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Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) worked the room at a big Democratic dinner recently:

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) knocked her potential opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), at a Democratic fundraising dinner Thursday night, the latest indication she may be moving toward a Senate bid.

According to local news site WHAS11, Lundergan Grimes told supporters at the annual Wendell Ford Dinner to say "yes" to defeating McConnell in 2014.

"My fellow Kentuckians, I ask you, based on tonight and in the coming months, will we send a message that Kentucky is ready for new leadership in Washington, D.C.?" she asked.

"Kentucky is tired of 28 years of obstruction and misleading leadership." - The Hill, 6/7/13

Thursday night's dinner might have been an indication that Grimes is gearing up for a run against McConnell:

A Grimes candidacy would be a huge boon for Democrats who have spent months seeking a challenger to McConnell, whom they believe to be one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans in the Senate, despite his $8.6 million war chest. Grimes is a solid fundraiser in her own right, but also has the Clinton family and Democrat fundraiser throughout the state, thanks to her father, former party chairman Jerry Lundergan. Bill Clinton reportedly personally encouraged her to run and promised to help.

Grimes was at the top of many Democrats' lists even before actress Ashley Judd decided not to run, and saw the young secretary of state as much more viable. She has already been elected statewide, winning her seat in 2011 with just over 60 percent of the vote -- slightly more, actually, than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney received in 2012. - National Journal, 6/7/13

And McConnell is very nervous about Grimes running against him that even though she hasn't announced her candidacy, that's not stopping his Super PAC from attacking Grimes:

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, an independent super PAC, ran a full-page ad Sunday in The Paducah Sun that showed photos of Grimes, Obama and Pelosi, all Democrats.

"Alison Lundergan Grimes says she's 'listening ...'" the ad says. "But who is she listening to?"

It continues: "When Alison Lundergan Grimes attacks Kentucky's Senator Mitch McConnell for 'obstruction,' she's signaling to Washington liberals that she would rubber-stamp the Obama-Pelosi agenda that McConnell is defending Kentuckians from."

The ad specifically mentions McConnell's opposition to an overhaul of health insurance laws and Environmental Protection Agency regulations affecting the coal industry, among other things.

The political action committee ran a similar ad last month in The Kentucky Enquirer and indicated Wednesday that more might be in the offing.

Grimes' political adviser, Jonathan Hurst, called the ads "false attacks that show just how scared Mitch McConnell and his supporters are." - Herald-Leader, 6/5/13

Grimes speech at the dinner and McConnell's attacks are causing Kentucky Democrats to heavily push for her to jump in:

The chair of the Louisville Democratic Party says he'd prefer Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to make a quick decision on challenging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell next year.

Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party Chair Bill Ryan says he doesn’t agree Grimes is doing the party a disservice, but that it would be bet better to know the secretary of state's intentions now rather than later.

"I would like to see her make her mind up in the next few weeks. That would make it a whole lot simpler for the Democratic Party to find other candidates ... that are considering to go ahead and say they’re going to run," he says. "But as far as bullying her, no I’m not going to say she should or should not get into the race. If she wants to take up to January to decide that’s her business."

A recent Public Policy Polling survey showed Grimes tied with McConnell, and she is being heavily recruited by national Democrats to take on the GOP leader. - WFPL News 89.3, 6/6/13

And of course, Kentucky's sole Democratic Congressman, John Yamuth (D. KY-3) got his jab in about McConnell and is also pushing Grimes to make a decision:

“I can be really brief tonight and just say, Mitch McConnell sucks,” he told the crowd at a Jefferson County Democratic Party dinner.

At the same dinner, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes appeared to be embracing the idea of a challenge to the Senate minority leader, although she has set no timetable for her decision and is still not a sure bet to run.

Polling has suggested that McConnell could be vulnerable, but he is a skilled politician with a huge war chest. Yarmuth has been pressuring Lundergan Grimes to either get in the race or bow out so other potential Democrats can step forward.

