provider will be accepted.

So far this year, Verizon has given grants of more than $108,000 for domestic violence prevention in Kentucky.

Fact-checkers find fault with several claims made in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race

McConnellGrimesFact-checkers at The Washington Post and PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times, have been busy researching the claims made by Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidates (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes) and their surrogates during the first 17 days of September. Here’s what they found.

Immigration:

A television ad aired by the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which the Washington Post described as “an independent group with connections to Republican strategist Karl Rove,” earned three Pinocchios (the equivalent of mostly false) from Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler on Sept. 17. The ad claimed Grimes is a “proud supporter of Obama’s amnesty plan.” But Kessler says this:

Grimes certainly supports a bill that would prove a pathway to citizenship for undocumented aliens, as does Obama. Whether this is “amnesty” is in the eye of the beholder. But this was not a bill crafted by either Obama or Grimes, but a coalition of Republicans and Democrats–an unusual example of bipartisan cooperation in this period of intense partisanship.

Moreover, the bill that emerged from the Senate set tough rules for that pathway — including denying access to virtually all federal means-tested benefits. In doing so, the bill largely met criteria set by donors and supporters of the very organization that is now blasting Grimes on this issue. It is bizarre and hypocritical for this group to now falsely attack Grimes for supporting a middle ground approach that its supporters once championed.

Free trade:

A spot aired by Senate Majority PAC, which the Washing Post said is “affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.,” also earned three Pinocchios from Kessler on Sept. 9. The ad claims that “Mitch McConnell has been tragically wrong about foreign trade deals. They have cost Americans over half a million jobs. Kentucky is still losing jobs, and McConnell is still voting to give companies tax deductions for outsourcing. Mitch said it is not his job to create jobs. The least he could do is stop sending them away.” But Kessler says this:

The under-the-radar nature of this ad suggests that Senate Majority PAC hoped to slip this political stiletto past the media and the fact checkers — or that the organization is somehow embarrassed by its own message. But the fact remains that NAFTA was championed by both Democrats and Republicans, and objective studies have found its overall impact to be modest. Kentucky has both gained and lost jobs because of globalization — and there is no evidence McConnell is trying to “send them away.”

McConnell’s voting record:

An ad by the Grimes campaign that makes several claims about McConnell’s voting record and personal wealth also got three Pinocchios from the Post on Sept. 5. Here’s what Kessler concluded:

This ad, on balance, just narrowly avoids getting Four Pinocchios. While it is correct that McConnell has often voted against boosting the minimum wage, for philosophical reasons, most of the other claims is the ad are false, misleading or lacking important context.

Corporate tax breaks for outsourcing:

On Sept. 12, PolitFact gave a “mostly false” ruling to a claim in the same Grimes ad that McConnell voted “three times for corporate tax breaks that send Kentucky jobs overseas.” PolitiFact concluded:

The ad makes it seem like McConnell voted to approve corporate tax breaks that incentivize outsourcing. Actually, he voted “no” on legislation that would have eliminated the standard business expense deductions — which exist for all businesses — for costs associated with outsourcing. (Current law includes no provision that specifically addresses insourcing or outsourcing.) These bills had little chance of passing, and they were largely symbolic.

Oct. 6 is deadline to register to vote in fall elections

Alison Lundergan Grimes

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — Oct. 6 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general election, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes reminded eligible Kentuckians Monday.

County clerks’ offices throughout Kentucky will accept voter registration cards until the close of business on that date, she said in a statement. Mail-in voter registration applications must be postmarked by Oct. 6.

Under the Military Heroes Voting Initiative, new legislation proposed by Grimes, qualified military and overseas voters may now register to vote and update their registration information electronically through the State Board of Elections’ new Federal Post Card Application Wizard.

The application, along with other resources for military and overseas voters, is available at www.elect.ky.gov. Applications submitted electronically must be received by the county clerk by close of business on Oct. 6.

