Putting more focus on the gender gap in Kentucky’s Senate race, Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes received the endorsement of pay equity advocate Lilly Ledbetter in next year’s election.
Ledbetter is considered an iconic figure for being the plaintiff in a well-known wage discrimination lawsuit against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
She is the namesake of the Fair Pay Act, which is the first bill President Obama signed into law that extended the statute of limitations for when employees could file such claims.
In a fundraising e-mail, Ledebtter scolds Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell for what she describes as a “horrendous” voting record on women’s issues.
“After my lengthy battle with pay inequity, I was honored and humbled to lend my name to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—landmark legislation that makes it easier for women to file pay discrimination lawsuits. But this is only an important first step in closing the gender wage gap. Yet, Senator McConnell voted against it. Time and again, McConnell has made clear where he stands on issues important to women and their families: in the wrong. “
McConnell twice voted against the Ledbetter law along with opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act and Violence Against Women Act.
The Ledbetter endorsement comes a week after Grimes’s campaign pounded a national Republican group for a “sexualized” Tweet comparing the Democratic challenger to the Obama girl model.
Those mistakes have put further attention on McConnell’s votes on women’s issues and relationship with female voters. National and state observers have noted Team Mitch’s problems with attacking a vibrant female opponent.
“Alison Lundergan Grimes continues to prove that she is far more concerned with raking in the fundraising cash and gallivanting around Hollywood bragging about how she would be another ‘yes’ vote for implementing their liberal agenda than she is with actually helping women,” McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore told WFPL News.
In September, it was reported Grimes led McConnell by 12 points among women voters in a Public Policy Polling survey. The same poll shows McConnell leading Grimes 51 to 40 percent among men.
On the campaign trail, however, Grimes is quick to remind Kentuckians she would be the first female senator in the state’s history and her camp pounces on any hint of sexism from GOP operatives.
McConnell has said this shows Grimes wants to divide voters along gender lines, but for now, the best pivot his team offers appears to be reminding voters that Grimes ignored a sexual harassment controversy involving Democratic lawmakers in the Kentucky legislature.
“If Alison Lundergan Grimes truly cared about women, then she would have at the very least spoke out against her colleague in Frankfort who was sexually assaulting women in her own workplace and she would speak out against Obamacare, which is causing thousands of Kentucky women and their families to lose their healthcare,” says Moore. “It’s a shame that Alison will exploit women as the centerpiece of her campaign, but will not give the time of day to the real women who are reaching out for her help.”