Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 19, 2013

RONNIE ELLIS: State politics matching outside heat

LOUISVILLE — The suffocating heat and humidity of a Kentucky summer that has settled on the commonwealth this week was accompanied by some hot political developments.

So while you’re fleeing the oppressive weather, here are some things to ponder.

Alison Lundergan Grimes distanced herself from Barack Obama’s coal policies this week. She told reporters Obama has “overreached” on coal regulations and that she supports Kentucky’s miners.

That didn’t prevent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell from placing Grimes’ photo next to Obama’s in a web video entitled Kentucky Powers America. It has plenty of images of hard-working Kentucky families and miners while the senator says Obama “and his allies” have declared war on coal.

Kentucky Coal Association Bill Bissett told CNHI News last week the coal industry and the families who depend on it for a living will be watching and listening closely as Grimes tries to navigate the coal issue.

While Grimes told reporters she supports Kentucky’s coal industry, a Harlan County magistrate, David Kennedy, stood nearby listening intently. Kennedy, a coal supporter first and Democrat second, said he was pleased with Grimes’ answers and would say so when he gets back home. But a Republican county official from the same region, who didn’t want to be quoted by name, said any Democrat will have a hard time separating himself from Obama’s coal policies with voters in the coal fields.

McConnell says Kentucky voters would be unwise to trade his “influence” and position as Senate Republican Leader for a backbench freshman. But he suffered a hit to that image with a deal brokered in Washington last week by Republican Sen. John McCain which allowed votes on seven Obama executive branch nominees.

McConnell claimed he was kept abreast of negotiations with Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer. Reid was threatening to invoke the “nuclear option” on the filibuster of those nominees by changing Senate rules to require only 51 votes to confirm them.

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