United States Senate elections in Kentucky, 2014

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U.S. Senate, Kentucky General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMitch McConnell Incumbent 56.2% 806,787
     Democratic Alison Lundergan Grimes 40.7% 584,698
     Libertarian David Patterson 3.1% 44,240
Total Votes 1,435,725
Source: Kentucky Secretary of State



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2014 U.S. Senate Elections in Kentucky

General Election Date
November 4, 2014

Primary Date
May 20, 2014

November 4 Election Winner:
Mitch McConnell Republican Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Mitch McConnell Republican Party
Mitch McConnell.jpg

Race Ratings
Cook Political Report: Toss Up[1]

Sabato's Crystal Ball: Likely R[2]


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2014 U.S. House Elections

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This election page was last edited at 9:19 am November 29, 2014.

Contents

Voters in Kentucky elected Mitch McConnell to the U.S. Senate in the election on November 4, 2014.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R) defeated challengers Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) and David Patterson (L) in the general election. McConnell was considered vulnerable in the days leading up to the election. He was unpopular with his constituents and was behind in some of the polls. He however gained a substantial lead over Lundergan Grimes after the Senate debate and missteps by Grimes herself.[3]

McConnell's vulnerability was first noticed in the primaries, where a number of Republicans sought to unseat him. Matt Bevin made himself the largest threat to McConnell and ran a formidable opposition campaign.[4] Though polls had often shown McConnell with a small lead, Cook Political Report considered the race a "Toss Up."

Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate, was the youngest serving Secretary of State in the country and the only woman holding a statewide office in Kentucky. In the primary, she won a commanding victory by collecting over three quarters of the preceding votes. Due to McConnell's unpopularity, she presented a strong threat to unseat him in a state that traditionally favors Republicans. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigned for Lundergan Grimes up until the general election.[5]

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) to temporarily pulled their ads supporting Lundergan Grimes off the air in mid-October. After polls showed increased support for Lundergan Grimes, the DSCC decided to again air advertisements in support of Lundergan Grimes. Approximately $650,000 was spent by the DSCC to help Lundergan Grimes gain more influence. An inside source from the DSCC stated that they believed the independent voters in Kentucky were steadily shifting in support of the Democratic candidate.[6]

McConnell suffered from low approval ratings and sustained attacks from Bevin's campaign in the Republican primary. Bevin was able to garner support with backing from the Tea Party and other conservative groups.[7] Financially, Bevin also used donations and his own personal wealth in his unsuccessful attempt to unseat McConnell. He was reported to have spent over $5 million during the course of the primary.[8] Despite initial speculation about the threat from Bevin, McConnell maintained a substantial lead in the polls during the Republican primary and easily secured the Republican nomination.[9]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
January 28, 2014
May 20, 2014
November 4, 2014

Primary: Kentucky is one of 12 states to use a strictly closed primary process, in which the selection of a party's candidates in an election is limited to registered party members.[10][11][12]

Voter registration: To vote in the primary, voters had to register by April 21, 2014. For the general election, the voter registration deadline was October 6, 2014.[13]

See also: Kentucky elections, 2014

Incumbent: The election filled the Senate seat held by Mitch McConnell (R). McConnell was first elected in 1984. He ran for and won re-election to a sixth term in 2014.[14]

Candidates

General election candidates


May 20, 2014, primary results

Republican Party Republican Primary

Democratic Party Democratic Primary

Independent Third Party Candidates

Failed to file

Withdrew

Declined to run

Election results

General election results

The state of Kentucky held an election for the U.S. Senate on November 4, 2014. Incumbent Mitch McConnell (R) defeated challengers Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) and David Patterson (L) in the general election.

U.S. Senate, Kentucky General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMitch McConnell Incumbent 56.2% 806,787
     Democratic Alison Lundergan Grimes 40.7% 584,698
     Libertarian David Patterson 3.1% 44,240
Total Votes 1,435,725
Source: Kentucky Secretary of State

Primary results

U.S. Senate, Kentucky Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngAlison Lundergan Grimes 76.5% 307,821
Gregory Leichty 8.1% 32,602
Burrel Farnsley 8% 32,310
Tom Recktenwald 7.4% 29,791
Total Votes 402,524
Source: Kentucky State Board of Elections


U.S. Senate, Kentucky Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMitch McConnell Incumbent 60.2% 213,753
Matt Bevin 35.4% 125,787
Shawna Sterling 2% 7,214
Chris Payne 1.5% 5,338
Brad Copas 0.9% 3,024
Total Votes 355,116
Source: Kentucky State Board of Elections

Race background

See also: Energy and the 2014 election: the ballots and beyond

In 2008, Mitch McConnell won re-election to a fifth term and became Kentucky's longest serving senator.[37] McConnell spent approximately $20 million on his last election, beating Democrat Bruce Lunsford, a Kentucky businessman, by 6 percentage points.[37]

McConnell served as the Republican Party Whip from 2005 to 2007, before he took on the role of Senate Minority Leader in 2007.[38]

Low approval ratings and a primary challenge from tea-party backed Matt Bevin make McConell a vulnerable incumbent in 2014.[4] McConnell was also troubled by the lack of backing from national GOP candidates.[39]

Since Republicans were able to pick up the necessary six seats for a majority in 2014, McConnell is likely to take over as the new Senate Majority Leader.

Primary to watch

The primary battle between Matt Bevin and incumbent Mitch McConnell was highlighted as one of the top five primaries to watch in 2014.[40] Others on the list included Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi and Wyoming.

Primary vulnerability

McConnell was named by National Journal as one of the top five incumbent senators at risk of losing his or her primary election. Four of the five most vulnerable senators were Republican.[41] Other vulnerable incumbents included Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

Washington Post top 10 races

According to an analysis by The Washington Post, the U.S. Senate election in Kentucky was considered one of the top 10 Senate races of 2014. Lundergan Grimes impressed many with high fundraising and tight polling.[42]

General election

Key votes

Below are important votes the incumbent cast during the 113th Congress.

