Clayton: ‘A Lot at Stake’ as Mitch McConnell, Alison Lundergan Grimes, Matt Bevin do Fancy Farm

Mitch McConnell has been in the U.S. Senate since 1985, but he’ll face something new on Saturday—challengers from all sides in a single place.

The Fancy Farm Picnic will bring the Senate Republican leader together to speak at the same venue as primary challenger Matt Bevin and Democratic candidates, most prominently Alison Lundergan Grimes.

“I think clearly he’s going to be in an usual situation in that he’s going to be getting criticism from someone in his own party, as well as someone from the opposition,” said Dewey Clayton, a professor of political science at the University of Louisville.

“I’m not sure he can probably handle it, but it’s still going to put him in a unique situation. So everyone’s going to be wondering just how this is going to play out.”

The senate election doesn’t happen until November 2014. The primary will be this spring. That’s a bit of time.

Fancy Farm will feature McConnell and a pair of prominent challengers getting a chance to speak on a prominent stage early in the race.

“The dynamic here is somewhat different than it’s been in the past—you’ve got a lot of people that have a lot at stake here,” Clayton said, referring to recent Fancy Farms.

Fancy Farms of recent past haven’t had too, too many fireworks, Clayton said. He expects Saturday’s to be different.

Clayton said he doesn’t believe the the Bevin challenge, which has support from some Tea Party groups, will change McConnell’s campaign tactics—at least not this early on, not for Fancy Farm.

“He knows what has worked for him in the past and what has gotten him the Republican nomination for all these years and ultimately elected, so I don’t see him really sort of deviating from that,” Clayton said.

And Bevin and Grimes? Clayton expects them both to attack.

For Bevin, Clayton said:  “He needs to hammer home that particular message and make the case that he is the true conservative in the race to the Republican Party. I think that’s what his task is: Basically to sort of let the Republican Party know he is an alternative; he is a viable alternative and his the one who will represent the true values of conservatives in the state of Kentucky.”

For Grimes, Clayton said: “I think she’s got a huge opportunity here. Although she is being painted as someone being aligned with President Obama, I think she’s got a real opportunity here to sort of not necessarily even go there. She doesn’t necessarily have to embrace President Obama as such, but basically let people in Kentucky know that she is an alternative and she believes in values of Kentucky, but she also believes in sending someone to Washington who is willing to work to get things done.”

WFPL will have reporters at Fancy Farm Saturday. Stay tuned for coverage at WFPL.org.

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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