Joined by an overwhelming crowd, Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes told supporters in Louisville she will protect the state’s interests against either political party.
“I’m hoping that you will spread the word all across not just Jefferson County—but the Commonwealth of Kentucky—that this woman, well she’s not an empty dress, she’s not a cheerleader, she’s not a rubber stamp,” Grimes said at her campaign office opening Monday.
“She’s an independent Kentucky woman that stands on her own two feet.”
That message is aimed at general election voters even before the primary is over.
Grimes is running against fellow Democrats Greg Leichty, Tom Recktenwald, and Burrell Charles Farnsley in Tuesday’s election, but she is considered the easy favorite in that contest.
Independence is also an attempt by Grimes to counter a narrative by pro-Mitch McConnell groups, which plan to launch $4.7 million in TV ads beginning this week. Those super PACs and non-profits allied with McConnell have tied Grimes to national Democrats before, and their next round of ads appear to be a repeat of that strategy.
The ads are expected to focus on Grimes’ relationship with national Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, both of whom are polarizing and unpopular figures in conservative-leaning Kentucky.
A newly released poll shows four times as many Kentucky voters blame Democrats over Republicans for the country’s problems. About half blame both parties, according to the Bluegrass Poll.
President Obama’s favorable rating is at a toxic 29 percent in the state and Grimes has tried to distance herself from his agenda, especially on the environment with her pro-coal positions.
In a letter to Stanford University, Grimes blasted school officials for divesting in coal-related stocks and said it was setting a “poor standard indeed for national good citizenship.” Republicans dismissed the message, noting that Grimes sent it three days after raising money in San Francisco among anti-coal donors.
During the Louisville campaign stop, Grimes didn’t mention coal specifically. Instead she issued a veiled warning to the national party when saying she’d work with anyone who wants to move the state forward.
“But make no mistake, you seek to undermine what is best about this state—our people, the jobs that we need—and you will have no fiercer opponent than Alison Lundergan Grimes regardless of your political party,” she says.
Polls have shown a McConnell-Grimes contest is a virtual tie.