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Yea3.png During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[43] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. McConnell voted with the Democratic Party for the bill.[44]

McConnell statement
See also: United States budget debate, 2013

In a statement McConnell said, "the effects of this completely unnecessary shutdown will have a real impact on my constituents. And I will donate my paycheck to charity for as long as Senate Democrats deprive hardworking Americans of their paychecks during this completely unnecessary shutdown.” An aide added that McConnell planned to donate compensation earned during the shutdown to Wayside Christian Mission in Louisville.[45]

Post-shutdown fundraiser

At a National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser in October 2013, McConnell said that the shutdown was "not conservative policy" and reiterated that he always believed that "this strategy could not and would not work." He attended the fundraiser with over a dozen Senate Republicans.[46]

Issues

Abortion

On June 28, 2014, McConnell promised in a speaking engagement with the National Right to Life Convention to focus more attention on limiting abortions if Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014.[47]

"For six years, the president has been isolated from this growing movement. He will be forced to listen to the cause that's brought us all here this morning. Senate Dems would be forced to take a stand," McConnell said.[47]

Debate: October 13, 2014

Lundergan Grimes and McConnell faced off in what was a very personal debate between the two candidates. Going into the debate, McConnell maintained a slight lead over Lundergan Grimes in the polls. It was crucial for Grimes to perform well in what was the only debate before the general election.

Jobs and the Economy: Both candidates brawled over the nation's most talked about topic, the economy. McConnell defended his record for helping Kentucky's economy through opposing what he called "Obama's war against coal," referring to Obama's clean energy plan to cut down on coal use. Lundergan Grimes fired back and attacked his tenure as senator during which Kentucky had lost jobs. She said, "Senator McConnell fails to see he has a role in all of the jobs that have been lost here in the state."[48]

Obamacare: McConnell was pressed by Goodman, the moderator, on the role of Obamacare in Kentucky. McConnell reiterated that the legislation needs to be repealed because it adversely affects important groups, such as seniors. The entire stance, however, seemed difficult for McConnell to defend as Goodman noted reports stating that Medicaid expansion had benefited Kentucky. When asked about Kentucky's state based healthcare website, Kynect, McConnell stated that it was a state initiative not put forth by the federal government. Goodman further questioned McConnell on the similarities between Kynect and Obamacare, to which McConnell replied, referencing Kynect: "Well, that's fine. I think it's fine to have a website."

Grimes 2012 Election Vote: Perhaps one of the more controversial stories of that night, and as well as in the election, was Lundergan Grimes insistence on withholding whether or not she voted for Obama in the 2012 Presidential Election. She stated that she refused to share such information on the basis of principle and that it reflected her duties as Kentucky's Secretary of State to reserve the sanctity of the ballot box. Given Obama's unpopularity in the state, such a controversy hurt Lundergan Grimes during the general election.

Personal Attacks: McConnell wasted no time in associating Lundergan Grimes with President Obama and painting her as a partisan Democrat. Lundergan Grimes insisted that the debate was between herself and McConnell, stating that she doesn't always agree with Obama's approach to certain issues. She also attempted to attack McConnell's character by calling him "Senator Gridlock" and "Senator No-Show," stating that much of the inability for congress to work together falls on him as Senate Minority Leader. McConnell countered that assertion with his record of working on key bills with Vice President Joe Biden.[49]

Senate Majority Leader: Though not directly stated, McConnell did make hints towards his potential leadership position in the Senate if re-elected by the residents of Kentucky. Since Republicans took control of the Senate, McConnell is a likely candidate for the Senate Majority Leader position. McConnell did hint that if he were to become the Senate Majority Leader he would be better able to serve the his constituents.[50]

Controversy

McConnell coal ad

McConnell's February 2014 ad focused on coal.

McConnell's campaign released an ad on February 27, 2014, that centered around coal. The ad featured McConnell saying that anti-coal rhetoric in Washington needs to stop and he vowed to lead the opposition to any federal efforts that would hurt the coal sector.[51]

Chamber of Commerce ad

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released an ad on December 2, 2013, about coal, a key issue in the 2014 race.[52] "Coal means jobs in Kentucky. While the EPA and bureaucrats try to kill Kentucky's coal industry, Mitch McConnell is fighting back, fighting hard," the narrator said in the ad.[52]

The ad also added that McConnell was "working to block the EPA and shut down the bureaucrats," and that he was "making sure our coal industry remains strong."

In response, Grimes wrote an op-ed piece for a local paper stating that McConnell "has accomplished next to nothing for the coal industry. He talks the game, but the game he plays is about as dangerous for coal miners as a rotten mine timber."[52]

The group released a second ad on February 18, 2014. The ad described McConnell as fighting against “Obamacare” and for Kentucky’s future.[53] While the group did not disclose the exact amount of the ad buy, it was described as "significant."[53]

Second amendment

On November 8, 2013, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) invited Mitch McConnell (R) to go shooting with her. The invitation came after McConnell announced the launch of a coalition of gun rights supporters, "Sportsmen for Team Mitch."[54]

The NRA also indicated that same day that it plans to engage heavily in the race on behalf of McConnell and presented him a "Defender of Freedom" award.[54]

“As an NRA member, my strong support for the Second Amendment is unquestioned. I am proud of Kentucky's long-held gun ownership, sporting and hunting traditions," Lundergan Grimes said in her invitation to McConnell.[54]

"In the Senate, I will protect my fellow Kentuckians' right to keep and bear arms. Whenever he's not busy pandering to Washington lobbyists, I welcome Senator McConnell to come shoot with me at the range any day,” she added.[54] McConnell never responded to the invitation.[55]

2012 Presidential Election Vote

In early October, Grimes found herself under fire after she refused four times to state if she voted for Barack Obama during an interview with the Courier Journal. The attention drew a large amount of criticism towards Grimes in a state that at the time highly disapproved of President Obama's administration.

Though Obama's unpopularity could be linked to the criticism of Grimes' refusal to state her vote, much of the criticism came from analysts questioning her ability to justify tough votes if she were to serve in the Senate. Phrases, such as "amateur" and "ridiculous," were used to describe her explanation of refusing to tell for whom she had voted. NBC Political Reporter Chuck Todd stated that: "I think she disqualified herself."[56]

In response to criticism, Grimes justified her decision to withhold her votes in the 2012 Presidential Election by citing the "sanctity" of the ballot box. She said it was her right by law to withhold her votes and to keep them private. Moreover, she emphasized it was appropriate for her to do so with her role as Secretary of State in Kentucky.

