Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 25, 2014

The Grimes Road Map to Defeat Mitch McConnell

For Democrats to win statewide in Kentucky, they must run up the score in urban areas without turning off voters in the state’s agricultural and coal counties. That’s as hard as it sounds — especially when a candidate can be painted by the competition as unsupportive of coal, one of the state’s crucial economic engines.

Exit Ashley Judd; enter Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Kentucky’s secretary of state will formally kick off her campaign against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next week. Her current status as a “blank slate” is what makes Democrats in the Bluegrass State optimistic that she can defeat the so-far-unbeatable Republican.

“I think she can get votes out of northern Kentucky and out west,” said Jimmy Cauley, a veteran Democratic operative in the state. “That’s where the race will be won or lost.”

Cauley, a former chief of staff to Democratic Gov. Steven L. Beshear and campaign manger on Barack Obama’s Senate campaign in Illinois, caught some heat earlier this year for pouring cold water on a prospective Judd bid.

The actress had great name recognition in the state, but Cauley and other state and national Democrats were unconvinced she could take down McConnell. He won two of his past four races with 53 percent or less, but he still emerged victorious.

Their apprehension about Judd’s candidacy wasn’t personal. It was geographical.

Outside the state’s urban areas of Louisville, Lexington and the Cincinnati suburbs in Northern Kentucky — where just one-third of the votes were cast in McConnell’s last race — there was concern Judd would get completely wiped out in the state’s coal and agricultural areas.

For Grimes to succeed, she’ll have to avoid electoral destruction west of Louisville, as well as dampen Republicans’ winning margins in the counties of Boone, Campbell and Kenton, which sit just south of the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It’s the most expensive media market in the state and a GOP foothold.

In the past three Senate elections in Kentucky, Republicans Rand Paul, Jim Bunning and McConnell won each of the three counties with at least 62 percent of the vote.

That’s where Democrats in the state believe they have an opportunity to drive up McConnell’s negatives — the national party has labeled him an “obstructionist” and publicly questioned his leadership among Senate Republicans. The party received a boost July 19 as news broke that Louisville businessman Matt Bevin was reportedly planning to launch a primary challenge to McConnell this week.

They also hope to build on a base of support from Grimes’ family’s roots. Her parents, including former state party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, are from Maysville, a city in Mason County about 60 miles down the Ohio from Cincinnati.

Of course, Grimes is starting off deep in the financial hole against McConnell, who reported last week having $9.6 million in cash on hand as of June 30.

“We’re the underdog, OK?” said Dale Emmons, a Kentucky Democratic consultant and friend of the Lundergan family. “Don’t let anybody convince you otherwise. It’s going to take a substantial sum of money to be competitive.”

The first key county to watch on election night will be Louisville’s Jefferson County. If Grimes is winning by at least 80,000 votes, the rest of the night could be a nail-biter for Republicans. But they’re not banking on that happening.

Billy Piper, a former longtime chief of staff to McConnell, said Grimes’ lack of a record and relative personal anonymity is exactly why the scant public polling so far has shown the race to be competitive.

“My prediction is that by the time the McConnell machine is done with her,” Piper said, “she’s not only been beaten in ’14, but she’s completely damaged and won’t be able to run [for another office] in ’15.”

The playbook so far has been to tie Grimes to President Barack Obama and the national Democratic Party agenda, including “the war on coal.” A super PAC supportive of McConnell, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, did just that on July 19, unleashing its second TV attack ad against Grimes in the past month.

The reasoning is simple. Obama didn’t just lose the past two presidential elections in Kentucky by an average of 20 points, he lost 118 of the state’s 120 counties to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

“That combined with the issue matrix makes this climate so unfavorable for Democrats,” McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said.

Of course, Democrats hope Clinton, now the former secretary of State, and President Bill Clinton, who have both found success in Kentucky, can prove beneficial for Grimes in fundraising and on the trail.

“Her family is legitimately very close to the Clintons,” said Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky. “I think they’re going to get a lot of attention and support from the president and from Hillary.”

  • bpai99

    Pigs will fly before McConnell is beaten in a bid for re-election. The man will die in office. Grimes has no idea of the force of the freight train that is about to run over her. Roadkill doesn’t even begin to describe how she will look when McConnell is done with her.

    • A.F. Meincke

      He already ready looks like a corpse to me.

  • Ken Hippler

    I predict that Sen. McConnell will actually win by his biggest margin since he defeated Sen. Walter Huddleston (D) back in 1984. Grimes is an overrated candidate and is largely a creation of the media culture.

    • stasis

      Is McConnell really the best the people of Kentucky have to offer? The guy is kind of an embarrassment to Kentucky on a national scale.

      • aeduran

        Then move outta there, you BIG LIBERAL BABY!