“I do think that it is important that Alison Grimes immediately decide whether she’s running or not because there are a number of people sitting on the sidelines who would be interested I think in making a race who are waiting to find out what she does,” Yarmuth told the radio station WFPL last week. “And for her to keep prolonging this, as she said possibly until the late summer, I think is a disservice to the party.” - Washington Post, 6/7/13

Louisville music promoter Bennie J. Smith and Owensboro contractor Ed Marksberry have already announced their senate bids.  Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry, environmentalist Tom FitzGerald and Lexington attorney Bill Garmer, the former chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, have also expressed interest in running.  But Kentucky Democrats are worried that Grimes taking her time to decide might hurt their chances of taking McConnell's seat.  But someone who's been in Grimes position explained a few things:

The last Kentucky Democrat to run for U.S. Senate, Attorney General Jack Conway (D-Ky), told the crowd that Grimes is "doing it the right way," and explained to reporters that she is asking all the right questions of the Democrats who want to push her into the race.

"When you're getting recruited by the DSCC and talking to senators up in Washington, they make you a lot of promises, and sometimes those promises aren't always kept,"  Conway said in an interview.  "And so, Alison is doing the smart thing when they make a promise, she's saying 'Okay, really? Are you going to help me make the calls?'  Because there's not enough money in Kentucky to take on Mitch McConnell. It's got to be a national fundraising effort."

Grimes exhibited a healthy knowledge of opposition research against McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader.

"What we are doing here tonight will send a message that Kentucky is ready to have a senator that puts the interests of Kentucky first instead of their own, as our senior senator has done in voting against raising the minimum wage but all the while in 28 years quadrupling his own net worth," Grimes said.

In what appears to be a precursor of the gender factor in the 2014 campaign, Grimes also cited McConnell's voting record on the Violence Against Women Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Paycheck Fairness Act.  She also linked McConnell to other Republican politicians' controversial remarks, the "legitimate rape" comments of 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin and the statement this week by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) blaming “hormones” for increased rates of sexual assault in the military. - WHAS 11, 6/6/13

It's understandable that this is not an easy decision to make.  McConnell has a big war chest and he's not only beaten his opponents but also ended their political careers.  But I do hope Grimes can make a decision soon because I too would love to get rid of McConnell.  Hopefully we'll be hearing an announcement from Grimes soon.  Meanwhile, Curtis Morrison is showing no remorse for eavesdropping and recording McConnell and his staff plotting to take down Ashley Judd:

Morrison, 44, unemployed and now living with his sister in California, has kept up the heat on McConnell despite being the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into the secret recording.

He has written a piece for Salon, a national news website, in which he acknowledged making the recording, and has gone on national television to imply that members of political action committees illegally attended the McConnell meeting.

He’s also given numerous interviews with local reporters.

“Since I have not done anything nearly as egregious as anyone has alleged, I feel like I should not cower and hide,” he said.

Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager said “unequivocally” that no representatives of super PACs were present at the meeting.

Friends describe Morrison as “fearless” and say no one should be surprised he refuses to back down.

“That’s precisely why he is a valued friend,” said Brian Tucker, another blogger in Louisville. “Because of of his loyalty and personal commitment.” - Louisville Courier-Journal, 6/7/13

I for one thank Morrison for exposing McConnell and I wish him the best of luck with everything.

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 07:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by My Old Kentucky Kos and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  IMO, Grimes is a much stronger candidate than (5+ / 0-)

    Ashley Judd. I think many people underestimate how many Kentuckians rely on the coal industry.

    And that isn't by their own choosing - there just isn't much else in the way of jobs for a lot of them, especially in Eastern Kentucky. They aren't evil people who relish in the effects of mountain top removal. In fact, most of them hate it. But when the decision is between feeding their families and the environment, it's a no brainer. Judd's outspoken opposition to the coal industry would likely have been her downfall - it's just too important for too many Kentuckians, whether any of us like it or not.

    •  It's always mystified me, (4+ / 0-)

      the voting patterns certainly bear out the argument that you're making-- Obama got killed in the coal mining areas of southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. But the number of actual jobs is so small -- only 13,000 people, in a state where 1.35 million people voted in the last off-year election. Even if you assume because that every coal job supports five others, that's only 65,000. Why then does coal remain so influential?