Media

On April 18, 2013, McConnell's campaign released an ad pointing to a series of “dirty” attacks by Democratic outside groups.[57] It was the second occasion that McConnell’s campaign launched an ad portraying him as the victim.[57] After the Progress Kentucky super PAC got in trouble for racially insensitive tweets about McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, his campaign launched another ad featuring Chao.[57]

In October 2013, Grimes released an ad accusing McConnell of "light[ing] the house on fire and then claim[ing] credit for putting it out."[58]


Kentuckians for Strong Leadership June 2013 ad, "Rubber Stamp."

McConnell's April 2013, ad, "How Dirty."

Lundergan Grimes' October 28, 2013, ad, "Fire."

KY for Strong Leadership


Kentuckians for Strong Leadership ad, "Red Carpet."

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership ad, "Anarchists."

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership ad, "Whatever."

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership ad, "Burned."
  • The group, KY for Strong Leadership, released another ad titled, "Red Carpet," with a $552,000 price tag, in May 2014, just weeks before the primary election, that linked Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes with President Barack Obama.[59]
    • "Obamacare. The war on coal. That's Obama's agenda. And Alison Grimes supports Obama. Now (Obama's) lieutenants are financing her campaign because Obama needs another vote in the Senate. And with Alison Grimes, that's what he'll get," a female narrator said ad.[60]
  • Kentuckians for Strong Leadership released another ad in November 2013, tying Grimes to President Barack Obama's controversial healthcare promise. The cost to air the ad on broadcast and cable television was $340,000.[61]
    • The ad began with video of Obama vowing that under the Affordable Care Act, “If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan” — before citing an NBC News report suggesting the administration was aware all along that many Americans would have to transition to new insurance coverage.[61]
    • “And how about Obama supporter Alison Grimes? Her credibility’s burned, too. Fact-checkers are smoking out her exaggerations … Grimes and Obama: When liberals don’t tell the truth, Kentucky gets burned,” the ad continued.[61]
  • On September 27, 2013, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership released another campaign ad that attacked McConnell's then general election challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes. The ad, costing approximately $75,000, ran statewide.[62] It touted McConnell’s opposition to Obamacare before making the connection between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Grimes.[62]
    • “That’s why Harry Reid personally recruited liberal Alison Grimes to run against McConnell, and now Grimes is raising money with Harry Reid in Las Vegas. The choice is clear: Grimes and Reid, pushing Obamacare on us, while members of Congress get a bailout; or Mitch McConnell, a fighter for Kentucky,” the ad said.[62]

Opportunity Coalition


Kentucky Opportunity Coalitions' June 2014 ad, "Caught."
  • Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a 501(c)(4) group aligned with the super PAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, announced on December 16, 2013, a $382,000 ad buy tying McConnell to Rand Paul. The ad attempted to show the two “working together to stop Obamacare.”[66]
    • “For Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, fighting Obamacare isn’t about politics. It’s a fight for the Kentucky families who are losing their health coverage,” the ad said. “McConnell and Paul are working together to stop Obamacare — to stop the Washington liberals who are forcing families out of plans that include the doctors they trust.”[66]
  • On June 17, 2014, the group launched a $575,000 ad buy that accused Alison Lundergan Grimes of failing to deliver on her public promise to defend her home-state coal industry.[67]
    • “Alison Grimes just got caught in a big lie. Before a Washington fundraiser with anti-coal Senate boss Harry Reid, Grimes insisted she’d fight for Kentucky coal. Turns out she lied, Grimes didn’t mention coal, not one word,” a narrator said in the 30-second ad.[67]

DSCC

It was announced on July 19, 2013, that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) made an online ad buy against McConnell.[68] The ads called McConnell the “guardian of gridlock,” pointing to the Senate GOP’s frequent filibuster threats.[68]

That same day, pro-McConnell Super PAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership launched a new ad featuring a clip of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) saying she agrees with the national Democratic Party’s platform.[68]

In mid-October, the DSCC decided to stop running advertisement campaigns in Kentucky, effectively pulling the remaining airtime they had. On October 14, 2014, the DSCC went off the air with their advertisements and did not make any commitment towards bringing them back up before the general election. This decision came at a time when McConnell was maintaining a slight lead over Grimes according to mid-October polls. Other Democratic candidates, such as Michelle Nunn in Georgia, received key funding from the DSCC due to tying or leading their opponents in the polls. Just eight days later, the DSCC began airing ads again citing new polls.[69]

Senate Majority PAC

  • Senate Majority PAC launched its second ad of the campaign, as part of its pledge to meet a pro-McConnell super-PAC ad-for-ad.[70] The 30-second ad titled "Guardian of Gridlock" started running across the state on July 23, 2013, at a cost of about $270,000. It was part of the Senate Majority PAC's "30 Years is Too Long Campaign" against McConnell that started in June 2013.[71] The ad hammered McConnell for calling himself "the guardian of gridlock," and closely echoed attacks from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which had launched its own ongoing campaign criticizing McConnell for congressional inactivity.[70]
    • "He calls himself the 'guardian of gridlock,' grinding the Senate to a halt even when it hurts Kentucky," a narrator says in the ad.[70]
  • On September 30, 2013, the Senate Majority PAC announced its radio ad as part of its ongoing “30 Years Is Too Long Campaign.” The ad highlighted the disastrous record of failure and gridlock that Mitch McConnell had racked up in his 10,000 days as a U.S. Senator. The ad also fought back against the then-latest advertising from “Kentuckians for Strong Leadership.”[72]
  • The group launched a $550,000 ad buy attacking McConell in July 2014.[73]



Senate Majority PAC's July 23, 2013 ad, "Guardian of Gridlock."

Alison Lundergan Grimes' July 25, 2013, ad, "The Campaign Begins"

Alison Lundergan Grimes' May 8, 2014, ad, "Lost in Battle."

Alison Lundergan Grimes' May 21, 2014, ad, "A Moment."

Alison Lundergan Grimes

A timeline of Grimes' media campaign is detailed below.

