Mitch McConnell

While many on the left embraced the Environmental Protection Agency's new rules to reduce coal-burning power plant carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, some red state Democrats couldn't put enough distance between themselves and the Obama administration.

You would have had a tough time, for instance, distinguishing the reaction of Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes from that of the man she hopes to replace, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate's top Republican.

Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

Both of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidates are denouncing new federal guidelines related to greenhouse gas emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that power plants will have to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by the year 2030.

While Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes have exchanged harsh words about who is best to represent the commonwealth in Washington, they both believe the EPA’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants represent a federal overreach that will harm Kentucky’s economy.

Calling it a “national energy tax” imposed by the Obama Administration, Sen. McConnell said he will introduce legislation to block the new rules.

In a statement released to the media Monday by McConnell’s office, the Louisville Republican said the EPA regulations would lead to “higher costs, fewer jobs, and a less reliable energy grid.”

Paul Not Sure What Would Happen To State Exchange

May 30, 2014
WKU Public Radio

If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said he did not know what would happen to the 413,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through the state's health exchange.

The Republican senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate told reporters Friday he favors repealing all of the federal Affordable Care Act. But he acknowledged there is no easy answer to what would happen to those who are insured through the state exchange, which was made possible by the federal law.

Paul's comments come after fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said last week he thought the state's health exchange was unconnected to the Affordable Care Act. McConnell later said state officials would determine the fate of the exchange.

Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

A group that advocates for greater government transparency is challenging Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidates to limit ads purchased by outside groups.

The Herald-Leader reports that Common Cause of Kentucky sent letters this week to the campaigns of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, asking them to sign a pledge aimed at limiting outside spending on the Senate race.

Under what the group calls the People’s Pledge, a candidate would agree to give to charity half of the cost of any ad bought by outside groups during the campaign. Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst told the paper that Grimes has previously called for both campaigns to sign the pledge.

The McConnell campaign had not commented on the request by Common Cause of Kentucky as of Wednesday afternoon.

Kentucky’s Senate race will be one of the most closely-watched races in the country, with some analysts predicting it will also be the most expensive Senate race in history.

Paul Urges Kentucky GOP To Rally Around McConnell

May 23, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul is calling for Republicans across Kentucky to support Sen. Mitch McConnell in his campaign against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
 
The first-term senator, considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, said Friday that a vote for Grimes would be a vote for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his policy of advancing President Barack Obama's agenda.
 
McConnell says he has not spoken to Matt Bevin since defeating him in Tuesday's Republican primary. But he says he was not worried about losing Republican votes in the general election.

Grimes released an open letter to Bevin's supporters on Friday saying McConnell will lie about her in campaign ads just as he lied about Bevin. She urged them to get to know her and her true positions.

WKU PBS

Several right-wing groups that backed the Tea Party challenger against Senator Mitch McConnell have announced they will now support the Senate Minority Leader. The news represents the kind of unity that is important for McConnell as he takes on Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

With the primary now in the rearview mirror, both the McConnell and Grimes campaigns can now focus 100 percent of their attention on winning the November general election.

For McConnell, one of the top items on his campaign’s to-do list is repairing relationships with Tea Party and conservative groups that backed his primary opponent, Matt Bevin. Those efforts are already bearing fruit, as Politico reports the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project, and FreedomWorks have said they will support McConnell in his re-election effort.

Several of the groups took credit for moving McConnell to the right during his primary campaign.

Abbey Oldham

With Tuesday’s U.S. Senate primary now behind them, Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes can now invest 100 percent of their time, effort, and money into the November 4 general election.

Sen. McConnell beat Tea Party activist and Louisville businessman Matt Bevin in the GOP primary by about 25 points, and Grimes easily won her party’s contest.

While he ultimately lost, Bevin’s candidacy exposed divisions within the Kentucky Republican Party that Democrats hope will benefit them in the fall.

A great deal of attention is now going to be paid to efforts by the McConnell campaign and its supporters to heal any lingering wounds between so-called “establishment” Republicans and Tea Partiers. At rallies across Kentucky in recent months, Tea Party supporters have assailed the Senate Minority Leader as someone who talks like a conservative while in the commonwealth, but votes with liberals when in Washington.

Bobby Alexander, with the Central Kentucky Tea Party Patriots, told WKU Public Radio at a recent rally in Elizabethtown that McConnell has forgotten what it means to be a Republican.

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. Primary races are picking up ahead of the midterm elections this fall. On Tuesday, voters in six states will go to the polls, making it one of the most important primary election days of the year.

Among the races to watch is a Tea Party challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. To give us a lay of the land is NPR political editor Charlie Mahtesian. Charlie, welcome to the program.

CHARLES MAHTESIAN, BYLINE: Hi, Lynn.

While establishment Republicans may still rule the day, the Tea Party is bent on taking down the king, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. 

The five-term incumbent is waging two wars to hang on to his seat. The first battle, culminating on May 20, has McConnell in a primary contest with Louisville businessman Matt Bevin. Hoping he doesn’t survive to fight in the general election, Tea Party groups across Kentucky are rallying the troops ahead of the May 20 primary.

“When was the last time you saw a town hall here in Kentucky with Senator McConnell where he actually answered questions? He shows up at Lincoln Day dinners, gives his speech, and leaves," asserts Scott Hofstra with the United Kentucky Tea Party. "He’s not accountable to us and doesn’t want to be. We deserve better.”

Hofstra spoke recently in Elizabethtown to a group called the Central Kentucky Tea Party Patriots, a mix of mostly blue collar workers and retirees. 

National Tea Party groups are mostly split in their support of McConnell and Bevin, but state and local groups are mostly rallying around Bevin, someone they call a “true conservative,” who they think can take the GOP back to its roots.

Kevin Willis

A new poll shows Kentucky’s incumbent U.S. Senator coasting to victory against his Republican primary challenger.

But that same poll shows a dead-heat between Sen. Mitch McConnell and presumptive Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The NBC News-Marist poll shows Senator McConnell with a lead of 57-25 percent over his primary challenger, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin. Things are much tighter for the fall general election, however, with the poll showing McConnell with just a 46-45 percent lead over Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Sen. McConnell faces low approval numbers in the new poll, with 46 percent of registered voters saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing, while 41 percent say they approve.

Far fewer voters have formed an opinion about Secretary Grimes, with 27 percent of those surveyed saying they’re unsure, and another 10 percent who say they’ve never heard of her.

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