      "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

      by randomfacts on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 08:18:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's because Kentuckians are sympathetic (2+ / 0-)

        to the plight of coal miners. Most coal miners don't have the education or training that would allow them to get other jobs, even if they were available.

        It's just a fact that Kentuckians look out for each other, and they don't want those 13,000 people to lose their jobs, even if they aren't directly affected by it. It's an undeniable reality that Kentucky's economy would suffer if the coal mining industry disappears, and the people who live there -- people who are proud of their state -- don't want that.

        •  But why can't (0+ / 0-)

          we put regulations in place to help make mining safer without getting rid of it?

          My understanding is that part of the problem is the United Mine Workers opposes some safety standards that would lead to fewer deaths and fewer health issues.

          Further, can't one be anti-mountaintop removal and not anti-mining?

      •  Money, propaganda, ignorance, and fear. (0+ / 0-)

        “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

        by ahumbleopinion on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 08:30:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nope, wrong. Not even fucking close. (0+ / 0-)
          •  How? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Valar Morghulis

            I grew up in WV.  My grandfather was a coal miner, lived in a company town, paid in script.

            “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

            by ahumbleopinion on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 08:49:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I grew up in KY. My grandfather was a coal miner. (0+ / 0-)

              I have script from his company town sitting on my desk. To say that the influence of coal in Appalachia is a result of money, propaganda, ignorance, and fear is to completely ignore the history, geography, and demographics of the area.

              For example, corruption is not what made transportation in and out of the area challenging, nor did it form the negative perception of the region that has been perpetuated by movies and television for decades.

              It's easy to say the problems exist because of "money, propaganda, ignorance, and fear." Hell, we can say that about anything and it'll sound right. But solving the problems requires understanding why they exist in the first place. So far, at least for Appalachia, no one has done that.

            •  Also, I apologize for being short with you. (0+ / 0-)

              The problems that face this region of the country are particularly important to me, as I'm sure they are to you. Sometimes my frustration gets the best of me.

      •  This is such a great question that I had to add (2+ / 0-)

        something else. This area of the country, Appalachia, has a unique history and demographics which explains so much of why things like this mystify people who are unfamiliar with the area. The people there deserve so much better than the reputation they have. Perhaps a diary is in order.

        •  You should write (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ms scarlett leadpipe

          That Diary.  Especially when I hear how these people are treated by the mine owners, I can't believe that they vote against their own best interests.

          Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011)

          by Rosalie907 on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 09:49:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Grimes is McConnell's strongest opponent. Period. (0+ / 0-)

      She's talking like someone who is thinking about running a serious campaign against McConnell. Quite frankly, I thought Judd was simply meddling around in Kentucky politics until Grimes was ready to give serious thought about a potential run against McConnell.

      "It's not enough to be in the majority, you have to stand for something." -Russ Feingold

      by DownstateDemocrat on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 10:59:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How can you be so sure about Judd? (0+ / 0-)

      Ashley Judd has been an outspoken critic of the coal industry in Kentucky but her argument is not so much on coal in general but about what the coal industry is doing to damage the environment.  By damaging the environment in the name of business, that's the same kind of argument one can make for how loggers continue to go in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and chop trees down, even though it is outlawed.  

      What if Judd could have been asked:  If you're against coal,  what would you be able to do to replace it?  Any ideas?  

      But she never ended up running so of course, people are throwing the thought of a Judd candidacy as a joke.  How are they so sure Judd would face a downfall?  Would Judd not be able to be an effective communicator?

      I think you're making the same kind of arguments all these other cynics made prior to Ashley Judd even being considered.  You're making judgments on a Judd candidacy before they actually happen.  

      •  If she ideas for for how to replace (0+ / 0-)

        the coal industry, she isn't very good at communicating those.