  • Grimes launched her first television ad of the general election on May 21, 2014. The ad featured a short introduction to her candidacy and her bipartisan credentials.[74]
    • Grimes said in the ad, "I'm running because I believe we need a senator who puts partisanship aside and works with both Democrats and Republicans to do what's right for Kentucky. And no matter who our president is, I won't answer to them; I'll only answer to you."[74]
  • Grimes launched her first television ad for her campaign on May 8, 2014.[75]
    • The ad highlighted Grimes' efforts to improve voting procedures for the state’s overseas military service members.[75]
    • It was narrated by the mother of one servicemember, who said Grimes brought both parties together to pass a law ensuring her son’s ballot would not be lost again.[76]
    • “Because of Alison, that will never happen again. Washington should work this way,” Lyne Dickey of Paducah, Kentucky, said in the ad.[75]
  • Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes signaled the beginning of her campaign on July 25, 2013, when she released a video that invited voters to a rally in Lexington, while also warning Sen. Mitch McConnell that “I don’t scare easy.”[77][78][79][80]
    • The video, which ran nearly four minutes, was filmed in the same room where Grimes recorded an ad during her 2011 Secretary of State race that featured her two grandmothers writing a “commercial” for her campaign and brought her national attention. In that ad, one of her grandmothers asks, “What rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes?”[77]

SCF


The Senate Conservatives Fund ad, "Stop Amnesty."
  • On August 16, 2013, SCF announced they were planning a "statewide media campaign in Kentucky" to make McConnell "feel the heat" and supported a conservative effort to defund Obamacare.[81]
    • "Mitch McConnell is telling people he opposes Obamacare while he refuses to oppose its funding. We can't let him have it both ways. If he funds it, he's for it," said Matt Hoskins, the executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, in an email seeking funds for the campaign.[81]
  • SCF reportedly also purchased $50,000 of national radio and television ad time to attack McConnell for his lack of fortitude on border security and for supporting "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants. The ad asked viewers to call McConnell and urged him him to kill the legislation. "We don't want excuses," read a statement from the group. "We want results."[82] It also launched a petition at StopAmnestyMitch.com.[82]
  • In August 2013 the audio of a January 9, 2013 telephone conversation revealed that Jesse Benton, McConnell's campaign manager, said he was "holding my nose" while working for the candidate.
    • Benton later said in a statement that he believed in McConnell and was 100 percent committed to his re-election.[83]

The Senate Conservatives Fund ad, "Nothing."
  • In July 2013, executive director Matt Hoskins said the group was open to backing Bevin.[84][83] The group said it was "waiting to see if the grassroots in Kentucky unite" behind Bevin.[83]
  • The group pressured members of Congress not to vote for any spending bills in the fall that included funding for the Affordable Care Act.[85] The group further stated that McConnell had not signed a letter by Mike Lee that pledged to oppose any continuing resolution that funded the law.[85] More than a dozen Republican senators had signed on at the time.[85]
    • “If there was ever a time when Kentucky needed Mitch McConnell to deliver, it is now,” SCF Director Matt Hoskins said in a statement. “We hope he listens to the voters and finds the courage to lead.”[85]

Senate Conservatives Action October 2013 ad, "Kentucky."
  • Senate Conservatives Action, an arm of Senate Conservatives Fund, which endorsed Matt Bevin over McConnell in the Republican primary, released an ad costing $330,000 on October 29, 2013, attacking McConnell's vote for the compromise bill he helped craft to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling.[86] Some conservatives were dissatisfied with the final compromise bill because it made no major changes to the health-care law known as "Obamacare."
    • "Conservatives asked Mitch McConnell to lead the fight against Obamacare. He didn't listen," said the narrator of the ad. "Instead, McConnell helped Barack Obama and Harry Reid fund Obamacare."[86]
    • McConnell's campaign responded, "When Mitch McConnell was rallying conservatives to fight Obamacare the fundraising group responsible for these ads was working day and night to ensure Barack Obama's majority in the Senate. You get an idea of what team the Senate Conservatives Fund is on when you realize that there are scores of Democrats who actually voted for Obamacare up for re-election and this group, purporting to support conservative causes, is investing their well-intentioned donors money into attacking the man responsible for leading the opposition to the law."[86]

PCCC

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee began running a new television ad on August 15, 2013, attacking Mitch McConnell's stance on Social Security.[87]


The Progressive Change Campaign Committee August 2013 ad, "Tell Mitch McConnell: ExpandSocialSecurity.com."

The ad featured Kirk Gillenwaters, a Kentucky labor activist who previously appeared in a radio ad against McConnell in 2008.[87]

"I started working at the Ford plant in Louisville when I was 18 years old. After decades of hard work, I have some injuries. We work hard for these companies, and we're promised a secure retirement in return," Gillenwaters said. "Retirement is supposed to be promises made, promises kept. But our pensions are being cut and we need Social Security. When Senator Mitch McConnell supports cutting Social Security, he's breaking a promise -- and he's hurting our families. Senator McConnell -- if anything, we need to expand Social Security benefits, not cut them."[87]

The group spent just $21,000 on airtime, and the ad ran for approximately one week on all major Louisville broadcast stations, according to PCCC spokesman Matt Wall.[87]

McConnell, like President Barack Obama, had voiced support for a proposal called chained CPI, which would reduce the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security, effectively cutting benefits for future retirees.[87] "I think a place to talk is on things like chained CPI," McConnell said in an interview in July 2013.[87]

Patriot Majority PAC

The Patriot Majority PAC announced an ad buy targeting Mitch McConnell on October 30, 2013.[88] The ad noted that the government shutdown cost the country $24 billion and put the blame for the shutdown on the GOP leaders.[88] The group spent $260,000 on the ad in Kentucky.[88]


The Patriot Majority PAC's October 2013 ad, "Smoke."

The Patriot Majority PAC's June 2013 ad, "Switch."

Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce released an ad on December 2, 2013, about coal, a key issue in the race.[52]

"Coal means jobs in Kentucky. While the EPA and bureaucrats try to kill Kentucky's coal industry, Mitch McConnell is fighting back, fighting hard," the narrator said in the ad.[52]

The ad also added that McConnell was "working to block the EPA and shut down the bureaucrats," and "making sure our coal industry remains strong."

