Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 13, 2014

RONNIE ELLIS: Grimes must shift debate to economics

FRANKFORT — Forget the polls which show Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes maintaining a small lead over incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

McConnell is winning the battle to shape the debate the way he wants. In the nearly four weeks since the primary, the conversation has been entirely about coal, Harry Reid and President Barack Obama.

Grimes can’t win that debate. It doesn’t matter that Obama will be president for two more years regardless of who wins in November. It doesn’t matter that there is no discernible difference between Grimes and McConnell on coal.

To win, Grimes must convince voters the election is about McConnell and his resistance to policies which boost the economic prospects of working families. She needs to represent herself as an alternative to congressional dysfunction.

That’s why bringing Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren to Kentucky may help. McConnell and his allies are giddy about the news, portraying Warren as “another anti-coal liberal,” a former Harvard professor who has no clue about the realities of Kentuckian’s lives.

But Warren is an effective communicator on populist themes. Despite her academic background, she’s good at framing economic issues in ways voters understand and can relate to their everyday lives. She holds populist economic positions which used to be part of Democratic orthodoxy in Kentucky.

It’s conventional wisdom McConnell converted Kentucky to a Republican state, turning once solid Democratic western Kentucky his party’s way in federal elections by exploiting its socially conservative sentiments. But it’s often overlooked that the “old” western Kentucky Democrats, while always socially conservative, were also economic populists. They favored social security and the economic development programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. But they were essentially Dixiecrats who were turned off by the Democratic Party’s leftward drift on Vietnam, social issues and civil rights.

McConnell understood that. While he was engineering a Republican takeover of the Kentucky congressional delegation McConnell tied Kentucky Democrats to more liberal national Democrats while extolling the virtues of Ronald Reagan’s economic policies and his own ability to keep federal money coming to Kentucky.

But the tea party insurgency has robbed McConnell of the last talking point. In 2008, he campaigned against Bruce Lunsford in part by touting the federal money he’d brought home. He can’t do that now and he’s criticized from both left and right for supporting the bailout of Wall Street financial giants which was necessary to prevent an economic collapse but nevertheless is resented by middle-class wage earners.

Grimes understands that. During the primary — when McConnell’s attention was on primary challenger Matt Bevin — Grimes effectively pushed measures like the minimum wage and characterized McConnell as indifferent to women’s concerns and the economic reality of his constituents’ day-to-day lives. But since McConnell has turned his full attention to Grimes and the general election, Grimes has allowed him to define the debate on coal, Reid and Obama. Instead of the minimum wage and blaming McConnell for Washington gridlock, Grimes has had to defend her support for coal and try to distance herself from Obama.

Warren can help Grimes refocus the debate on economic issues. On MSNBC the other night she attacked McConnell for blocking her bill to allow people to refinance their student loans and promised to fight back by helping Grimes defeat McConnell.

McConnell, she said, is “is there for millionaires and billionaires but he’s not there for people who are working hard and playing by the rules.” She also said Grimes’ election “could almost single-handedly get rid of some of the gridlock here in Washington.” Those are things Grimes must talk about. Warren can help her do it.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Golden Corral sends children to camp

    Ashland’s Golden Corral teamed with other restaurants across nation this year to raise $1.5 million to send a total of 3,000 children to Camp Corral.
     

    July 24, 2014

  • Burglars steal golf gear

    A couple of golf enthusiasts might not make their tee times Saturday because burglars stole golf equipment from their garages.

    July 24, 2014

  • Music instructor claims age discrimination

    The Russell Independent School District is denying allegations of a former band director who claims in a lawsuit the district discriminated against him because of his age.
     

    July 24, 2014

  • Financial blunder leads to heated board discussion

    In a surprising turn of events, City Manager Ben Bitter’s supervision authority was challenged by the Board of Commissioners after Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs filed a motion to have legal and finance department heads also report to the board in light of a financial blunder by Bitter.
    Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles and City Attorney Richard “Sonny” Martin confirmed a new ordinance will be drafted so the department heads of finance and legal counsel will be checked by the board, in addition to Bitter’s current oversight.

    July 24, 2014

  • Stricter enforcement, diagonal spots endorsed to help downtown

    A group of business owners operating along Winchester Avenue — Ashland’s main thoroughfare — asked the Ashland Board of Commissioners to replace current parallel parking spots with diagonal ones, and also for more strick enforcement of a two-hour parking law.

    July 24, 2014

  • National act takes stage at Boyd County Fair

    The Building of Dreams erupted into screams Thursday night at the 2014 Boyd County Fair, as country music fans saw Bucky Covington take the stage.
    According to Ellen Keaton, fair board president, Covington was a favorite on season five of Fox’s talent competition series American Idol.

    July 24, 2014

  • Smoke-free advocates bound for Ashland

    Advocates for smoke-free public spaces are touring the state, starting in Ashland, to drum up support for anti-tobacco legislation they hope to pass next year.
    Smoke-Free Kentucky is a coalition of organizations and people who support a ban on smoking in all public and work places in Kentucky.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ohio State Band Direc_Mayn.jpg Ohio State marching band chief fired after probe

    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday after determining he ignored a "sexualized" culture of rituals including students being pressured to march in their underwear and participate in sexually themed stunts.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Grimes has pep rally before energetic Democrats

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes was preaching to the Democratic choir Thursday night at the Wendell Ford Dinner attended by about 700 here.

    July 24, 2014

  • Commissioners challenge city manager’s authority

    In a surprising turn of events, City Manager Ben Bitter’s supervision authority was challenged by the Board of Commissioners after Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs filed a motion to have legal and finance department heads also report to the board in light of a financial blunder by Bitter.

    July 24, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone