Mitch McConnell

Office of Sec. Grimes

A new statewide poll has good news for Kentucky’s Democratic Senate candidate.

While the general election is still nine months away, the poll shows Alison Lundergan Grimes with a four-point lead over five-term incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell.

The Bluegrass Poll was conducted for four Louisville and Lexington news outlets by Survey USA. It shows 46 percent of respondents favored Grimes in a matchup with Senator McConnell, while 42 percent supported the GOP incumbent.

The poll also reveals McConnell received just a 27-percent favorability rating. He still faces a primary battle against Republican Matt Bevin, who trails McConnell in the poll by 26 points.

Despite the poll results, McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore says the campaign is “very comfortable about where this race stands.” Grimes said she is “humbled” by the numbers.

Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator is expressing doubts on the prospects of major immigration law overhaul this year.

Republican Mitch McConnell told reporters he doesn’t believe House and Senate leaders will be able to overcome their differences. Senator McConnell describes the differences between the House and Senate as an “irresolvable conflict.” The website Politico reports the Louisville Republican says the problem isn’t specific policy differences between the two chambers, but rather how each side wants to move forward procedurally.

Some Senate Democrats have said they want to tackle immigration overhaul in a comprehensive fashion, by putting all changes in one massive bill.

House Republicans have spoken in support of taking on the issue step-by-step, and passing several smaller bills along the way. While President Obama and some Congressional Democrats have recently indicated they’d be willing to look at piecemeal reform, McConnell says the gulf between the two parties is too great to get reform passed this year.

McConnell is facing a Senate primary challenge this spring by Tea Party activist Matt Bevin, who says he’s opposed to any measure that offers amnesty to illegal immigrants in the U.S.

Grimes Pushes Higher Minimum Wage

Feb 4, 2014

Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes says increasing the federal minimum wage would be at the top of her agenda if she's elected to the U.S. Senate. 

Grimes said in a release that a higher minimum wage would raise the income and spending power for tens of thousands of Kentucky families.

The issue presents a stark contrast between Grimes and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who is seeking a sixth term this year.

McConnell says a higher minimum wage would force businesses to reduce jobs.

A Democratic push to boost the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is seen as a long shot in Congress this year. President Barack Obama made a push for the increase in his State of the Union speech.

Grimes is the Democratic front-runner for the seat held by McConnell.

A national conservative organization is endorsing the Tea Party challenger in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.

FreedomWorks says it will invest as much as $500,000 to help Matt Bevin defeat Senator Mitch McConnell in this year’s Republican primary. FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe was quoted by the Courier-Journal as saying his group believes Bevin is “an exceptional candidate” who has support from grassroots conservative activists across the commonwealth.

FreedomWorks champions candidates who say they want smaller government, and has earned a reputation for not being afraid to challenge established GOP lawmakers.

Bevin, a Louisville businessman and Tea Party activist, has attacked McConnell as a Washington insider who has betrayed conservatives by repeatedly voting to increase the debt ceiling.

McConnell has said he is confident he will win the GOP primary, and has a huge fundraising advantage over Bevin.

A national conservative group is opening five field offices in Kentucky in an effort to help Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin defeat incumbent U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in the May primary election. 

The Madison Project will staff Get Out the Vote offices in Louisville, Florence, Owensboro, Glasgow, and Bowling Green.  In an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, the group’s political director Drew Ryun said those cities have traditionally been strongholds for Senator McConnell. 

Acknowledging that McConnell will have a powerful financial advantage over the Tea Party’s Matt Bevin, the PAC says it will rely more on a ground game.  The Madison Project played in a role in Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s upset win in 2012. 

A McConnell spokesperson the PAC had a failing strategy if its plan was to attack the five-term incumbent.

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator says any extension of long-term unemployment benefits must be paid for by cutting spending elsewhere.

Long-term unemployment compensation expired on December 28. Sixty Senators, mostly Democrats, voted Tuesday to open debate on legislation that would extend the program for three months.

Kentucky Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul voted against the procedure. In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell said the Obama administration hasn’t done enough to improve the job prospects of those looking for work.

"Yes, we should work on solutions to support those who are out of work through no fault of their own. But there is no excuse to pass unemployment insurance legislation without also finding ways to create good, stable, high-paying jobs--and also trying to find the money to pay for it," Sen. McConnell said Tuesday.

A conservative group is planning to blanket Kentucky in coming weeks with TV ads defending Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. The ad buy will also link McConnell with his fellow Kentucky Republican, Rand Paul.

The website Politico says it’s learned that the nonprofit group Kentucky Opportunity Coalition will spend nearly $400,000 over the next week on the ads. According to a script shared with Politico, the ad will tell viewers that Senators McConnell and Paul are “working together to stop Obamacare.”

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is a 501 (c) (4) group aligned with the SuperPAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. That group has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on commercials attacking Kentucky Senate Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Democratic groups have also jumped into the fray, with Senate Majority PAC and the group Patriot Money labeling McConnell as an obstructionist who should be retired from office after nearly three decades in the U.S. Senate.

The Federal Election Commission says the re-election campaign of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell accepted “apparent excessive contributions” from a dozen individuals and seven political action committees. The claims were made in a preliminary review of the campaign’s disclosure report covering the months of July, August, and September.

The Courier-Journal reports the FEC has told the McConnell campaign that the contributions in question appear to exceed the legal limits.

Under campaign finance law, an individual can give up to $2,600 per election, meaning a person could actually give $5,200 to campaign, with half designated for the primary, and the other half going to the general election.

In each of the dozen cases involving individuals cited by the FEC, the contributors gave the McConnell campaign multiple donations dating back as far as 2009. The most recent donations made last quarter pushed those contributors over the legal limit.

Some of the political action committees cited by the FEC as having made excessive donations include those run by the American Health Care Association, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, and Clear Channel.

You can read the FEC letter sent to the McConnell re-election campaign here.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is more than a little aggravated with the Senate Conservatives Fund, and who can blame him.

The youngish but well-financed Tea Party organization has targeted McConnell, a five-termer from Kentucky and highest-ranking Senate Republican, by helping to bankroll a primary challenger and using the race as an intraparty, us vs. them proxy.

Another high-ranking Kentucky Republican lawmaker is predicting that there won’t be a government shutdown in January.

In an interview in his Washington office, Somerset Republican Congressman Hal Rogers told the Courier-Journal “if we don’t do something, there will be a shutdown, but we’re going to do everything possible to avoid it.”

Kentucky’s Fifth District Representative joins Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in calling on Congress to make sure there is not a repeat of the shutdown that closed the federal government for 16 days in October. The shutdown ended when a stopgap spending plan was passed that funds the government until January 15.

Congressman Rogers and his Democratic counterpart are asking a special budget conference group to send them overall government spending numbers by Thanksgiving, in order to expedite the process of creating a new spending plan.

Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has bagged an award from the powerful National Rifle Association, giving him bragging rights for his re-election bid next year in a state where hunting is a tradition. The Republican's opponents are defending their own gun-rights stands in the campaign cross-fire.

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes points to her NRA membership and says she'd welcome McConnell to shoot with her at a gun range.
 
McConnell didn't respond to a reporter's question Friday asking if he'd take Grimes up on her offer.

Tennessee Valley Authority

Democrat Alison Grimes has joined Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in urging the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep a coal-fired generating plant operating in Muhlenberg County.

Grimes, who is running for McConnell's Senate seat, said in a statement that an upgrade would bring the Paradise Fossil Plant at Drakesboro into compliance with federal standards, while closure would have a devastating economic impact.

McConnell met with Tennessee Valley Authority President William Johnson last week to seek continued operation of the generating plant. TVA is considering whether it should add new emission controls to two coal-fired units that date back to the late 1950s, build a new generating plant powered by natural gas, or take no action.

TVA said in a statement last week that officials are "evaluating all options."

Re-election trouble is brewing for longtime Republican senators in deep-red states, from South Carolina to Wyoming. And the trouble is from within.

The GOP's restive Tea Party and libertarian wings, energized by their titular leader, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and funded in part by starve-government groups like the Club for Growth, are waging 2014 Senate primary challenges in six states — and counting.

With a deal to end the debt ceiling debate and ongoing government shutdown apparently in place, a well-respected political column lists both of Kentucky’s Republican Senators as “winners” following the extended drama.

The Washington Post’s political column, “The Fix”, says both Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul come out of the battle stronger than when it began. Post reporter Chris Cillizza says Paul benefited from appearing moderate compared to another Tea Party-backed Republican Senator, Ted Cruz. Both Cruz and Paul are believed to be strongly considering 2016 presidential runs, and both would try to capture much of the same electorate.

Cillizza says that by not leading the charge against the GOP establishment, Paul could come across as a kind of hybrid Tea Party candidate with at least some establishment backing.

Senator McConnell is once again being seen as one of the preeminent dealmakers in Washington, playing a central role at the end to come up with a deal after staying in the background during much of the debate.

McConnell Adds Nearly $2.3M to Campaign Account

Oct 11, 2013

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has banked nearly $2.3 million since July, pushing his overall fundraising total to $17.7 million for the election cycle.  Campaign manager Jesse Benton said Friday the numbers reflect McConnell's strongest quarter to date for fundraising.

McConnell is facing challenges from Democratic front-runner Alison Lundergan Grimes. He also has a primary opponent, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin. Neither of the two have yet released their fundraising totals.

McConnell's campaign said that he received donations from about 6,000 donors. Benton said the McConnell campaign will report nearly $10 million cash on hand.

McConnell is seeking re-election next year to a sixth term.

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