In response, Grimes wrote an op-ed piece for a local paper stating that McConnell "has accomplished next to nothing for the coal industry. He talks the game, but the game he plays is about as dangerous for coal miners as a rotten mine timber."[52]

The group released a second ad on February 18, 2014. The ad described McConnell as fighting against “Obamacare” and for Kentucky’s future.[53] While the group did not disclose the exact amount of the ad buy, it was described as "significant."[53]


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce February 2014 ad, "U.S. Chamber Supports Mitch McConnell."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce December 2013 ad, "Fighting Hard for Kentucky Coal."

McConnell's January 2014 ad about sick workers, "Cares."

Sick plant workers

McConnell's campaign released an ad, "Cares," about sick plant workers on January 22, 2014.[89] The ad featured a Paducah Energy Worker and survivor of throat cancer, who praised McConnell for his efforts to help sick workers.[89][90]

"These days, I don't have much of a voice. But I and so many Kentuckians have been helped by someone with a strong voice," said the worker.[89]

Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes's campaign noted that McConnell ran a similar ad featuring the same worker in 2008.[89]

Polls

General election

McConnell v. Grimes

McConnell v. Grimes (May 2014 - Present)
Poll Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) Ed Marksberry (I)Mitch McConnell (R)David Patterson (L)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
SurveyUSA
October 15-19, 2014
43%0%44%5%8%+/-3.9655
SurveyUSA
September 30 - October 2, 2014
46%0%44%3%7%+/-4.0730
Mellman Group
September 4-7, 2014
43%0%42%0%15%+/-3.5800
Public Opinion Strategies
September 1-3, 2014
42%0%47%4%7%+/-4.0600
Public Policy Polling
August 7-10, 2014
46%0%50%0%1%+/-3.51,037
CBS/NYT/YouGov
July 5-24, 2014
46%0%50%0%2%+/-4.01,515
SurveyUSA
July 18-23, 2014
39%0%41%7%13%+/-3.7714
Gravis/Human Events
July 17-20, 2014
45%0%45%0%10%+/-3.01,054
Voter/Consumer Research
June 22-25, 2014
42%0%49%0%9%+/-3.5807
Public Policy Polling
June 20-22, 2014
48%0%46%0%6%+/-3.8682
Public Opinion Strategies
June 14-17, 2014
43%0%48%0%9%+/-3.46800
Magellan Strategies
June 4-5, 2014
49%0%46%0%5%+/-3.45808
Rasmussen Reports
May 28-29, 2014
41%0%48%0%7%+/-4.0750
Wenzel Strategies
May 23-24, 2014
44%0%47%0%8%+/-3.95608
SurveyUSA
May 14-16, 2014
43%4%42%4%7%+/-2.61,475
AVERAGES 44% 0.27% 45.93% 1.53% 7.6% +/-3.62 869
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org
McConnell v. Grimes (December 2013 - April 2014)
Poll Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) Ed Marksberry (I)Mitch McConnell (R)UndecidedSomeone elseMargin of ErrorSample Size
Hickman Analytics
April 24-30, 2014
45%0%46%9%0%+/-4.4500
Gravis Marketing/Human Events
April 15-17, 2014
36%9%43%12%0%+/-3.01,359
Kaiser Foundation
April 8-15, 2014
43%0%44%3%8%+/-4.01,026
Public Policy Polling
April 1-2, 2014
45%0%44%12%0%+/-3.8663
Wenzel Strategies
February 8-11, 2014
42%0%43%15%0%+/-3.061,002
Survey USA
January 30-February 4, 2014
47%0%42%12%0%+/-4.91,082
Rasmussen Reports
January 29-30, 2014
42%0%42%10%6%+/-4.5500
Public Policy Polling
January 24-26, 2014
44%0%45%11%0%+/-3.9640
Gravis Marketing/Human Events
January 2, 2014
37%8%42%13%0%+/-4.0683
Public Policy Polling
December 12-15, 2013
42%0%43%15%0%+/-4.21,509
AVERAGES 42.3% 1.7% 43.4% 11.2% 1.4% +/-3.98 896.4
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org


McConnell v. Grimes (April 2013 - October 2013)
Poll Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) Mitch McConnell (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
DFM Research
October 21-27, 2013
40%41%19%+/-4.4600
Lake Research
Ocotber 24-29, 2013
37%37%19%+/-4.0603
Public Policy Polling
October 14-15, 2013
45%43%12%+/-2.81,193
Lake Research
August 5-15, 2013
46%40%14%+/-1.45,000
Wenzel Strategies
July 23-24, 2013
40%48%12%+/-3.9624
Melman Group
July 20-24, 2013
44%42%14%+/-3.9750
Public Policy Polling
July 19-21, 2013
45%44%11%+/-2.81,210
Wenzel Strategies
June 1-2, 2013
40%47%14%+/-3.9623
Public Policy Polling
May 23-34, 2013
45%45%10%+/-4.2556
Public Policy Polling
April 4-7, 2013
41%45%14%+/-5.51,052
AVERAGES 42.3% 43.2% 13.9% +/-3.68 1,221.1
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

Bevin v. Grimes

Bevin v. Grimes
Poll Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) Matt Bevin (R)Ed Marksberry (I)David Patterson (L)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Wenzel Strategies
July 23-24, 2013
30%35%0%0%36%+/-3.9624
Public Policy Polling
December 12-15, 2013
38%39%0%0%24%+/-2.51,509
Rasmussen Reports
January 29-30, 2014
36%40%0%0%17%+/-4.5500
Wenzel Strategies
February 2-11, 2014
39%36%0%0%25%+/-3.061,002
New York Times/Kaiser Foundation
April 8-15, 2014
41%35%0%0%16%+/-4.01,026
Gravis Marketing/Human Events
April 15-17, 2014
37%32%7%0%25%+/-3.01,359
SurveyUSA
May 14-16, 2014
41%38%4%5%12%+/-2.61,475
AVERAGES 37.43% 36.43% 1.57% 0.71% 22.14% +/-3.37 1,070.71
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Campaign donors

Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season.