        • stasis

          I didn’t say I live live there did I e-urine? I actually hope he wins the GOP nomination. The Turtle is a hoot!

      • tpaine1

        Yes and he’s hands down a five times better “leader” than Harry Reid – who’s STILL sitting on 18 “jobs bills” and doesn’t give a dam about the suffering of the American people as we grind on into year five of the Democrat’s Great Recession.

        • Jesse4

          Well, at least you did put “jobs bills” in quotes. In reality these are mostly just measures to end environmental protection measures that would do very little, if anything, to increase jobs.

          • tpaine1

            Jesse, you’re just in denial. I don’t see a single one that has ANYTHING to do with the EPA. Source please.
            Guess the XL Pipeline doesn’t count??

      • daniel155

        He does not have to be the best, just better than his opponent. In this case, he is.

        • stasis

          I think you missed the point daniel.

          • daniel155

            No, you did.

          • stasis

            I know what my point was and see what your point is daniel. I get your point and you don’t get mine. That’s why you are a conservative daniel: You say “No” but don’t know what you’re saying “No” to. Winning an election is one thing, being a national embarrassment is quite another. Do get it now?

          • daniel155

            I don’t know why it is such mystery to you. Bad candidates beat worse candidates all the time. When you call someone a national embarrassment it only means it is only in your opinion.. Lots of people on the other side think Harry Reid is a national embarrassment. He was a bad candidate but he beat a worse one in 2010. Heck, Charles Schumer is running the Senate behind the scenes anyway..

            It is just whose ox is getting gored. I hope that clears things up for you.

    • Bill

      McConnell barely beat Huddleston. If the people of KY don’t realize that Mitch is the lobbyists poster child it doesn’t say much about the intelligence of the state. But we knew that already.

      • HarshTimes

        And your liberal, arrogant dislike for the state and its residents will resonate at the polls and the left will lose Kentucky again.

        • Bill

          Parts of KY are quite scenic. It’s hard to love or hate a state in it’s entirety. But KY isn’t in the top 10 or top 20 of anything significant other than maybe college basketball. McConnell is heavily favored to win the state, never said he wasn’t.

          • daniel155

            What about raising thoroughbreds?

      • tpaine1

        Yeah,well, much as our Democrat controlled House would like to bankrupt us, the GOP controlled Sentate isn’t letting it happen.

        • Bill

          Interesting sentiment considering KY is in the bottom 10 in all categories concerning health care, obesity, education, test scores, longevity etc.

          • tpaine1

            Ever been to eastern Kentucky – very Democrat area of the state.

          • Bill

            I’ve driven thru the state. Eastern Kentucky voted overwhelmingly Republican in the last few elections, as did the rest of the state excepting only 3 or 4 counties.

          • stasis

            That’s “Democratic area” by the way, not “Democrat area”. That’s like saying it’s a very “Republic area”. Limbaugh is teaching poor grammar.

        • stasis

          Seriously, why would anyone in either party want to bankrupt the state other than to destroy state funded programs? That’s just nonsensical rhetoric. You may disagree with some of the opposition’s philosophical convictions, but no one wants the people of Kentucky – or America to suffer. Claims to the contrary are not to be taken seriously.

          • tpaine1

            It’s what Democrats do. You have heard about Detroit and California. You realize Obama has DOUBLED our national debt and that was just in his FIRST term.

          • stasis

            I want to keep it civil and constructive, okay. So let’s just talk facts: Bush expanded Medicare (Part D), but didn’t fund it. That alone was $100′s of billions in deficit spending. Bush borrowed trillion$ from the Chinese (through US Treasury Bond sales) to pay for two unfunded wars and tax breaks that bankrupted America. That is a major source of the present debt. The US and subsequently the global banking systems collapsed because of Bush/Republican monetary policy or lack thereof. Under Bush, crooked bankers made BILLIONS.Cheney’s company Halliburton and the defense industry made BILLIONS. Insurance, pharmaceutical and big oil companies made BILLIONS in cash and in tax breaks while WE, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, GOT SCREWED – By REPUBLICANS. Obama inherited that pile of political garbage and is working to fix it – with mighty resistance from conservatives.

          • tpaine1

            Really?? So the Iraq and Afghan wars weren’t voted on by Congress – receiving huge bi-partisan support? We didn’t fund our military during those wars and Obama hasn’t doubled the national debt?
            Really??

          • stasis

            Thank you for the honest questions.

            Obama has made his contribution to the national debt, true. Did he double it? The answer is actually “no”. He didn’t spend that money – it was already owed. We are paying off the money that Bush borrowed, spent and gave away. Debts aren’t cleared when a new President is sworn in. The total for just the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is at least $3.2-4 trillion and counting.

