HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — Former state Democratic Party Chairman Bill Garmer, who is considering a possible bid for the U.S. Senate next year if Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes does not run, will not appear on Monday night’s “Kentucky Tonight” program on the Kentucky Educational Television show.
The show is to discuss the 2014 elections in Kentucky and was scheduled last week to feature Garmer as a panelist. Louisville Metro Councilman David Tandy, former treasurer for the state Democratic Party, will take his place, KET said Monday. Other scheduled panelists with host Bill Goodman are state Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson, former GOP Chair Ellen Williams and former Democratic Party Chair Jonathan Miller.
Garmer, a Lexington attorney, said last Friday that he might run for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell if Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes does not make the race. Grimes has not yet said whether she will enter the contest.
Garmer could not be reached for comment Monday about the KET show but a person answering the phone at his Lexington office said he had a prior engagement.
Goodman, host of the show, said he got a telpehone message late Friday from Garmer saying he would not be able to make the show with no explanation why.
Asked if anyone had objected to Garmer’s scheduled appearance on the show, Goodman said Kelsey Cooper, a spokeswoman for the state GOP, had called to make him aware of Garmer’s interests in the Senate race and “express concerns.”
State GOP Chair Roberston said there was “no formal objection on our part” about Garmer’s scheduled appearance on KET but noted that the party had some concerns about it “since he is a potential candidate.”
The show is to be broadcast live at 8 p.m. on KET.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Bill Garmer said Friday he is considering running for the U.S. Senate next year if Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes declines to enter the race against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.
“A lot of people have talked to me about the race,” said Garmer, a Lexington lawyer, in a telephone interview. “But Alison is the center of discussion. In my mind, if she wants the nomination, she has my support. She is one of the bright stars in the Democratic party and she wants to serve Kentucky. I would be the first in line to support her.”
Asked if he would consider running if Grimes decides not to run, Garmer said, “that sounds like a lawyer’s question but that would be fair.”
Grimes said April 23 that she is pondering whether to run for the U.S. Senate next year against McConnell. She said she would “take the time to reflect with my family, my supporters on how I can best continue to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
PIKEVILLE — The federal government would face a deadline to issue or deny surface-mining permits under legislation Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he will file next week.
McConnell said Monday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has failed to act on dozens of proposed permits for surface mines in Eastern Kentucky, holding up some for years as coal jobs in the region plummet.
Repeating a familiar theme as he ramps up for a re-election campaign in 2014, McConnell said the EPA’s inaction is part of the Obama Administration’s attack on the coal industry.
“The war on coal waged by this administration is costing Kentucky our jobs, our livelihoods and indeed, our future,” McConnell told a receptive audience gathered in a cavernous repair bay at Whayne Supply Company in Pikeville.
McConnell acknowledged in a later speech to the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Pikeville that it will be hard to get the proposed legislation through the Democrat-led U.S. Senate, but said he is trying to bring attention to the problem. He said Kentucky’s junior senator, Republican Rand Paul of Bowling Green, will co-sponsor the legislation.
FRANKFORT — A new, independent super PAC is being formed to help U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in his re-election bid next year.
Kentuckians for Strong Leadership announced Tuesday in an email that it is filing incorporation papers with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.
“President Obama and his liberal allies know they can’t achieve the rest of their big government agenda unless they take out Senator Mitch McConnell, and we will raise and spend whatever it takes to prevent that from happening,” said Scott Jennings, the PAC’s senior advisor in a statement.
He added: “We expect to set new records for independent political action to ensure that McConnell can keep fighting for Kentucky jobs and our way of life.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — After a busy legislative session and a business trip to Taiwan, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is pondering whether to run for the U.S. Senate next year against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.
Grimes, a Democrat, said Tuesday she is “now going to take the time to reflect with my family, my supporters on how I can best continue to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
Grimes did not set a timetable for making a decision, saying only that she will “give it the due diligence it deserves.”
Political observers differ on how quickly Grimes should decide.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell depicts himself as a victim of “dirty” attacks by liberals and President Barack Obama’s “No. 1 target” in a TV ad that begins airing Friday.
McConnell’s campaign said it has spent more than $100,000 to air the ad statewide on cable and broadcast stations. It is the Republican candidate’s second TV ad even though the election is more than a year away and no major candidate has announced to run against him.
The 30-second ad, titled “How Dirty?”, features a female narrator who says, “Mitch McConnell is Obama’s number one target because Mitch protects Kentucky from Obama’s bad ideas. Liberals will do anything to beat McConnell.”