Alison Lundergan Grimes (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
October Quarterly[91]October 13, 2013$0.00$2,527,348.31$(562,755.81)$1,964,542.50
Year-end[92]January 31, 2014$1,964,542.50$2,070,322.75$(724,348.25)$3,310,517.00
April Quarterly[93]April 15, 2014$3,310,517.00$2,706,433.34$(1,163,356.78)$4,853,593.56
Pre-Primary[94]May 8, 2014$4,853,593.56$785,015.22$(766,150.62)$4,872,458.16
July Quarterly[95]July 15, 2014$4,872,601$3,263,641$(1,962,011)$6,174,231
October Quarterly[96]October 15, 2014$6,174,231$4,895,161$(6,681,442)$4,387,949
Running totals
$16,247,921.62$(11,860,064.46)
Mitch McConnell (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[97]April 15, 2013$7,383,877.63$1,829,561.34$(572,576.13)$8,640,862.84
July Quarterly[98]July 15, 2013$8,640,862.84$2,203,364.34$(1,266,897.60)$9,577,329.58
October Quarterly[99]October 13, 2013$9,577,329.58$2,269,285.30$(2,081,628.80)$9,764,986.08
Year-end[100]January 31, 2014$9,764,986$2,224,936$(1,110,325)$10,879,596
April Quarterly[101]April 15, 2014$10,879,596$2,376,794$(2,878,255)$10,378,135
Pre-Primary[102]May 8, 2014$10,378,135$1,071,606$(1,304,176)$10,145,566
July Quarterly[103]July 15, 2014$10,145,566$2,038,945$(2,367,642)$9,816,869
October Quarterly[104]October 15, 2014$9,816,869$3,170,999$(7,747,653)$5,240,215
Running totals
$17,185,490.98$(19,329,153.53)

Alison Lundergan Grimes

High profile fundraisers

September 2014
In early September 2014, two Washington, D.C. fundraisers were held for the Grimes campaign. One was headlined by Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in Potomac, MD. The following day, the Grimes campaign held a reception in D.C.[105] October 2013
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hosted a fundraiser for Lundergan Grimes on October 27, 2013.[106]

Endorsements

Mitch McConnell

Incumbent Mitch McConnell received endorsements from the following individuals and groups:

  • TheTeaParty.net, a national tea party group, declared in May 2013 its support for incumbent McConnell in his 2014 re-election bid.[107] The endorsement was expected to help him defend himself as some tea party activists endorsed his primary challenger.[107]
    • Niger Innis, the chief strategist of TheTeaParty.net said, “With the new revelations that the IRS has been targeting Tea Party groups, we need Sen. McConnell more than ever. He was sounding the alarm about the government’s assault on our First Amendment rights years ago, even when it fell on deaf ears. We all owe Sen. McConnell a debt for his vision and courage.”[107]
  • Huck PAC endorsed Mitch McConnell on December 2, 2013.[108]
  • Senator Rand Paul declared his support for incumbent Mitch McConnell in his primary battle against challenger Matt Bevin.[109] In response to Bevin's decision to challenge McConnell he said, “I’m not giving him encouragement or discouragement. It’s a free country and anyone who wants to run can. I have endorsed Sen. McConnell.” As the election progressed, Paul had to perform an increasingly careful balancing act: Show complete support for McConnell, while trying not to alientate the same tea party supporters who helped him in 2010 and whom he would presumably need in 2016.[109]
  • The Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) endorsed McConnell on October 12, 2013.[111]
  • Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced on October 20, 2013, his endorsement for McConnell over Matt Bevin, his tea party challenger.[112]
    • When asked if he supported Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Rubio answered, "I do support Sen. McConnell's bid for re-election. I think he's trying to lead our conference. It's a diverse conference with a lot of different opinions. That's a tough job to begin with. And of course, he's got to represent his own state."[112]
  • The Kentucky Federation of College Republicans endorsed McConnell on November 12, 2013.[113]
  • The National Federation of Independent Business endorsed McConnell on February 14, 2014.[114]
  • Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton endorsed McConnell on June 9, 2014.[116]
    • “After over seven years of Harry Reid’s failed leadership in Washington, America needs change. Having worked with Mitch McConnell, I know he is the Senate Majority Leader we need to lead Congress in the right direction,” Bolton said in a statement.[117]

Alison Lundergan Grimes


President Clinton's video endorsement for Alison Lundergan Grimes, "A Message from President Clinton."
  • Two of Kentucky's largest newspapers both delivered editorials on October 26, 2014, in support of Lundergan Grimes. The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader both endorsed Lundergan Grimes for her positions on issues affecting the state, such as the minimum wage and early childhood education. "McConnell lost his way to the point where he now is identified largely as the master of obstruction and gridlock in Washington," the Courier-Journal endorsement read. The endorsement made by the Courier-Journal also applauded Lundergan Grimes for allowing herself to be interviewed by their editorial board. It was the same interview in which she refused to answer if she voted for Barack Obama in 2012. The editorial emphasized that: "She did this fully aware that Mr. McConnell's campaign could — and did — seize on snippets to use in political attacks."[118]
  • The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) endorsed Grimes on August 2, 2014.[119]
    • “Ms. Grimes is not only a strong supporter of coal and the coal industry. She is the only candidate in this race who is also a supporter of coal miners. She cares about their health and safety on the job. She cares about what happens to them once they retire after a career of dangerous, backbreaking work,” Roberts continued. “She cares about what happens to their families, and what can be done to make their communities stronger,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts said in a statement.[119]
  • Former President Bill Clinton pledged his support for Alison Lundergan Grimes in February 2014.[122][123] He attended a campaign event in Louisville for Alison Lundergan Grimes on February 25, 2014, where he reportedly helped her raise approximately $700,000.[124][125]
    • “We are very excited to have President Clinton coming into town to make his first campaign stop of this election cycle...I was elated when he called and said he wanted to make this race his top priority,” Grimes said.[122]
  • In a statement on August 21, 2013, EMILY's List released its endorsement for Lundergan Grimes.[127]Alison Lundergan Grimes is an energetic rising star, and her candidacy gives Kentuckians a chance to finally send a leader to Washington who puts families ahead of partisan politics,” said Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List.[127] “She is an incredible leader who has fought for women and families by protecting victims of domestic violence, supporting state and local businesses, championing voting rights, and advocating for military personnel. Mitch McConnell is one of the least liked senators in the country for a reason – he’s hopelessly out-of-touch with the needs of his state. Alison is working tirelessly to make sure that Kentuckians’ voices are being heard. The EMILY’s List community – now more than two million members – is excited to support the campaign of such a strong and dedicated public servant.”[127]
  • Black Eyed Peas singer, will.i.am, appeared at a fundraiser for Alison Lundergan Grimes on September 20, 2013.[128]
    • Nathan Smith, the former vice chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party and host of the fundraiser, said on September 5, 2013, “will. i.am is a modern entertainer and fresh and is passionate about the country. I saw him when he did an event at the inauguration [of Obama]. He offered his assistance to the [Grimes] campaign.”[128]
    • will.i.am previously appeared at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 in support of President Barack Obama’s re-election and made a music video titled “Yes We Can” in support of Obama’s campaign in 2008.[128]
  • On November 26, 2013, Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the fair pay legislation, announced her support for Grimes in the 2014 Senate race.[129]
    • "After my lengthy battle with pay inequity, I was honored and humbled to lend my name to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—landmark legislation that makes it easier for women to file pay discrimination lawsuits. But this is only an important first step in closing the gender wage gap. Yet, Senator McConnell voted against it. Time and again, McConnell has made clear where he stands on issues important to women and their families: in the wrong," Ledbetter said.[129]

