By Jack Brammer
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation Tuesday to support making Mill Springs Battlefield in Southern Kentucky part of the National Park System.
McConnell’s legislation directs the U.S. Secretary of Interior to evaluate including the Civil War battlefield as a national park. Such a feasibility study makes a final national park designation easier to achieve.
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, successfully introduced and backed identical legislation earlier this year in the U.S. House.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
Centre College has hosted two vice presidential debates this century but could not get the U.S. Senate campaigns of Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes to agree over details for a debate between them this year on the Danville campus.
Centre College President John A. Roush said there did not appear any willingness by any campaign to come to an agreement.
Centre College’s website announced Monday that the liberal arts college has canceled efforts for a U.S. Senate debate on Sept. 3.
The decision came after weeks of planning and several conversations with the two candidates’ campaign officials following a July 17 announcement by AARP, WAVE3 News in Louisville and Centre proposing a debate on the same stage as the 2000 and 2012 vice presidential debates.
Centre originally requested that the candidates respond to the invitation by Aug.1, but college officials discussed and met with campaign representatives after that date in an effort to come to agreement over details regarding format and structure.
“My disappointment runs deep for the citizens of Kentucky, who deserve to make an informed decision on election day,” said Centre President Roush. “We had every indication early on that agreement could be reached, but as time wore on, compromise on the part of both campaigns simply didn’t occur.”
“Campaigns have differences and the stakes in any race are high,” Roush said. “However, at the end of the day, I am more inclined to believe that there was really no willingness on the part of either campaign to come to agreement.”
The final attempt to receive a “yes” or “no” took the form of an open letter by Roush on Aug. 20 to “Fellow Kentuckians,” asking for support via social media.
In his letter, Roush expressed an interest in putting “in place a format for a civilized, meaningful discussion between the candidates to learn more about them and their aspirations for serving the Commonwealth and to get past the carefully rehearsed, contrived, and sometimes mean-spirited advertising that increasingly characterizes political campaigns these days.”
While this did prompt a few last-minute conversations over the weekend with campaign officials, none were substantive enough to prevent cancellation, Roush said.
The two candidates appeared on the same stage earlier this month at the Fancy Farm picnic in Graves County and at a forum last week at the Kentucky Farm Bureau headquarters in Louisville.
Their only remaining scheduled joint appearance is Oct. 13 on the Kentucky Educational Television network.
The latest in the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky between Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes will be discussed on this weekend’s “Comment on Kentucky,” a public affairs show on the Kentucky Educational Television network.
Joining interim host Bill Bryant of Lexington’s WKYT-TV will be three journalists — Phillip M. Bailey of WFPL in Louisville, Amanda Van Benschoten of The Kentucky Enquirer and Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The show will air live at 8 p.m. Friday on KET.
On the Monday, Aug. 25, edition of “Kentucky Tonight” at 8 p.m. on KET and at KET.org/live, host Bill Goodman and guests will discuss energy policy.
Scheduled guests are Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council;
Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association; Sarah Lynn Cunningham, an environmental engineer and educator and director of the Louisville Climate Action Network; and Steve Gardner, president and CEO of ECSI and president-elect of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration.
Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the message form at KET.org/kytonight. Viewers may also submit questions on Twitter @BillKET or on KET’s Facebook page, facebook.com/KET. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.
“Kentucky Tonight” programs are available online at KET.org and are rebroadcast on KET, KET KY, and radio.
“Kentucky Tonight” is a weekly KET production, produced by Deidre Clark. Goodman is host and managing editor.
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes has set aside her folksy, light-hearted television ad series “Questions for Mitch” in favor of a traditional attack ad as recent polls show her losing ground in a tight race with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“What can happen in 30 years?” asks a narrator in the ad, which was airing in Lexington on Thursday. “A senator can become a multi-millionaire in public office while voting 17 times against raising the minimum wage, three times for corporate tax breaks that send Kentucky jobs overseas and 12 times against extending unemployment benefits for laid off workers.”
The ad concludes: “And when asked about it, just laughed. Thirty years of Mitch McConnell is long enough.”
McConnell’s campaign labeled the ad an attack on the senator’s wife, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, although the ad never makes a direct reference to Chao.
Because the ad mentions McConnell’s personal wealth, the majority of which was inherited from Chao’s family, the McConnell campaign countered that it represented another attack on Chao, who has become a flash point in the campaign in recent days.
“The latest attack ad from Alison Lundergan Grimes is nothing short of despicable,” McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said. “Apparently, Grimes’ entire candidacy has been reduced to attacking Mitch McConnell’s wife at every turn in the hopes she can distract Kentuckians from her profound inexperience and steadfast commitment to the Obama agenda.”
Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton responded by noting that McConnell criticized Grimes’ father, former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, from the stage at last year’s Fancy Farm picnic. She also pointed to supporting material for the ad that said McConnell has earned at least $4 million in government salary since 1985.
Earlier this month, Democratic strategist Kathy Groob posted on Twitter that it was “fair game” to criticize Chao’s Asian ethnicity, prompting a denouncement from the Kentucky Democratic Party. That was followed by a McConnell ad early last week that featured Chao defending her husband’s record on women’s issues. (The fact-checking news service PolitiFact rated the ad “mostly false.”) By the end of last week, a firestorm had erupted when Yahoo! News reported that Chao served on a philanthropical board that, among other things, aims to eliminate coal-fired power plants.
The bulk of McConnell’s wealth comes from a gift Chao’s father, an immigrant-turned-shipping-magnate, gave the couple and an inheritance she received after her mother died in 2007.
On Friday, the McConnell campaign noted previous fact-check articles have taken issue with Grimes’ efforts to tie McConnell’s immense wealth to his votes to raise the pay of congressional members.
