Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes needs to “do some serious soul searching” after she didn’t speak out about Democratic senators conducting an all-night “talk-athon” on climate change.
McConnell seized on the Democrats’ discussion of climate change and a news report suggesting that someone associated with Grimes’ campaign had secretly told an environmentalist that Grimes would be “more forthright” about her stances on environmental issues after the election.
“It is one of the primary responsibilities of a U.S. Senator to speak out when fellow lawmakers are actively working against your constituents’ best interests,” McConnell said in a statement. “It is very disappointing that Alison Lundergan Grimes could not muster a word against her liberal allies in Washington who were pulling an all-nighter to shut down the coal industry and left open the possibility that she would join them.”
In a campaign that has thus far been fought largely by press secretaries from the two camps, McConnell’s statement indicates that he sees an opportunity to damage Grimes on the issue.
Monday night’s theatrics in Washington coincided with a report from WFPL, a public radio station in Louisville, that someone from the Grimes campaign had told Louisville environmentalist Sarah Lynn Cunningham that Grimes would be more open about her environmental beliefs after the election.
FRANKFORT — State Sen. Gerald Neal said Wednesday that the firing of a Legislative Research Committee staffer for appearing in a campaign video released by Alison Lundergan Grimes was a violation of the staffer’s First Amendment rights.
Charles Booker was fired earlier this week after appearing in a web campaign video with his wife in support of Grimes, the likely Democratic U.S. Senate nominee. LRC employees are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activities.
Neal, D-Louisville, spoke angrily on the Senate floor in defense of Booker, calling his firing “intolerable” and saying that if the state Senate doesn’t intervene then “shame on you.”
“He’s a casualty, collateral damage in the process of politics,” Neal said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will begin running a new television ad in Kentucky starting Wednesday that describes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as someone who is fighting against “Obamacare” and for Kentucky’s future.
The ad features several pictures of women and families and is narrated by two female voices, both of which warn against President Barack Obama’s health care law and portray McConnell as waging war against the law on behalf of Kentuckians.
“Most of us don’t get caught up in politics,” the women say, trading off lines. “Between kids, bills, work there’s just no time for it. But this Obamacare mess is scary.”
The Chamber of Commerce would not say how much money it is putting behind the ad, calling it “significant.”
This is the second ad the Chamber of Commerce has run in Kentucky on McConnell’s behalf.
The first, which ran last December, focused on coal.
A Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll released earlier this month showed likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes with a slim 4-point advantage over McConnell, but her lead among women voters was 12 points.
It’s tough to be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell these days.
One day he’s praised for helping “save” more than 2,000 jobs in the Lexington area. A week later, he’s down by 4 points in a poll looking at his re-election prospects.
The Bluegrass Poll, which came out last week and shows McConnell trailing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes 46 percent to 42 percent, revealed a number of trends that will shape the 2014 U.S. Senate race.
But McConnell’s negative job-approval and favorability ratings tell the story of the race so far.
The numbers show that McConnell is well-known, but not particularly well-liked. (Sixty percent of registered voters disapprove of his job performance and 50 percent have an unfavorable view of him.)
He now has the hard, if not impossible, task of reintroducing himself to voters who have known him for 30 years. It hurts the senator exponentially if the negative feelings voters have about him override any good news that McConnell can generate.
The Jan. 31 event at Bluegrass Station, a military industrial park, is the perfect example.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has stepped up his blistering criticism of Bill Clinton, saying Democrats who take money from the former president should either return it or not “take a position on women’s rights.”
Paul’s comments, set to air Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” come as likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Friday that Clinton will campaign in Kentucky on her behalf later this month.
Paul, in the C-SPAN interview, said Democrats “can’t have it both ways.”
“The Democrats can’t say ‘Oh we’re the great defenders of women’s rights in the workplace, and we will defend you against some kind of abusive boss that uses their position of authority to take advantage of a young woman’ when the leader of their party, the leading fundraiser in the country, is Bill Clinton, who was a perpetrator of that kind of sexual harassment,” Paul said.
Grimes, who has made the Republican “war on women” central to her campaign so far, said Friday that Clinton will campaign with her in Louisville on Feb. 25. She said Clinton has indicated he wants to make the Kentucky Senate race his top priority this year.
Despite raising more than $2 million during a fundraising quarter filled with holidays, likely Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes continues to face a significant cash disadvantage against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Both campaigns released their fundraising totals for the fourth quarter of 2013 Friday, with McConnell reporting $2.2 million for his re-election efforts and Grimes reporting $2.1 million.
McConnell’s latest numbers bring his total for the election cycle to $20 million, with $10.9 million in the bank, his campaign reported Friday.
Grimes has raised about $4.6 million since entering the race July 1 and has about $3.5 million in cash on hand, according to her campaign.
“Sen. McConnell, unlike his challengers, made the decision to cancel fundraising efforts during the government shutdown and was still able to bring in over $2 million this quarter, which further illustrates the enthusiastic support he is gaining every day from people across America who appreciate his conservative leadership and willingness to fight on their behalf,” Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, said in a statement.
McConnell raised about the same amount in the third quarter, when he was bested by Grimes, who pulled in about $2.5 million during her first three months in the race.
“Despite the McConnell campaign burning through nearly every dollar raised in 2013′s third fundraising quarter, our campaign has built a war chest of almost $3.5 million that will allow us to have the resources to win this race,” the Grimes campaign said Friday in a news release.
McConnell’s burn rate slowed considerably in the fourth quarter though, and his nearly $11 million in cash on hand makes for a significant fundraising advantage over Grimes heading into the new year.
Still, Grimes’ fundraising total for the fourth quarter is larger than any other Democratic challenger in the nation, reflecting national Democrats’ desire to take down McConnell.