Primary election

Endorsements

Kentucky Republican Contested Primary
Endorsement/Contribution Mitch McConnell Matt Bevin
TheTeaParty.net May 2013
The Madison Project July 28, 2013
Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) October 12, 2013
The Senate Conservatives Fund October 18, 2013
Marco Rubio (R-FL) October 20, 2013
John Kemper
(Former Republican Nominee for Kentucky Auditor)
November 7, 2013
Kentucky Federation of College Republicans November 12, 2013
Larry Forgy
(Former Republican Gubernatorial Nominee)
November 12, 2013
Huck PAC December 2, 2013
Angela Minter
(Executive Director of Sisters for Life)
January 20, 2014
FreedomWorks January 22, 2014
The National Federation of Independent Business February 14, 2014
Mandy Connell
(Conservative talk radio show host)
March 5, 2014
National Rifle Association April 12, 2014

Matt Bevin

Matt Bevin received endorsements from the following individuals and groups:

  • The Madison Project, a conservative fundraising group headed by former Rep. Jim Ryun, announced its endorsement of Matt Bevin on July 28, 2013.[130] The group praised Bevin’s candidacy in a letter to activists and donors as someone poised to storm “the decaying castle of the GOP establishment for millions of conservatives.”[130][131]
    • “As a self-made successful businessman, Matt Bevin understands that the failed leadership in the Republican Party cannot be fixed with the very elements that precipitated its failure,” they wrote.
    • Madison Project also blasted McConnell’s record in the GOP leadership, including his role in negotiating a deal to raise the national debt limit in 2011 and his handling of the immigration debate. “Sen. McConnell quietly encouraged Sen. Rubio to join the Gang of Eight to ensure that the amnesty bill would pass, albeit without his public support,” the group wrote. “Despite the fact that this was the most onerous bill to come to the floor since ObamaCare and despite his status as GOP leader, Sen. McConnell failed to deliver a single floor speech against the bill.”[130]
  • Former Republican Gubernatorial Nominee Larry Forgy endorsed Bevin on November 12, 2013.[133]
  • Angela Minter, Executive Director of Sisters for Life, endorsed Bevin on January 20, 2014.[134]
  • FreedomWorks endorsed Bevin on January 22, 2014. In the endorsement, it embraced Bevin as the more fiscally sound choice and criticized incumbent Mitch McConnell for “helping the Democrats” fund Obamacare in 2013.[135]
    • “He orchestrated the McConnell-Reid sellout bargain to increase the debt limit and fully fund a broken health care law, getting a $1.2 billion ‘special project kickback’ in the process,” said FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe. “Kentucky deserves better, and looking at the dropping poll numbers for McConnell, there’s no reason to settle."[135]
  • Conservative talk radio show host Mandy Connell endorsed Bevin on March 5, 2014.[136]

Media


Matt Bevin's first ad, released July 24, 2013, "Meet Matt Bevin."

Bevin's February 19, 2014, ad, "Conservative Principles - Earmarks."

Bevin's February 19, 2014, ad, "Conservative Principles - 2nd Amendment."

Bevin's February 24, 2014, ad, "Blank Check."

Bevin's March 27, 2014, ad, "March Madness."

Bevin's April 1, 2014, ad, "Caving."

Bevin's May 12, 2014, ad, "It's Time for a Change."

Matt Bevin

Below is a brief timeline of Bevin's media contributions:

  • Bevin blasted McConnell for supporting a debt-limit increase and launching “false attack ads” in an April 1, 2014, ad, "Caving." In the ad Bevin highlighted "Mitch McConnell's long record of surrendering to President Obama, including voting to give him a blank check by increasing the debt ceiling and voting to fund Obamacare."[138]
    • The ad featured Bevin speaking directly to the camera, “after caving yet again to President Obama on the debt ceiling, all that Mitch McConnell can do is run false attack ads."[139]
  • Bevin released a $30,000 ad buy on February 24, 2014, attacking McConnell for his vote to move forward a bill to pass a year-long debt ceiling extension earlier this month.[140]
    • The ad began with Bevin on camera before a narrator said, "Mitch McConnell betrayed conservatives to give Obama a blank check...Matt Bevin opposes raising the national debt. Period. The choice is clear. Conservative Republican Matt Bevin for U.S. Senate."[140]
  • Bevin's campaign released two 15-second ads on February 19, 2014. The ads compared-and-contrasted Bevin and McConnell, with one focused on guns and one on earmarks.[141]
  • Bevin released his own ad on the day he announced his official candidacy. The ad, "Meet Matt Bevin," began by Bevin saying, “Mitch McConnell has had a long career in politics. But after 30 years in politics, is his leadership really the best that we can do? America deserves more than failed leadership. We can do better.”[142]
    • A narrator chimed in, saying that “McConnell has voted for higher taxes, bailouts, debt ceiling increases, congressional pay raises, and liberal judges.” Bevin, on the other hand, was described as a “successful businessman, father of nine, veteran, conservative, Republican.”[142]
  • The same day that McConnell's primary challenger Matt Bevin was set to officially announce his candidacy, McConnell’s campaign announced a new ad buy labeling his primary opponent “Bailout Bevin” and noting that Bevin’s business, which is based in Connecticut, accepted $200,000 in bailout funds.[143]
  • March Madness: Bevin released a $40,000 ad buy on March 27, 2014, "March Madness," that featured McConnell in a Duke basketball jersey. In the ad, Bevin said, “March Madness in Kentucky. Commitment, courage — you gotta love it, even if your team is already out of the tournament."[144]
    • Bevin referenced an ad McConnell's re-election campaign released an ad on March 25, 2014, that accidentally included a clip of the Duke basketball team celebrating its 2010 NCAA championship. The campaign pulled the ad and replaced it with a different version, which later had to be taken down when the University of Kentucky sent the campaign a cease-and-desist letter for including footage of a current student-athlete in the ad.[145][144]
    • McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore responded in a statement: "Given Bailout Bevin's undying commitment to a fictional account of himself and Senator McConnell, we actually expected this ad to be about the time he won a national championship back in the 80s as a point guard for the MIT Engineers. Matt Bailout Bevin is not who he says he is, and he's certainly not a Kentucky conservative."[144]

