2014 Kentucky Senate race

Politics
2:29 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Senator Mitch McConnell Hauls in $2.3 Million for Re-Election

In Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, the campaign to re-elect Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced Friday it raised $2.3 million in the past three months.

This represents McConnell's strongest quarter to date as the incumbent seeks a sixth term in office. 

Overall McConnell has garnered a total of $17.7 million towards next year's election and will report just under $10 million in cash on hand.

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Politics
8:00 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Matt Bevin Fails to Receive Boone County GOP Nod

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin
Credit foxnews.com

Despite U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin's pleas for members to vote their "conscience" the Republican Party of Boone County, Ky. bypassed endorsing the political newcomer over incumbent Mitch McConnell in next year's primary.

Bevin supporters had been hopeful the Northern Kentucky group would give his campaign a needed boost in an area that is considered a Tea Party stronghold.

McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton also attended the meeting and warned members that weighing in would be a "poor mistake" as a county party.

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Politics
5:12 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Shutdown Hurting Mitch McConnell's Approval Rating as Matt Bevin Seeks Key Endorsement

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,
Credit File photo

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's popularity is taking a dive due to the government shutdown, according to a new Gallup survey released Thursday.

The new figures comes as McConnell's GOP primary challenger Matt Bevin is vying to gain the support of a key political organization in Northern Kentucky this week.

Overall, Gallup finds McConnell's net approvals are down by 12 percentage points since Congress failed pass a spending bill to keep federal services and programs running.

From Gallup:

The Republican congressional leaders, Boehner and McConnell, appear to have taken a slightly larger hit from the shutdown than the Democratic congressional leaders Reid and Pelosi, as well as President Obama, given slightly larger declines in the Republicans' net favorables.

(SNIP)

Republicans and Democrats don't agree on much, but both groups now view Republican leaders Boehner and McConnell significantly more negatively than before the shutdown. Their net favorable ratings have declined between 13 and 19 points among the party groups.

Save House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, all of the major leaders in Washington are suffering from poor approval ratings as the shutdown continues.

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Politics
12:36 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Alison Lundergan Grimes Says Mitch McConnell is 'Missing in Action' on Shutdown Negotiations

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Calling the looming government shutdown a "reckless Republican" strategy, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is accusing incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of watching from the sidelines.

The budget impasse in Washington is expected to continue when the Democratic-controlled Senate rejects a House measure this afternoon.

If a deal isn't reached the federal government will close on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m.

At issue is implementation of President Obama's health care law, which Republican want to delay for one year. But that is considered a non-starter in the Senate and for the Obama administration.

In the meantime, the Grimes campaign is going on the offensive against McConnell by highlighting how a shutdown would impact Kentucky.

The news release points out a shutdown would close centers for 16,000 children who attend Head Start, delay payments for U.S. military service members and furlough 25,000 federal employees in the state.

Grimes says McConnell needs to be more involved in the negotiations while reminding supporters about the GOP leadership's split with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

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Politics
6:12 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Alison Lundergan Grimes Pressured Over New Sexual Harassment Claims in Kentucky Legislature

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes
Credit Creative Commons

Saying Alison Lundergan Grimes needs to prove her commitment to women, the chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky is challenging the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate to join a call to investigate new sexual harassment allegations in the state legislature.

As The Courier-Journal's Joe Gerth reports, Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, is asking for a probe to examine the decision-making by Democratic House leadership.

At issue is House Speaker Greg Stumbo's office ordering the transfer of a female staffer who complained about the behavior of a Democratic lawmaker.

From The C-J:

Legislative Research Commission employee Nicole Cusic said that after she complained to state Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, about his behavior in 2012 — she alleges he tried to date interns and made inappropriate statements about another staff member — LRC officials moved her out of a suite of offices where Coursey worked to a temporary desk.

Coursey has denied the allegations, but Stein told the newspaper there is "a bad smell, a noxious smell" in the House and a need to regain the public's trust.

In response, the state GOP is pressuring Grimes—who has continually criticized Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell's voting record on women's issues—to speak up.

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Politics
4:25 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Dwindling Tea Party Support Among GOP May Impact Matt Bevin's Insurgency

Credit Tim Pierce/Creative Commons

A new poll finds fewer Americans support the Tea Party movement and the noticeable dip among Republican voters could impact Kentucky’s U.S. Senate GOP primary race.

According to a Gallup survey conducted earlier this month, opponents of the Tea Party outnumber supporters by a 27 percent to 22 percent.

Most are indifferent to the movement, but the poll shows the Tea Party's favorable rating among GOP voters is 38 percent compared to 65 percent in 2010.

Those numbers could put a damper on Louisville businessman Matt Bevin's primary hopes as he seeks to overthrow incumbent Mitch McConnell with heavy Tea Party support in the state.

Observers say the low approval numbers are a sign the Tea Party is being blamed for the gridlock in Washington in the face of a possible government shutdown.

"It's so much easier to rail against the establishment, people like that when you show enthusiasm and energy," says University of Louisville political science professor Dewey Clayton. "But once you become the establishment and you actually have to govern things change somewhat. One of the reasons the Tea Party is falling out of favor with many Americans is because people are seeing them as part of problem in Washington now."

