The powerful pro-choice group EMILY’s List is endorsing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky’s 2014 U.S. Senate race.
The group had encouraged Grimes to get in the Senate race as early as March, and has been helping the first-term secretary of state raise money in a bid to unseat Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell next year.
In an e-mail to supporters, EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock called Grimes an “energetic rising star” who can beat McConnell.
“Mitch McConnell is one of the least liked senators in the country for a reason—he’s hopelessly out-of-touch with the needs of his state,” Schriock said. “Alison is working tirelessly to make sure that Kentuckians’ voices are being heard.”
EMILY’s List is a political action committee that works to elect Democratic women who support reproductive rights. Last year, the group raised close to $52 million and is known to have an extensive national campaign network.
Grimes has avoided hot button national topics for the most part and her campaign website doesn’t address social issues but rather focuses instead on jobs, veterans issues and protecting entitlements.
In a recent interview with The Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman, however, the 34-year-old Grimes did say she was “pro-choice down the line on abortion.”
A pure pro-choice view is a must in the Democratic Party, if for no other reason than so many women activists are motivated to vote for –- and work for -– the party because of their strong belief in that view.
Grimes clearly wants to tap the fast-growing power of women in the Democratic Party, a phenomenon with a surprisingly long history in Kentucky politics.
Kentucky is considered to be one of the more pro-life states in the country according to a Pew Research survey. A September 2012 poll conducted by the Courier-Journal found just 39 percent of likely voters in Kentucky consider themselves pro-choice while 55 percent were against abortion.
Asked about the EMILY’s List endorsement, a Grimes campaign spokeswoman bypassed reproductive rights specifically, but did emphasize the candidate’s stance on women’s issues overall.
“Alison Lundergan Grimes will be a strong voice for the women of Kentucky. Senator McConnell’s refusal to stand up for women on key issues of economic security is shameful,” says Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton. “He has voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and worked to block the Violence Against Women Act. Kentuckians know there is one candidate on their side: Alison Lundergan Grimes.”