Meet Mitch McConnell’s New Challenger: Alison Lundergan Grimes

Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state, announced she will challenge the Republican Senate leader

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Democrats have successfully recruited a top candidate in the fight to unseat Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell next year.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, announced Monday afternoon that she would challenge the Republican Senate leader, whose national clout belies his shaky standing at home. “Kentucky deserves a change,” she told supporters gathered in Frankfort, Ky., who whooped as she revealed a decision that was closely held until the moment she bounded onstage.

After a brief dalliance with actress and activist Ashley Judd, local and national Democrats zeroed in on Grimes, 34, as the best chance to topple the powerful five-term incumbent. A Lexington attorney and the daughter of a former state Democratic Party chairman, Grimes won election in November 2011, coasting to victory in the conservative commonwealth after tapping into a deep fundraising network. She ran in that race as a plainspoken, probusiness moderate, who put her grandmothers in a campaign spot.

Her new target is a national heavyweight, one of the top practitioners of the inside game in either party and an architect of the GOP strategy to stymie Barack Obama’s agenda. While he is arguably the most powerful Republican in the country, McConnell is also, according to poll numbers, among the most vulnerable. A survey conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) last spring pegged the Kentuckian as the most unpopular Senator in the country, with a lowly 36% approval rating. A more recent PPP survey found McConnell and Grimes deadlocked at 45% in a hypothetical matchup.

Even so, Grimes has a hard road ahead of her. McConnell may be unloved in Kentucky, but he has marshaled a powerful re-election operation armed with technological prowess and a well-stocked war chest. To shore up his right flank, McConnell recruited Jesse Benton, a former top adviser to Kentucky’s junior Senator Rand Paul, to run his campaign. His team showcased its tactical savvy last spring by redirecting criticism after rogue liberal operatives bugged his campaign office. The recording, which spurred an FBI investigation, left few scars on McConnell despite revelations that his team had strategized about ways to tar Judd as “emotionally unbalanced.”

Republican operatives will attempt to link Grimes to Obama in a state where the President lost by more than 20 points last fall. “Kentuckians have absolutely no reason to send Alison Lundergan Grimes to Washington to help pass the policies of a President whom they adamantly oppose,” said Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Grimes said she was up for the challenge. “I am no stranger to being an underdog,” she said, noting the weeks she spent weighing the decision should not be taken as a sign of reluctance or hesitancy. “Kentucky is tired of 28 years of obstruction,” she argued in halting remarks that attacked McConnell for voting against a minimum-wage hike while quadrupling his own net worth over nearly three decades in office.

Even before Grimes jumped into the race, she was the target of preemptive strikes by pro-McConnell forces. One Web ad, cut by McConnell’s campaign, spoofed the Democratic establishment’s attempt to cajole her to run, while a conservative super PAC bought TV time to tie Grimes to Senate majority leader Harry Reid and paint her as “Obama’s cheerleader in Kentucky.”

The race could be one of the nation’s marquee Senate matchups next year, with the money and mudslinging to accompany the high stakes.

28 comments
craigintwincities
craigintwincities

All I can say is, beware of this "news" story. All those polls that say Alison "has a strong chance" are conducted by DEMOCRATIC polling firms. When was the last time ANY Democratic polling firm in Kentucky admitted they didn't stand a chance in Hades, PRIOR to election night results pouring in? Answer: never.

matthew32d
matthew32d

Looks like Mitch has done a wonderful job of leading this great state of Kentucky...44th in healthcare and 5th worst poverty problem in the United States...kudos Mitch you have done a fantastic job over the last 30 years!!!!

jmac
jmac

McConnell:  "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."

Anyone going after the Lord McConnell is "courageous" and obviously liberal and Obamian.    He's running scared.     I hope Wendy Davis does the courageous thing and takes on Perry.  There's a new poll out that he would slaughter her.  I don't believe it.   The time is ripe.  The Republican party isn't going shed it's  dinosaur image any time soon.   Who better to bring them into this century than women?