        You're making judgments on a Judd candidacy before they actually happen
        You're 100% correct. But that doesn't mean I'm making judgment based on nothing. Judd's history as a public figure in Kentucky is long, and like it or not, over the past several years she's done a lot to damage her own reputation. For example, talking about a reclaimed mining site, she said this:
        "On another site they built a golf course," said Judd. "I'm not too keen on reinforcing stereotypes about my people, but I don't know a lot of hillbillies who golf."
        A lot of people in Kentucky were quite insulted by that. The fact that she doesn't actually live in Kentucky (she lives in Tennessee) made that cut a little deeper - many in the state don't view her as one of their own, and so comments like that come across as far more insulting. It isn't just her outspoken views on coal that make her a weak candidate in Kentucky.
        •  Perhaps this might give you insight... (0+ / 0-)

          New York Times article talking about how a potential Ashley Judd candidacy would get more traction than you think:

          Still, many residents said Ms. Judd’s character, which they admired, was more important than her politics.

          “She may be a little too liberal for me,” said Janice Taylor, a 71-year-old retiree. But neither was she a fan of Mr. McConnell’s.

          “I’ve got tired of him,” she said. “He’s always against everything.”

          Perry Dalton, 67, who retired from the AK Steel plant in Ashland, said he was a Republican but liked Ms. Judd because she was not a typical politician.

          “I know she wants to come back to help her state, her community, just from her heart,” said Mr. Dalton, holding the hand of a granddaughter before a ride on an electric indoor train at the Town Center mall. “I know she’s more liberal than me. But honesty is more important to me than anything.”

          Joan Christian, 42, a hospital technician, said she previously voted for Mr. McConnell but would not rule out Ms. Judd even because of her current residence out of state.

          “I think she’s as qualified as anyone,” Ms. Christian said. “She was an educated professional woman before she was an actress.”

          With all due respect, Ashley Judd had no campaign team ready to guide her on how to do outreach in Kentucky seeing as she did not run.  

          So what if Ashley Judd is too outspoken?  A "weak" candidate in my view is one that has no fire in their belly or cannot communicate with voters.

          I would say perhaps now she wasn't the right candidate to begin with.  But Mitch McConnell sure wouldn't survive on the stage with Judd.  On top of that, polls showed quite a race would happen if Judd had ran.

    •  However, I prefer Alison Grimes at this point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, ms scarlett leadpipe

      Unlike Ashley Judd, she's less of a lightning rod, has less baggage and has the entire Kentucky Democratic Party ready to back her once she decides to run (and all signs at this point seem to indicate that per this diary).  Judd never had that although John Yarmuth was Judd's most vocal supporter.

      Noting how much the Democratic Party wants to take down Mitch McConnell, I think Grimes may be just the right choice that's needed.  Maybe Ashley Judd will run at some point for office but we'll see.  I just think she needed some air.

    •  It's not just about the coal; (0+ / 0-)

      Part of it is experience. Grimes has won statewide elections in Kentucky, which means that she knows at least something of how it's done.

      "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

      by Australian2 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:24:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mitch, where do you get off making (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rosalie907, Matt Z

    misogynistic, ageist jokes about Nancy Pelosi? Your own face looks like a mudslide. And, clearly, if you are a case-in-point, ugly is more than skin-deep.

    One more thing, Mitch, regarding your notoriously ugly and ruthless campaigning style: they say, "Live by the sword, die by the sword." Maybe you'll finally get yours.

    Just something to keep in mind.  

    I hope she runs! Great diary, thanks.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 08:30:06 PM PDT

  •  Grimes is exactly the kind of candidate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    who could beat McConnell. After all, could their be a bigger contrast from McTurtle? That's probably why he's already attacking her.

    Filibuster reform, 2013 - woulda, coulda, shoulda.

    by bear83 on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 08:31:57 PM PDT

    •  Yes, if she is a strong candidate I think being a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, bear83

      woman could be a plus.  Surely even in a relatively conservative state, there are women who usually vote Republican who are tired of the GOP insults, slanders, and attacks.

      “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

      by ahumbleopinion on Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 08:44:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Holy crap. Grimes is five days older than me! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, ms scarlett leadpipe

    She's born in November 23, 1978.  I was born in November 28, 1978.  Sagittarius people can be tenacious.

    People don't realize, we've got a 34 year old woman who could take on an old fart who happens to be the Senate Minority Leader.  

    Potential youth vote!

  •  McConnell will be hard to beat and I am sure he (0+ / 0-)

    will fight like a stuck Kentucky porker.

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