In May, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker wrote that “virtually all of the increase in McConnell’s increase in net worth comes from his wife’s money, not his congressional work.”
The accusation that McConnell laughed when asked about extending unemployment benefits is a reference to a radio interview McConnell did with conservative talk show host Lars Larson in early January.
At the end of the interview, as Larson wished McConnell well, the host added that he hoped McConnell would vote against extending unemployment benefits. McConnell chuckled in response and thanked Larson for the interview.
Earlier in his exchange with Larson, which ran about eight minutes, McConnell outlined his counter-offer to Democrats, saying that “if you’re going to do an unemployment extension, we certainly ought to pay for it.”
FRANKFORT — U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign ad that says he supported a “stronger” Violence Against Women Act than President Obama is “mostly false,” a fact-checking news agency said Wednesday.
The ad, released Aug. 5, features McConnell’s wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
“Have you ever noticed how some liberals feel entitled to speak on behalf of all women? As if every woman agrees with Barack Obama,” Chao says.
A narrator then adds: “Mitch McConnell co-sponsored the original Violence Against Women Act – he’s always supported its purpose. Mitch voted for even stronger protections than Obama’s agenda will allow.”
PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times, said the ad is mostly false.
“Perhaps McConnell could argue that the mandatory minimum sentences Republicans required in their alternative made for a ‘stronger’ bill, but advocates of domestic abuse awareness opposed this measure as unnecessary,” PolitiFact wrote. “And the Republican measure was absent several protections for certain groups that were included in the bill Obama signed. McConnell is within his right to oppose those provisions, but it makes it hard for him to prove that he supported ‘stronger’ legislation.”
PolitiFact recently gave a “half true” rating to an ad by McConnell’s Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, that said McConnell voted “two times against the Violence against Women Act.”
Politifact cited McConnell’s history of voting in favor of the law at times, but against it at others.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Harrodsburg police officer David Patterson said he will file Monday to join Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race as a Libertarian.
Patterson, who will turn 43 on Aug. 9, must present at least 5,000 signatures of registered Kentucky voters by Aug. 12 to get on the statewide Nov. 4 U.S. Senate ballot with Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Ken Moellman, state chairman of the Libertarian Party, said Tuesday that a signature drive for Patterson has collected more than 9,000 signatures. He said they are reviewing each signature and already have more than 6,000 that are valid.
The Libertarian Party had planned to have a candidate in place by July 31, Moellman said, but decided not to rush the process after being told Patterson would be excluded from speaking at last weekend’s Fancy Farm picnic in Graves County.
Patterson said in a news release that he will be in the race to win and not to take votes from any particular candidate. “A vote for Patterson is for Patterson. Period,” he said.
His campaign website said he is an “aspiring author, political activist and lifelong, multi-generational Kentuckian. He is an outspoken activist for equal rights for minorities and LGBT persons, and for his strong opposition on violence against women and children.”
A native of Louisville, Patterson is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University. He and his wife, Ashley Nicole Davis Patterson, have two children.
Founded in 1973, the Libertarian Party of Kentucky promotes individual liberty through free markets and social tolerance. Its website claims about 4,500 members. More information about the party can be found at www.LPKY.org.
Just days after Democrats scrambled to disavow a political consultant’s comments about the ethnicity of former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, she is starring in a new ad on behalf of her husband, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The television ad, released Tuesday morning, features Chao appealing directly to women, a demographic that Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has openly coveted since challenging McConnell.
Chao, who was Labor Secretary under former President George W. Bush, asks in the ad: “Have you ever noticed how some liberals feel entitled to speak on behalf of all women?”
“As if every woman agrees with Barack Obama,” Chao says to the camera.
The battle for women — 53 percent of the vote — in this year’s U.S. Senate race has been a nonstop and bruising affair, as Grimes and her campaign have repeatedly leveled accusations of sexism and misogyny at the state’s senior senator.
In an ad Grimes released last week, she focuses on McConnell’s votes not to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and against equal pay proposals. At the Fancy Farm picnic on Saturday, she put an explanation point on her argument. “If Mitch McConnell were a TV show, he’d be Mad Men,” she said. “Treating women unfairly, stuck in 1968 and ending this season.”
In McConnell’s response ad, Chao calls the attacks “desperate and false.”
“Alison, supporting the Obama administration isn’t pro-women,” Chao says. “It’s anti-Kentucky.”
The ad notes that McConnell co-sponsored the original Violence Against Women Act and says that he has supported even stronger protections for women “than Obama’s agenda will allow.”
The law helps fund investigations and prosecutions of violent crimes against women and requires restitution for those crimes. McConnell and most other Republicans in the Senate voted against reauthorizing the law last year, which expanded protections for gays, undocumented immigrants and Native American women who are abused.
In a statement, Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton dismissed McConnell’s latest ad as empty rhetoric.
“Simply saying, ‘I’m married to a woman’ doesn’t speak loud enough,” Norton said. “Your actions and record over 30 years in Washington indicate where and how you will stand up for women.”
Chao, who came to the U.S. in the hull of a freighter ship at age 8, is making her television debut in the general election after a Kentucky Democratic operative came under fire for posting on Twitter about Chao’s Asian heritage.
Kathy Groob, the founder of a pro-Grimes Democratic Super PAC who attended a Grimes event in Northern Kentucky with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in February, said Saturday on Twitter that by bringing Chao into the race, her ethnicity is “fair game” to criticize.
The Kentucky Democratic Party denounced the comments, and Groob deleted them.
Grimes had a 12-point lead among women in a Bluegrass Poll in February, but the Bluegrass Poll released last week showed her lead among women down to one point.