Clayton says it's hard to compare Bevin's 2014 bid to Rand Paul's insurgency GOP primary candidacy for a number of reasons, but says the Tea Party doesn't appear to have the same strength it did in 2010.

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Politics
7:30 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Trivial Attacks Mark Kentucky's U.S. Senate Race

Credit File photos

When it comes to the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Kentucky, there appears to be no attack that the top campaigns and their operatives won't engage or levy at each other.

The Republican primary contest between incumbent Mitch McConnell and challenger Matt Bevin has been particularly bitter.

At the outset, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton referred to Bevin as a "con man" who couldn't be trusted. 

Despite efforts to urge the media to ignore Bevin, Team Mitch rarely passes up a chance to take a swipe at their primary opponent. For instance, the McConnell campaign was recently touting this rather embarrassing moment for Bevin at a Constitution Day event in Kentucky.

Watch:

Speaking at a rally in downtown Louisville, Bevin ripped Benton for saying it was "irrelevant" that McConnell didn't join Ted Cruz's marathon speech on the Senate floor.

Here's what Benton told talk radio host Joe Elliott:

A passing remark? Not according to the Bevin campaign.

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Politics
2:13 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Matt Bevin Praises Ted Cruz, Slams Mitch McConnell on Defunding Obamacare Fight

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin joins a rally by Tea Party activists outside Mitch McConnell's office
Credit Phillip M. Bailey

A group of Tea Party and conservative activists rallied outside of Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Louisville office, calling for the defunding of the president’s health care law.

Joined by U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin, over a dozen demonstrators spoke in support of Republican Ted Cruz of Texas, who held a nearly 24-hour marathon talk on the Senate floor to oppose the Affordable Care Act.

But McConnell disagreed with Cruz's tactic to block a federal spending bill that takes out funding Obamacare in order to keep Senate Democrats from amending the measure.

Instead, McConnell supports having a majority vote to defund the health care law while pressuring Democrats to join the GOP caucus.

Saying the GOP establishment needs to do more those rallying in downtown Louisville took McConnell's leadership to task, however.

"I can’t understand why Mitch McConnell won’t wake up and realize that (Obama) is trying to destroy us and destroy Kentucky. He’s the mouthpiece that not only we have but he represents the Republican Party in all of the United States right now," says Dan Johnson, a bishop at Heart of Fire Church in Louisville. "And if he don’t get off of his butt and get up and do what’s right, if he has any heart for the American people he will not fund Obamcare. It's time to defund Obamacare, it's time America is heard and this needs to end today."

The tactical disagreement in the GOP has been a divisive fight that was brought more to the surface by Cruz, who implicitly criticized leaders in both parties for not heeding the public's apprehensions about the health care law.

McConnell is maintaining Republican senators are united against funding the health care law, and would much rather talk about the Democrats.

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Politics
12:34 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Urging Senate Democrats to Join Defund Obamacare Fight, McConnell Rejects Cruz's Plan

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,
Credit File photo

Speaking on the Senate floor, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell cut ties with Sen. Ted Cruz's threat to use a filibuster against a bill with language defunding the president's health care law.

Facing increasing criticism from conservative groups and a primary opponent, McConnell argued Senate Democrats need to join the effort in order to take out funding for Obamacare while avoiding a government shutdown.

"I just don’t happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare," McConnell said. "All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded. And none of us want that."

The House passed a spending measure to fund the federal government past Oct. 1, but it does not pay for the Affordable Care Act.

Cruz is urging the GOP caucus to vote against that legislation because Democrats have indicated they will amend it to restore the health care law's funding. He argues any vote to bring the bill to the Senate floor is in effective supporting Obamacare as a whole.

Rather than focus on GOP infighting, McConnell proposed Democrats ought to join the effort to defund the law by having a simple majority vote on the House bill.

"Democrats have been hearing the same complaints about Obamacare the rest of us have. The spotlight should really be on them. This is a rare opportunity to defund the law with a simple majority. We should have that vote," he said.

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Politics
7:30 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Ky. Environmentalists Want Alison Lundergan Grimes to Address Energy Future Beyond Coal

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes

In Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, environmentalists says there's little to distinguish Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes from Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell on coal.

But activists say what they're most disappointed about is Grimes hasn't outlined an agenda that speaks to the future of Kentucky's economy or the country's energy needs.

Ahead of new federal rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the Grimes campaign presented a decidedly pro-coal message by scolding the Obama administration.

When the Environmental Protection Agency released those proposed standards last week, Grimes reiterated her disappointment, saying the regulations were "out of touch" with Kentucky's needs and would hurt middle-class families.

The Grimes campaign told WFPL the first-term secretary of state does acknowledge climate change and the effects carbon emissions have on the planet's weather patterns.

But aides quickly pivoted to emphasize what they call "unnecessary regulations" that hurt Kentuckians who rely on the coal industry to provide for their families.

"While it is important to protect the environment, it is just as important to make sure the men and women of Kentucky are able to provide for their families,"  said Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton. "As Senator, Alison will work to protect the jobs of hardworking Kentuckians in any solution to the changing climate."

A 2007 Supreme Court ruling found that greenhouse gases created by coal-fired plants are pollutants that are harmful to human health, and are thus subject to regulation.

Longtime Louisville environmental activist Sarah Lynn Cunningham says voters who care about the environment are frustrated with Grimes and that enthusiasm is already declining more than a year before Election Day.

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