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., raised $2.1 million; North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan reported raising $2 million; and Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for Georgia’s open Senate seat, reported raising $1.6 million.
Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell in the Republican primary, has previously said he raised about $900,000 in the fourth quarter. He raised only $220,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30 but tossed in $600,000 of his own money to kick-start his campaign.
The Republican Party of Kentucky reported Friday to the Federal Election Commission that it has $1.37 million in cash on hand.
“We are extraordinarily pleased to report that the Republican Party of Kentucky heads into an important election year with such robust fundraising numbers, including more than $1.3 million cash on hand in our federal account,” GOP chairman Steve Robertson said in a statement.
The Kentucky Democratic Party hasn’t yet announced its latest financial numbers.
A new poll from a liberal-leaning group shows Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race remains deadlocked, but the news isn’t all bad for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling group for the liberal group Americans United for Change found little change in a head-to-head match-up between McConnell and likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes, with McConnell leading 45 percent to 44 percent.
The same company polled Kentucky in late December and found McConnell leading Grimes 43 percent to 42 percent. The margin of error in the most recent poll was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Of 882 Kentuckians polled from Jan. 24-26, 52 percent said they were Democrats, 36 percent said they were Republicans and 12 percent identified themselves as independents or other.
The good news for McConnell is that, according to PPP, his approval rating has improved since the last poll, though it remains weak.
The December poll put the senator’s approval rating at 31 percent while the most recent poll saw McConnell clock in at 37 percent.
Even better news for McConnell, who is facing a primary against Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, is that 60 percent of Republicans surveyed approve of the job he is doing.
The survey also shows that McConnell has more support among Republicans than Grimes has with Democrats.
When survey respondents chose between McConnell and Grimes, 74 percent of Republicans supported McConnell while 67 percent of Democrats supported Grimes.
The good news for Grimes is on the issues.
Grimes has staked out a position in favor of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, an issue President Barack Obama pushed in Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech and one a majority of Kentuckians favor.
The PPP poll found that 57 percent of Kentuckians approve of raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and 42 percent said they would be less likely to vote for McConnell if he voted against such a hike.
Click here to see the full poll results.
For some federal candidates in pro-coal Kentucky, the “D” behind their names is an inconvenient truth.
In an interview Friday with the Herald-Leader, likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes demonstrated just how tough that truth can be as she continued her defense of coal in striking contrast with her national party.
Grimes has not blinked in her support of coal since getting in the race last summer. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allied super PACs are hammering away, seeing a tie between Grimes and perceived coal enemies like President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as a key to victory.
McConnell rarely fails to mention Obama’s “war on coal.” Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a super PAC aligned with the senator, has spent $150,000 on radio ads, half of that during the past week, calling Grimes a “dishonest liberal” who takes money from anti-coal Democrats.
That’s where the incon venient truth comes into play. Grimes does raise money with Democrats like California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who called coal a “fuel from hell.”
She doesn’t really have a choice.
Alison Lundergan Grimes, the likely Democratic nominee in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, declined Friday to condemn Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s comparison of the election to the liberation of Europe from Nazi control in World War II.
In a brief interview with the Herald-Leader, Grimes said she did not want to speak for Stumbo, who said Grimes’ announcement that she was entering the race “reminded me of the feeling that our troops must have had when they liberated the European nations following World War II.”
Stumbo, who introduced Grimes as she rolled out her jobs plan Thursday night in Prestonsburg, was describing the scene when Grimes announced her candidacy in Lexington last summer.
“Can you imagine what it felt like to know that you were liberating a country?” Stumbo told the crowd in his hometown of Prestonsburg. “Well you are about to liberate your state. You are about to liberate your state, from the worst reign of misabuse that we’ve seen in the last thirty years. You are about to give us hope.”
Shortly after Stumbo made his remarks, the Republican Party of Kentucky issued a statement blasting Stumbo for “comparing Sen. McConnell to the Nazis.” The party called the remarks “appalling” and “completely inappropriate.”
Grimes, who sat down for the interview after giving luncheon remarks to the Women Mean Business Conference in Lexington, declined to parse Stumbo’s meaning.
Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, the Super PAC allied with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is releasing a radio ad assailing likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes as “a dishonest liberal, bad for coal and Kentucky.”
The group said it is spending $85,000 on the radio ad, which will start running Friday, as it looks to undercut an event Grimes is holding in Prestonsburg Thursday evening. The Grimes campaign said she will “share her vision for Eastern Kentucky” during a 6 p.m. event at the Mountain Arts Center.
The radio ad, which continues a theme from an earlier pitch from the same group, features President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and asks what Grimes is “promising them behind closed doors.”
“Why are anti-coal liberals giving her campaign big bucks?” the narrator asks. “We can only guess, because Grimes dodges questions on issues when she’s here in Kentucky.”
The ad keys in on a fundraiser for Grimes last year in San Francisco with former mayor Gavin Newsom, who once called coal a “fuel from hell.”
“While Kentucky suffers from Obama’s War on Coal, Alison Grimes has been on a Gold Rush in San Francisco,” the ad says. “Raising big bucks with the most anti-coal politicians and activists in America.”
At one point, the ad accuses Obama of trying to bankrupt the coal industry and says Grimes “supports” that effort. However, Grimes has attempted to move to the right of McConnell on coal issues, laying the blame for dramatic job losses in Eastern Kentucky at McConnell’s feet and assailing Obama for “reckless regulations” that she said are killing coal.
But Grimes has so far declined to discuss in detail her thoughts on global warming, how much of a contributing factor coal might be to that issue and how she reconciles her positions with the environmentalist base of the Democratic Party.