Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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May 8, 2014

Grimes, McConnell gearing up for battle

FRANKFORT — One day before she begins a 50-county bus tour leading to the May 20 primary, Alison Lundergan Grimes went on the air with her first television commercial.

The Democratic Secretary of State is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mitch McConnell who has been on the air for nearly a year.

Meanwhile, McConnell announced Thursday he raised another $1.07 million for his campaign in April and retains more than $10 million in cash on hand.

The Grimes ad is a positive one, seeking to capitalize on her 2013 bill in the General Assembly to make it easier for military personnel from Kentucky stationed overseas to cast absentee ballots. She pushed the bill after joining other selected state secretaries of state on a tour of Middle East military outposts.

“After she met with our military in the Middle East,” says a female narrator, “Alison Lundergan Grimes came home and brought Democrats and Republicans together to pass a law ensuring that every military vote would be counted.”

That statement glosses over Grimes’ inability to pass the bill as originally drafted. She wanted soldiers to be allowed to request ballots by email and then also cast votes electronically. Some county clerks objected, fearing they couldn’t ensure the integrity of such votes, and the Republican Senate amended the bill to allow ballots to be requested by email but returned by regular mail.

The ad features Lyne Dickey, a mother of a soldier from Paducah who fought in the Middle East.

“I almost lost my son in Iraq but what upset him most was his ballot being lost in battle,” Dickey says as images of combat soldiers appear. “Because of Alison, that will never happen again.” She concludes by saying, “Washington should work this way,” emphasizing Grimes’ attempt to portray herself as a Kentucky candidate as she hammers McConnell for being part of the Washington “dysfunction.”

McConnell may have a primary challenger, but he doesn’t seem to view Matt Bevin as much of a threat 11 days before the primary. McConnell is running an ad that doesn’t mention Bevin, appearing instead to focus on general election voters.

It also is a response to criticism he received for an awkward answer he gave to Beattyville Enterprise Editor and General Manager Edmund Shelby. When Shelby asked McConnell what he was doing to bring jobs to Lee County, McConnell said that was the responsibility of the state commerce department, not a U.S. Senator’s.

A female narrator begins the ad by saying, “He’s been called a hero for saving Kentucky jobs.” She says McConnell “fought against unfair foreign trade” and worked to spare the Bluegrass Army Depot by stopping “a budget shortfall from hurting hundreds of working families.”

McConnell, however, supports the automatic sequester cuts negotiated a couple of years ago in a budget agreement, often touting the sequester’s role in reducing federal spending.

The narrator goes on to say McConnell fought “government regulations from crushing the tourism industry” in the Lake Cumberland region and “helped save 2,800 jobs at Lexington’s Bluegrass Station.”

She concludes by saying, “Mitch McConnell works for Kentucky jobs.”

Grimes begins her bus tour Friday in far western Kentucky and on Saturday visits Henderson, and Owensboro. She’s in Jefferson County on Sunday then swings toward eastern Kentucky on Tuesday, including visits to Rowan and Boyd counties. She’ll also visit Republican counties like Laurel and Pulaski next week.

The tour continues through Election Day on May 20 when she finishes in Fayette County.

McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore contrasted Grimes’ bus tour with her earlier out-of-state fundraising trips “pandering to Barack Obama donors.” But Grimes isn’t the only candidate raising money out of state. The New York Daily news ran a story Thursday reporting McConnell has visited New York several times in the past couple of months raising money.

While Grimes and McConnell look to the general election, Bevin continues to travel the state, speaking to as many potential Republican primary voters as he can find and claiming he can still win. Thursday he was scheduled to appear in Somerset.

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.

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