            Congress’ role: Most of the money spent on those wars was not budgeted by congress, but was “appropriated”; i.e, not funded. It is complicated, but if you do a little research, you’ll see how it was done. Start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_cost_of_the_Iraq_War.

            As far as by-partisan support for the Iraq war. The record shows that we all as Patriotic Americans trusted that the WMD threat was real and it wasn’t. Bush also said that Iraq had been responsible for 9/11 and then had to back peddle. The Dems had to roll-over on that spending because once you’re in war, you’d better win it. But that’s another story.

          • tpaine1

            Yes, indeed, it has now DOUBLED. Does he have the veto pen? He WANTED to spend it on his “crony socialism.”
            Al Gore and Terry McAuliffe made hundreds of millions and the middle class in this country got decimated.
            WOW!! Socialism doesn’t work . . . and NEVER has!!
            I’m not going to repeat the Democrat myth that these wars weren’t funded and I’m not going to waste both our times parsing words. The wars were voted on by Congress (which makes them legal) and they were funded (which makes the myth a lie).
            Had NOTHING to do with WMD and EVERYTHING to do with 9/11. Hussein was funding and training terrorists and MOST Democrats agreed he was a “bad player.”

          • yadayadaaa

            AMEN!
            But the Rusbo dito-heads will still post that propaganda. Like they did when Mitt and Lyan Ryan got their keisters, handed to them!!

  • Armyspouse1988

    In KY–being an “obstructionist” to Obama’s agenda is a POSITIVE THING. If Wondergal-Grimes thinks that’s a winner, she doesn’t understand KY. Why would a state throw away an excellent chance of having the first Senate Majority Leader in DC? Grimes is toast.

    • gnirol

      The problem is not that he is obstructing Pres. Obama’s agenda. The problem is he is obstructing Pres. Obama’s agenda and not presenting anything practical in its place to help people who are hurting. If he thinks that should all be done privately, then he should resign and instead of spending his time saying the same derogatory things over and over again on TV about the president, who is at least trying, going to the same Washington parties where the rich buttonhole him and tell him how they’d what they’d like to oppose next, devote himself 16 hours a day to traveling around KY teaching the language and math illiterate to read, write and do math well enough to, say, read and fill out a tax return accurately without using a service, an accountant or a lawyer. Then, after doing that for six years, even I might support him for the Senate again.

      • Armyspouse1988

        Furthering Obama’s agenda HURTS people. We see the results firsthand of what happens when Obama gets his way 100% of the time as back in 2009. We get falling apart crap like Obamacare, that he’s now too embarrassed to implement until after the 2014 elections. That alone has done more to kill job creation, and guarantee that any job created will be a part-time, minimum wage job. Why BLS counts those as jobs is dishonest. Who does THAT help? Then we have Obama’s war on coal–a REAL winning issue in KY–devastating families who have no where else to turn for work. Don’t you remember back during the last budget impasse–it took McConnell and Biden to negotiate the solution. McConnell certainly isn’t the “obstructionist,” the spoiled child Obama is.

        • Vanbren5

          Obamacare is not falling apart. Its already saving $$$, driving down prices and people are getting Health insurance who otherwise wouldn’t have it. Obamacare is working. In the long term Obamacare will win the day and the GOP obstructionism will die.

          • Armyspouse1988

            That is complete BUNK. Obamacare is making premiums RISE for the young and the healthy to compensate for adding those who are unhealthy, or can’t afford insurance. Last week it was announced that premiums would rise 72% in Indiana for some groups. SOMEBODY has to pay–there is no such thing as a free lunch. If it weren’t FALLING APART, why did Obama postpone the employer mandate–but still require the individual to pony up? This law cannot be implemented, and it will eventually become totally unraveled.

          • Leah Noe

            This story about Indiana is false. Even our local paper in Evansville is running stories about Pence’s lies. Armyspouse needs another example because this is just inaccurate.

          • yadayadaaa

            She’s another rightwing talk radoi propaganda spewer. They are hopeless. Fortunatly for America. They are also dieing off and presently rated BELOW root canals by WE THE PEOPLE!
            Poor things.

          • HarshTimes

            Talk about drinking the kool-aid – another low information democrat stumbles into an adult conversation.

          • tpaine1

            What planet do YOU live on?? Our premiums are up 50% over the last two years!!

          • Vanbren5

            Obamacare hasn’t even been fully implemented yet. In Blue states where the Democratic Governers and legislators are cooperating and they’ve already uploaded the Health Care exchanges (CA, NY, MA) Health Insurance premiums are falling fast. Red States wil l always have higher health insurance premiums because of high risk unhealthy lifestyles. Moreover, in red states where the governors refuse to expand medicare to include those who make up to $30,000. per year, your insurance premiums will sky rocket to pay for their healthcare. You pay a huge price for voting republican.