“Military voters often move from place to place, which can make it hard for them to maintain accurate voter registration records,” said Grimes. “I’m excited that, for the first time in Kentucky, they can complete essential voter registration functions electronically. This initiative provides them valuable tools that will help ensure they have a meaningful opportunity to participate in elections back home.”

To be eligible to vote, you must meet the following criteria: be a U.S. citizen; be a Kentucky resident for at least 28 days before Election day; be at least 18 years old by the date of the next general election; not be a convicted felon, or if convicted of a felony offense, must have obtained a restoration of civil rights; not have been adjudged “mentally incompetent;” and not claim the right to vote anywhere outside Kentucky.

Voters who have recently moved need to update their voter registration information no later than Oct. 6.

Persons who move from one county to another county while the voter registration books are open and fail to update their registration information before the voter registration books close are not permitted to vote in the election.

Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can register and update their registration while keeping their names and addresses out of publicly available voter records.

“The future of Kentucky and our nation depend on all eligible voters participating in the process,” said Grimes. “Registering to vote is the first step in being a part of the 2014 elections, and I hope that as many Kentuckians as are able will make their voices heard.”

You can check your current registration status on the Voter Information Center, https://cdcbp.ky.gov/VICWeb/index.jsp.

To obtain a registration card or for more information about registering to vote, visit www.elect.ky.gov or contact your county clerk or the State Board of Elections at (502) 573-7100.

AFL-CIO brings ‘Koch Sisters’ to Lexington airwaves for minimum wage push

McConnellGrimesBy Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

As U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell returns to Washington after the August recess, a union working overtime to deny
McConnell a sixth term is trying to bring some heat to him back home in Kentucky.

The AFL-CIO will unveil a new ad, part of its “Koch sisters” campaign, in the Lexington market beginning Monday just as McConnell and the rest of the Senate return for an abbreviated session in which Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to introduce a measure that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Though a spate of recent polls suggest that McConnell has established a small but steady lead over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, they also show overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage, a central tenet of Grimes’ campaign.

McConnell’s troubles with the issue were exacerbated when a secret recording emerged recently of the senator telling a gathering of wealthy donors hosted by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch that if he becomes majority leader, the Senate won’t debate “gosh darn proposals” like raising the wage.

Portraying Republicans as beholden to wealthy special interests and donors, specifically the Koch brothers, has been a key part of Democratic efforts to retain the U.S. Senate this year.

The new ad is the second in a series called “Koch sisters,” the first of which was unveiled last weekend by the union. They feature Karen and Joyce, two women “who share the same last name, but not the same values as the Koch Brothers,” the group said when it first announced them.

“The Koch Sisters will bring the issues most Americans care about – from fair wages to protecting Social Security – to the forefront of the political debate,” an AFL-CIO release said.

In the latest ad, called “Almost Evil” and timed to coincide with Reid’s introduction of a minimum wage proposal, the two women blame Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage on the Koch brothers.

“I think it’s deplorable that the Koch brothers would want to take away minimum wage,” Joyce Koch says in the ad, provided to the Herald-Leader Sunday.

She adds in the end: “That’s a misuse of wealth and power and I really think it’s almost evil.”

To support its claim that the Koch brothers want to eliminate the minimum wage, the AFL-CIO cites a July 2013 article from The Whichita Eagle, in which Charles Koch said he wants to help the disadvantaged by eliminating a “culture of dependency.”

“We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country, rather than saying ‘Oh, we’re just fine now.’ We’re not saying that at all,” Charles Koch said. “What we’re saying is, we need to analyze all these additional policies, these subsidies, this cronyism, this avalanche of regulations, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency. And like permitting, to start a business, in many cities, to drive a taxicab, to become a hairdresser. Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.”

The most recent Bluegrass Poll found that registered voters in Kentucky favor raising the minimum wage by an 18-point margin, 55 percent to 37 percent.

