McConnell gets an opponent, and Dems land candidate
July 1st, 2013
04:35 PM ET
10 months ago

McConnell gets an opponent, and Dems land candidate

Updated at 6:24 p.m. ET on Monday, July 1

(CNN) - National Democrats have landed their candidate to face off against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Kentucky's Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who many in the party consider their best hope to try and unseat McConnell in next year's midterm elections, announced Monday that she will form a campaign in the next two weeks.

"Kentucky is tired of 28 years of obstruction. Kentucky is tired of someone who has voted against raising the minimum wage while all the while quadrupling his own net worth. Kentucky is tired with the senior senator who has lost touch with Kentucky issues, voters and their values," said Grimes at a news conference in Frankfort, the state's capital.

Grimes announcement directly followed a meeting with around 50 of her strongest supporters. That gathering followed similar get-togethers Grimes has held throughout the state, according to Jonathan Hurst, a senior Grimes political adviser.

Starting in March, when actress and activist Ashley Judd announced that she would not challenge McConnell, Grimes came under pressure to announce her intentions one way or another, with national Democrats touting her as a top potential candidate.

Grimes, the daughter of a former Kentucky Democratic party chairman with close ties to former President Bill Clinton, also came under attack recently by an internet ad put out by the McConnell campaign that poked fun at the amount of time she was taking to make a decision, and by a pro-McConnell independent group that went up with an ad tying her to President Barack Obama.

Responding to the criticism that she was taking too long to decide, Grimes said, "make no mistake, members of the media, this due diligence was not reluctance, it was not hesitancy."

With Grimes launching a bid, the race in Kentucky could end up becoming one of the most expensive marquee 2014 Senate battles. While Democrats consider McConnell vulnerable, he has a large war chest, with $8.6 million cash on hand at last check.

Pro-Democratic groups have already gone up with ads earlier this spring against McConnell, who has also aired TV commercials. It's extremely rare for an incumbent to go up with spots so early in a campaign cycle.

"His ads are based out of fear of losing his 30 year grip on power," charged Grimes.

President Barack Obama lost Kentucky by 23 percentage points in last November's election, and McConnell was quick to tie Grimes to the president.

"Accepting the invitation from countless Washington liberals to become President Obama's Kentucky candidate was a courageous decision by Alison Lundergan Grimes and I look forward to a respectful exchange of ideas," said McConnell in a statement. "The next sixteen months will provide a great opportunity for Kentuckians to contrast a liberal agenda that promotes a war on coal families and government rationed health care with someone who works everyday to protect Kentuckians from those bad ideas."

There was a similar message from the National Senatorial Campaign.

"Kentuckians have absolutely no reason to send Alison Lundergan Grimes to Washington to help pass the policies of a President whom they adamantly oppose and to elect a liberal Senate Leader who declared, 'coal makes us sick, said NRSC Executive Director Rob Collins.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee calls McConnell "the most unpopular incumbent in the entire country," and adds that Grimes entry makes the race a toss up.

"We expect to preserve our majority next year by defending strong incumbents and playing offense in Kentucky and Georgia. We have a long road to travel, but Republicans are making our job a little easier each day, failing to recruit strong candidates and expand the playing field," said DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil, in a statement.

Kentucky hasn't sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1992, when Wendell Ford won re-election.


Filed under: 2014 • Kentucky • Mitch McConnell • Senate
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    -Richard in Houston

    Mr McDaniel. Please turn off Fox and stop listening to right wing nut radio. It is warping your brain. The
    Democrats do not want to do what you suggest. When say things like that people just start laughing at you not with you.
    *************************
    Save your breath: he/she/it never responds directly to anyone's comments. Rick's sole purpose for being here is to recite a predictable mantra of untruths and gross exagerrations and to watch the reactions.

    July 1, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. Data Driven

    LOL, thanks, DM4O!

    Kentuckians get very defensive about their state and the people in it. No one really LIKES McConnell there, but he's theirs, and they'll reelect him just to spite the rest of us. State pride is off the charts in KY. If you're proud of your state, multiply that by about 5, and you'll get an idea, if you've never been there.

    Proud to the point of self-inflicted injury!

    July 1, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Steveo

    @Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Ne
    I live in Kentucky, I like Mitch McConnell and his wife. If your not from KY , mind your own business.
    ---------------–
    Sorry, but he's the Senate minority leader responsible for all of the gridlock in Congress. He must go!
    ------------–
    Yes he is the Senate minority leader BUT he is also the Senator from KENTUCKY. I am from SC and you are in Va. Neither one of us gets a vote! The best we can get is send money (no thanks), sit on the sidelines and boo or cheer! There are a lot of folks I'd like to see gone but because I get no vote, I boo, cheer, or rant here!

    Ne's point is understandable, although I would have said it a bit more gently. Other than voting for president, politics is pretty much local!

    July 1, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Jinx9to88

    @ NE

    I live in Kentucky, I like Mitch McConnell and his wife. If your not from KY , mind your own business.

    ------

    I hope you feel the same way about the Koch brothers and The NRA because they are not from KY. McConnel is joke he may be a good neighbor but he is terrible at being a senator. Typical GOP straight garbage!!!!

    July 1, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  5. Steveo

    @Data Driven

    LOL, thanks, DM4O!

    Kentuckians get very defensive about their state and the people in it. No one really LIKES McConnell there, but he's theirs, and they'll reelect him just to spite the rest of us. State pride is off the charts in KY. If you're proud of your state, multiply that by about 5, and you'll get an idea, if you've never been there.

    Proud to the point of self-inflicted injury!
    ---------------
    You like Anthony Weiner or Mark Sanford? If you don't live in NYC, or in Sanford's district, it does not matter if you like them or not! If you don't live in Kentucky it does not matter of you like McConnell or not! Yes, he is in a leadership position and we don't vote on that either, GOP senators do! Politics is local!

    July 1, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. Steveo

    Somebody please explain why ALL of the personal attacks on McConnell are from the left? Yeah I know BOTH sides do the same thing but why do YOU do it? Just askin'

    July 1, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. Dumbas[R]ocks

    The only hillbillies talking crap about asians are those in KY....and most of them are [R].

    John, PA - now, what you said sounds familiar......hmmm, where did I hear it before......hhhhmmmmm......oh yea, I know now!....it was all that empty trash talking and made-up polling that embarrassed [R]s in 2008 and then AGAIN in 2012!!!

    John get some stem cells and try to grow a brain from scratch...its your best shot.

    July 1, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. rob

    The way things are shaping up, the 2014 midterms are going to be a Republican landslide. The Senate will probably change hands with McConnell taking over as majority leader and Harry Reid stepping aside so Chuck Schumer can take over Dem leadership.

    My graet hope is that the Republicans get enough seats in the Senate to really effect change. This is how the country will FINALLY move past this failed liberal progressive experiment to "Fundimentally Transform" America to some form of European Democrat Socialist state.

    July 1, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. Data Driven

    @Steveo,

    We can't have opinions on our national leaders if we didn't directly take part in their election to office?

    As for personal attacks on politicians, it has always been ever thus. If you're going to raise the red flag on that, then I expect to see you butting in whenever someone pulls the "Odumbo, Oblahblah" card.

    July 1, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. just sayin

    leftist democrats are delusional if they think they are going to unseat mcconnel in kentucky! it will be a great joy to see them waste millions and millions trying though. just like they wasted many millions in wisconsin. dream on losers....

    July 1, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
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