SparksinKY
SparksinKY

This Kentuckian is excited to ditch Mitch! To put into perspective how long he has been in office, Lundergan Grimes was 6 when he started his senate career.

jackiebaby
jackiebaby

I hope people in Kentucky are waking up and defeat the old Radical man from politics and save Kentucky and the Nation.

RobertCope1
RobertCope1

Once again you idiot liberals would rather put someone in office based on how they look rather than what's best for this country.

cookie.garris
cookie.garris

As a Kentuckian I am no fans of McConnell's. But After doing some research (unlike the person who wrote this article) the evidence shows that Lundergan Grimes has many questionable donors and political connections needing to be examined.

bigdandfw
bigdandfw

Is she related to Frank Grimes (or Grimey, as he liked to be called).

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

Please, Kentucky, I beg you -- don't make me look at Turtle McSnertle for six more years.

jwcraos
jwcraos

Pros:  She doesn't look like a wax museum escapee.
Cons:  Kentucky voters are not rational, as evidenced by the fact Mitch is still in office.

tbone88
tbone88

Politics aside, its a cute ad. 

SamSmith
SamSmith

I love this,  McConnell the Senile old KY Senator who threaten everyone if they like or promote Obama.  This old man thinks he runs the nation, but Grimes will show him to the rocking chair.   Vote out McConnell in 2014 to help save the state and this nation.   He is the Terrorist of the Republicans

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

Decrying mudslinging in the same post that contains a web ad. 

Web ads are created with the hopes that the media will disseminate them at no cost to the creators. Smart move if you have a willing media. 

roknsteve
roknsteve

Not only is she plain spoken and a pro-business moderate, she's about 300 years younger than Mitch. 

NebuchadnezzarII
NebuchadnezzarII

Annnnd her first political ad? Scaring the old folks, way to go!

roknsteve
roknsteve

@jmac I agree.  I think the Gee-O-Pee is going to get a rude awakening from women in 2014.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@tommyudo Thanks for the link.  Big cover-up of McConnell.  You should post that in MMR's.

jason024
jason024

@RobertCope1 Funny because who were the ones who supported Palin and Bachmann? Two people who clearly had no business holding political office.

SparksinKY
SparksinKY

@RobertCope1Actually, read about her career so far. YOU are the one merely looking at her face. I am an actual voting Kentuckian and a lot of us, liberal or conservative, are tired of McConnell as our senator.

markb3699
markb3699

Plus she doesn't look like Jabba the Hut.

smart1
smart1

@NebuchadnezzarII - Scaring the old folks?  Mitch scares everyone every time he is on T.V.  And not just by telling them the sky is falling!

Libtards-UNITE
Libtards-UNITE

@markb3699 She is totally cuter than Mitch.  I hope she wins, I would prefer looking at her for a few years.

BigBlueBlazes
BigBlueBlazes

@mantisdragon91 @NebuchadnezzarII  I don't recall any Rep. political ads throwing grandma off the cliff in a wheel chair like the Dems are fond of doing. lol.  Both sides push the limit but in this last election Pres. Obama's team used nothing but scare tactics and innuendos to defeat Romney.(not that Romney didn't make plenty of mistakes)  Oh well ether way I believe Mr. McConnell will win with the whole senate going toward Repubs. jmo. 

BigBlueBlazes
BigBlueBlazes

@jason024@BigBlueBlazes@mantisdragon91@NebuchadnezzarII"Both sides push the limit", is what I said. And my reply was for mantisdragon91 who said " Scaring the old folks? Isn't that a tried and true GOP tactic?"The wheel chair spot about Ryan was beyond the limit along with the spot where Romney was blamed for the death of a employee's wife. Despicable.  

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/07/01/meet-mitch-mcconnells-new-challenger-alison-lundergan-grimes/#ixzz2XtvCoss3

jason024
jason024

@BigBlueBlazes @mantisdragon91 @NebuchadnezzarII Wow...where have you been? Do you have that short of a memory? This has been our political discourse for YEARS. This is nothing new. Both the GOP and Democrats have been using scare tactics and innuendos against each other.