Obama, a Democrat, remains unpopular in Kentucky. Early in the president’s first term, McConnell said his “single most important goal” as Republican Senate leader was to make Obama a one-term president. Obama was re-elected last year.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell asked the FBI Tuesday to investigate a secret recording of a private meeting in which he and his campaign aides discussed Ashley Judd’s mental health and religious beliefs as possible points of political attack.
In public statements, McConnell accused “the left” of using “Nixonian tactics” to bug his campaign headquarters in Louisville.
“Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Sen. McConnell’s office without consent,” said Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager. “By whom and how that was accomplished presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation.”
The FBI acknowledged the request from McConnell’s campaign but did not elaborate.
The liberal-leaning publication Mother Jones released the recording Tuesday, saying it was obtained last week from a source who requested anonymity.
Judd, a Democratic actress and activist, had considered running against McConnell next year but decided last month not to challenge the Senate Republican leader.
“This is yet another example of the politics of personal destruction that embody Mitch McConnell and are pervasive in Washington D.C.,” said Cara Tripicchio, a Judd spokeswoman, in a statement. “We expected nothing less from Mitch McConnell and his camp than to take a personal struggle such as depression, which many Americans cope with on a daily basis, and turn it into a laughing matter.”
By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday he has spoken with actress Ashley Judd about her potentially challenging U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014, but he declined to give details of the conversation.
“I’m convinced that she is seriously considering a race for the United States Senate in the Democratic primary,” Beshear said. “I think she can be an effective and formidable candidate.”
Besher said the conversation took place last week but said he could not remember on what day. He said other Democratic candidates may be considering a run against the long-time Republican senator from Louisville but declined to name them. Beshear’s comments came at a news conference Tuesday in the state Capitol on an unrelated topic.
Beshear is among several Democratic officials Judd has contacted in recent weeks. She also has spoken with Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, and has tried to contact House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.
By Linda B. Blackford
FRANKKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear said Thursday that he has spoken with actress Ashley Judd and plans to talk more with her about next year’s U.S. Senate race.
“She’s been trying to arrange and will be arranging some more conversations here in the next month or so,” Beshear told reporters after a bill signing.
Beshear said he spoke with Judd at the Bluegrass Ball in Washington D.C. in January. He declined to say if he would endorse her entry into the race against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.
“There are a number of people who are still talking about running for the U.S. Senate and I think she would be a very serious candidate, there may be others who would also… but I’m going to encourage as many as possible to take a look at it and we can come up with the best candidate,” Beshear said.
Various media outlets have reported that Judd met this week with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee about a possible run.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign released its first video ad Tuesday, a parody highlighting the difficulty Democrats are having trying to recruit a viable candidate to run against him.
The video is on the newly-launched website www.obamaskentuckycandidate.com. The Republican campaign says it plans to use the website to track Democrats’ recruiting process.
The nearly three-minute video features clips of Democratic President Barack Obama that have been edited to make it appear he is searching for a candidate to run against McConnell.
Prospects identified include actress Ashley Judd, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, former U.S. ambassador to Sweden Matthew Barzun and Ed Marksberry of Owensboro, who already has said he will run. The video also features clips of Gov. Steve Beshear, Attorney General Jack Conway, former Auditor Crit Luallen, Auditor Adam Edelen, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, and Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, all of whom have said they’re not interested in challenging McConnell.
“We all know President Obama and his liberal allies have made Senator McConnell their number one target,” Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “We thought we would have a little fun with the problems they’ve had finding someone to carry President Obama’s banner in Kentucky.”
The YouTube video was released to McConnell supporters in an email Tuesday morning and posted on Team Mitch’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Daniel Logsdon said the video shows that McConnell doesn’t want to talk about his long voting record in Washington.
“The only thing he can do is make fun of serious people who are trying to help Kentuckians,” Logsdon said. “He can’t point to any accomplishments.”
Logsdon said the Democratic Party “will have a strong challenger for him in 2014.”
Asked who that might be, he said “that process is in the works.”
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Tuesday that Judd should contact Gov. Steve Beshear about the race.
“When we discussed this with the governor last week, he indicated that he’s not had that contact yet,” Stumbo said.
He said he hoped Judd would also talk to other Democratic leaders in Kentucky.
“I think there are some things that we could suggest to her that may help her as she formulated her campaign,” Stumbo said.
Meanwhile, Nicholasville Tea Party activist David Adams said Louisville businessman Matt Bevin is looking at the Republican primary for U.S. Senate as a Tea Party candidate.
Adams said the Tea Party in the state “may have multiple candidates to run against McConnell.”
Bevin said in a statement that he has made no final decision about the race. He said he has met with “various individuals and groups who have expressed their frustration with their current representation in Washington and have encouraged him to consider entering the race.”