Under fire from the Grimes campaign for his recorded remarks at the Koch brothers’ retreat, McConnell said last week that raising the wage would be a “job killer,” citing a Congressional Budget Office report that estimated raising the wage could cost as many as 500,000 jobs.

“This is the exact wrong thing to do when you are having such slow growth,” McConnell said, according to WHAS-TV in Louisville. “There are circumstances under which you have a better economy that raising the minimum wage might make sense.”

Grimes and other Democrats have argued that raising the minimum wage is necessary to make it a “living wage,” pointing to examples of people struggling to make ends meet despite working full-time at $7.25 an hour, the current minimum wage.

Poll shows McConnell opening up clear lead over Grimes in Kentucky

McConnellGrimesBy Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

A new poll released Sunday morning shows U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opening up a clear lead over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.

An NBC News/Marist poll shows McConnell’s strongest positioning yet. His 8-point lead among likely voters, 47 percent to 39 percent, is outside the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. Libertarian candidate David Patterson pulled 8 percent.

Chuck Todd, moderating his first episode of “Meet the Press” on Sunday, noted the success Grimes has had fundraising when he announced
the new numbers.

“In red-state Kentucky, Alison Grimes, a Democrat, tons of money, she’s behind eight,” Todd said. “Not looking very good for her.”

McConnell’s advantage is up significantly from the deadlocked race the same poll found in May when McConnell and Grimes were essentially tied with McConnell nominally leading 46 percent to 45 percent among registered voters.

The most recent poll was conducted between Sept. 2-4, indicating that recent stumbles like the resignation of his campaign manager and the
release of a secret recording of McConnell speaking to a Koch brothers retreat have not yet had a detrimental effect on the senator’s re-election efforts.

There also is evidence to suggest that Grimes’ national party identification, combined with a relentless effort by McConnell and his
allies to tie Grimes to President Barack Obama, has taken its toll on the Democratic challenger.

The poll found that Obama’s approval rating in Kentucky is a woeful 31 percent.

Meanwhile, an online poll released by CBS News/New York Times/YouGov shows McConnell leading Grimes 47 percent to 42 percent.

Two other polls released in the last week also show McConnell with a small lead. A Bluegrass Poll showed McConnell leading Grimes, who is Kentucky’s secretary of state, 46 percent to 42 percent.

A CNN/ORC poll showed McConnell leading Grimes 50 percent to 46 percent.

The RealClearPolitics average of polls now shows McConnell with a +5.2 percentage point advantage.

Jesse Benton’s full statement regarding his resignation from McConnell campaign

BentonMcConnellHere is Jesse Benton’s full statement to the Herald-Leader regarding his resignation as campaign manager for U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

There is no more important cause for both Kentucky, my new home I have come to love, and our country than electing Mitch McConnell Majority Leader of the United States Senate. I believe this deep in my bones, and I would never allow anything or anyone to get in the way.

That includes myself.

Recently, there have been inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors about me and my role in past campaigns that are politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue. I hope those who know me recognize that I strive to be a man of integrity.

The press accounts and rumors are particularly hurtful because they are false.

However, what is most troubling to me is that they risk unfairly undermining and becoming a distraction to this reelection campaign.

Working for Mitch McConnell is one of the great honors of my life. He is a friend, a mentor and a great man this commonwealth desperately needs. I cannot, and will not, allow any possibility that my circumstances will effect the voters’ ability to hear his message and assess his record. This election is far too important and the stakes way too high.

With a heavy heart, I offered Sen. McConnell my resignation this afternoon and he reluctantly accepted. Effective Saturday, August 30th, I will no longer be the “Team Mitch” campaign manager.

The good news is that most of my work has been done. We have built a top flight team of incredible people that are working tirelessly to ensure Mitch’s re-election. They are a finely oiled machine and will not skip a beat without me.

This decision breaks my heart, but I know it is the right thing for Mitch, for Kentucky and for the country.

James 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”