LOUISVILLE — Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell told county officials from across Kentucky on Friday that electing his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, would mean “a dramatic reduction in influence in the Senate” for Kentucky.
McConnell told a convention of Kentucky judge/executives, magistrates and commissioners that if they don’t like the current direction of the country they can start this fall by changing control of the U.S. Senate.
The five-term incumbent is the minority leader of the Senate and dreams of switching jobs with Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., if Republicans can capture the majority in this fall’s elections. The GOP needs a net gain of six seats but enjoys a generally favorable political climate with plunging popularity of Democratic President Barack Obama.
But capturing those six seats becomes far more difficult if McConnell was to be defeated and most polling shows the race close between him and the young, first-term Democratic Secretary of State.
So McConnell made his pitch here Friday – one day after Grimes spoke to same group. Both made overtly political speeches – but McConnell seemed more warmly received despite the fact that a majority of the officials are registered Democrats.
McConnell knows his audience. He said he realizes that many of the officials “are registered in the same party as the president - you don’t talk about it much anymore but I know you are.” But he also knows many of them don’t like Obama or Reid, even some who do like Grimes.
So McConnell tried to make the case that electing Grimes strengthens Obama while diminishing Kentucky’s influence. He reminded the crowd that every senator has a vote but “one job is more important:” that of Majority Leader who controls the flow of legislation. Even his current job as minority leader, McConnell said, is better for Kentucky than that of a freshman senator (though he didn’t mention that Kentucky’s other senator is freshman Rand Paul who is considered a potential presidential candidate).