          • frdmbased

            It is not Medicare the states are not expanding, it is Medicaid and while the Feds promise to pay 100% for the first few years, that promise is not permanent and the state’s share of future expanded Medicaid expenses will destroy state budgets.

          • tpaine1

            And will until the insurance companies figure out that on the “uninsurables” are signing up THEN they’ll skyrocket like everyone else’s have.

          • yadayadaaa

            They were quadrupiling under Bush. WHY would you expect them to be fixed overnight. While you fools sabotage the American Peoples healthcare system. Because you are losers every presidential election? Hmmmm?

      • tpaine1

        There are 18 “jobs bills” on Senator Reid’s desk that were passed on a bi-partisan vote in the House. He won’t let them even get a vote because he knows they would pass.

  • TheAntiProgressive

    Senator Double Chin needs to retire along with McCain and many other Progressive Republicans masquerading as “Conservatives”.

    • HarshTimes

      I have to agree with you on McCain.

  • A.F. Meincke

    I’d like to see the defeat of Rep. Steve Pearce, (R), N.M. 2nd Dist.. Steve Pearce is WRONG for New Mexico.

    • daniel155

      Maybe you are wrong for New Mexico or, at least, living in the wrong part of the state.

  • gnirol

    Snowflakes have a better chance of beating out grains of sand in number in Malibu than Ms Grimes has of beating Sen McConnell this cycle, much as I wish she would. One thing not mentioned in the piece above is that she has previously won a statewide election, something, for example, Ms. Judd does not have in her resumé. As Kentuckians must know, Ms. Grimes won around 90 of 120 counties in her landslide statewide win in 2011. Yes, I know that Sen. McConnell is not Bill Johnson and she is now running to become a relatively powerless senator against one of the most powerful leaders in Washington, even if he does nothing useful for the country. Surely, it feels good to have a major player in DC from your state. However, if the voters elect her two or three times, she will rise in power too, assuming she does a good job in her new role. But like I said, there’ll be more snow than sand on the beach at Malibu before that happens. Sen McConnell is just like the late senator, Jesse Helms of NC. He doesn’t care by how much he wins as long as he finds a way to ensure he wins.

    • tpaine1

      Are you talking about Barack Obama??

      • yadayadaaa

        Now your sounding like a loser.

  • CP21

    Commence the carpet bombing of the left wing loon friend of the Clintons and Obie in 3,2,1…

  • Scott Reed

    She is toast.

    • yadayadaaa

      Sounds like you and peggy noonan. As Mitt and Lyan Ryan got beat like hoes!!!!

      • Scott Reed

        Not in Kentucky.

  • tpaine1

    Could the vastly more intelligent Sharron Angle beat Harry Reid. Nope. Whatever her name is ain’t going to win and it’s not even going to be close.

    • Jesse4

      I like the way you put “Sharron Angle” and “intelligent” in the same sentence. The humor is sorta twisted, but I like it!

    • Bill

      That was a joke, right? There are smart conservatives, she just ain’t one of them.

  • chrismalllory

    Yes, the big government RINO McConnell needs to go. But replacing him with a big government loving progressive from Lexington is no answer either. Choosing between McConnell and Grimes will be like picking between cancer and AIDS. We can only hope he loses the primary.

  • daniel155

    Typical red state Democratic strategy. Get a candidate that will run as a conservative but who will be everything but one if she wins.

    • daniel155

      Why thumbs down? It’s true.

      • Ryan Darby

        Because you don’t know what you’re talking about; look at Senator Mark Begich in Alaska or Senator Jon Tester in Montana; they vote conservatively on guns and oil, yet they’re still Democrats. Same with Landrieu in Louisiana. And Congressman Jim Matheson in my own state is certainly not a liberal.

        • daniel155

          They don’t vote conservative on key votes when Harry Reid needs their vote. Example from the House: some so-called moderate and conservative Democratic members got permission from Nancy Pelosi to vote against the Unaffordable Care Act after she already lined up enough votes to pass it. Most of the conservative votes by the senators you cite are made when the outcome is already decided either way.. If you want a conservative, or for that matter a liberal, vote for the real deal; not the pale imitations that you cite.

          • yadayadaaa

            gee. like the gop loons dont let their blue state reps off the hook if they have more than enough votes already???
            Hypocrits.

          • daniel155

            This article had been posted a long time ago and it had been a long time before I got any new responses to my post and this is your response!?. Rather disappointing. You need to up your game or go home.

            I wanted to hear from Ryan up there because he was actually coherent. Wrong but coherent.

        • tpaine1

          And yet the voted for the ObamaCare Tax – forgotten about “the Louisiana Purchase” have we?

          • yadayadaaa

            You’ll have to take that up with president romney!
            hahahaha
            Stupid republicans.

  • Citizen Loring

    Dems will have to disown Obama in 2014.

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