FRANKFORT — She’s in. Alison Lundergan Grimes is going to challenge Mitch McConnell.
What must she do to win and what will her party do to help her? We know what McConnell plans to do. He’s told us.
He said Wednesday in Louisville the race will come down to two things: the issues and his influence in Washington. Then he told us what the “issues” are: Grimes is a Democrat in a Republican-trending state which doesn’t at all like Democratic President Barack Obama. That’s not quite the same as debating federal spending, the rising income gap between the rich and the rest of us, health care or foreign policy.
Despite the awkward, poorly planned press conference Grimes held Monday to announce her candidacy, she was prepared for that one. When WHAS-TV’s Joe Arnold asked where she stood on Obamacare, Grimes didn’t hesitate.
“Regardless of the vote issued in this race, we cannot change who our president is,” Grimes said. “But we can change who we have in Washington representing Kentucky.”
Grimes will almost certainly make some announcement distancing herself from Obama’s intention to deal with climate change and air pollution, what his Kentucky critics and coal interests term “Obama’s war on coal.”
But will Democratic coal field legislators like Speaker Greg Stumbo, House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins and others go to war for Grimes? Stumbo actually offered a strategy Grimes may want to think about. He pointed out that “an effective Senator” would have lobbied the president to adjust his policy to lessen the impact on Kentucky. That also implicitly undercuts McConnell’s claim that his influence benefits Kentucky.
But another coal field Democrat said it will be tough for Grimes among his constituents. “They don’t like McConnell,” he said, “but they like Obama even less.”