Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes are vying for top gun in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.
The McConnell campaign launched its “Sportsmen for Team Mitch” coalition on Friday to coincide with deer hunting season and to flaunt his support of the Second Amendment.
Praised by hunting groups and gun rights advocates, McConnell was also presented with a “Defender of Freedom” award by the National Rifle Association at the event.
“The liberal establishment in Washington doesn’t understand Kentucky values and it doesn’t want to,” McConnell said in a statement. “That’s why I’ve been one of the biggest champions of protecting our constitutional Right to Bear Arms, defending Kentucky’s hunting grounds and passing legislation to allow Kentucky sportsmen the Freedom to Fish. So as long as Washington attacks our heritage, I’ll fight back.”
McConnell has stood firm against proposed firearm regulations even in the face of calls for serious reforms in response to mass shootings.
Rather than back down the senator’s re-election team warned supporters that the Obama administration was “coming for your guns” almost immediately after Democrats announced their intentions.
In response to the McConnell campaign event, Grimes invited the senator to join her on the gun range at a family farm in Northern Kentucky.
“As an NRA member, my strong support for the Second Amendment is unquestioned,” says Grimes. “I am proud of Kentucky’s long-held gun ownership, sporting and hunting traditions. It is unfortunate that Senator McConnell is desperate to mislead Kentucky voters about my strong support for the Second Amendment. In the Senate, I will protect my fellow Kentuckians’ right to keep and bear arms. Whenever he’s not busy pandering to Washington lobbyists, I welcome Senator McConnell to come shoot with me at the range any day.”
The Grimes campaign also wanted to showcase their candidate’s love of guns, and released this photo:
In April, Senate Republicans were able to defeat a measure putting stricter regulations on gun purchases in the aftermath of the Newtown elementary school massacre.
Since then, little gun control efforts have come out of the Democratic caucus even though the country has seen more mass shooting incidents.
However, like many Democrats running in more conservative pro-gun states, Grimes is hoping to downplay that contrast with McConnell by literally flexing her own gun right’s muscles.