McConnell's March 11, 2014, ad, "McConnell Working for Kentuckians."

McConnell's April 21, 2014, ad, "Conservative Leadership."

McConnell's May 6, 2014, ad, "Hero."

Mitch McConnell

Below is a brief timeline of McConnell's media contributions prior to the Republican primary:

  • Jobs: On May 6, 2014, just two weeks prior to the primary election, McConnell's campaign released a $100,000 television ad focused on jobs and foreign trade.[146] The ad, which featured examples of how McConnell's team says he fought foreign trade to save jobs at a Louisville aluminum plant, protected military families at the Bluegrass Army Depot by securing funding for a chemical weapons disposal program, and turning back government regulations that would have prevented fishing along the Cumberland River and its tributaries that are among the state's top tourist destinations, followed comments made by McConnell in April 2014 that it was "not my job" to bring employment to a struggling Kentucky county, and that the responsibility instead belonged to the state commerce department.[146]
  • Conservative leadership: In the final month before the primary, McConnell released an ad on April 21, 2014, "Conservative Leadership." The ad was a positive spot and showed McConnell as “a genuine Kentucky workhorse.” It also highlighted his work in the Senate against the Affordable Care Act and the “war on coal,” as well as his efforts against tax increases and on a local fishing issue.[147]
  • Duke basketball: In a campaign ad released on March 25, 2014, McConnell's campaign highlighted Kentucky's horse racing, bluegrass and basketball.[148] The campaign scrambled to remove the ad when it discovered that it featured a split-second clip of Duke basketball players celebrating their 2010 national championship, instead of University of Kentucky players.[148][149]
    • McConnell spokesperson Allison Moore said, "The ad was intended to highlight Kentucky's basketball dominance and obviously the web ad vendor has become so accustomed to watching national championship celebrations in the bluegrass state that they made a mistake with one of the images. Obviously we were horrified by the error and quickly changed it."[148]
    • After replacing the image of the Duke basketball team with one from the University of Kentucky, McConnell's campaign received a cease and desist letter from the University of Kentucky.[150] The NCAA does not permit the use of a student-athlete's image or likeness while they are still competing as amateurs.[150]
    • The University of Kentucky released a statement on March 25, 2014: "The University of Kentucky consulted with the NCAA earlier today regarding footage of Julius Randle in a Mitch McConnell advertisement. Although the use of the student-athlete's image in the advertisement is not permissible, because it was done without the knowledge or permission of the university or the student-athlete, it is not an NCAA violation. The University of Kentucky has sent a cease and desist letter and will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure improper usage of a student-athlete's name, image or likeness is prevented."[150]
    • Moore released a subsequent statement, “Earlier today, issues related to the use of NCAA images in a web video created by an outside vendor for our campaign were brought to our attention. The video was taken down immediately after questions were raised. It was our intention to honor our great Kentucky basketball traditions. Our campaign apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused.”[151]
  • McConnell working: McConnell's campaign released an ad on March 11, 2014, that lacked any narration. Instead, it featured stock footage of McConnell going through what seems to be his day-to-day routine-- signing papers, shaking hands, and sitting on a couch with his wife.[152]

McConnell v. Bevin


Matt Bevin's August 7, 2013, ad, "Finest"
  • McConnell's campaign launched its second ad against primary challenger Matt Bevin on August 5, 2013.[153]
    • The ad hit Bevin for tax issues and labeled him “Bailout Bevin.”[153][154][155][156]
    • Bevin's campaign was dismissive of the ad, characterizing it as an attempt to distract from McConnell's record. Bevin spokeswoman Sarah Durand said that the attacks on Bevin's work with his company reflected that McConnell was "out of touch" with Americans.[154]
    • "If Mitch McConnell had ever run a business or worked in the private sector, he would recognize what a commendable thing Matt did: He took a nearly bankrupt company, turned it around, saved American jobs and kept a historic bell manufacturing company in America. Sadly, Mitch McConnell is so out of touch, he doesn’t even understand that saving American jobs is a good thing," Durand said.[154]
  • McConnell’s campaign started running ads against Bevin before he even launched his campaign.[153]
    • In response, Bevin launched his own attack ad on August 7, 2013, calling McConnell's attacks towards him hypocritical in light of McConnell's support of taxpayer bailouts for Wall Street.[157][158]
    • The 30-second TV spot ran statewide, according to Bevin's campaign. The amount of the ad buy was not disclosed. The ad's narrator said that after voting for bailouts over his 30 years in the Senate, "slinging mud is all Sen. McConnell has left."[157][158]
  • In a subsequent ad, the McConnell campaign again highlighted Bevin working with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, saying, “When Bevin’s Connecticut company needed help, he turned to Washington’s most liberal senator…And then, Bevin’s companies got $200,000 in taxpayer bailouts.”[159]
    • The video, which McConnell's campaign officials have said they considered turning into a television ad, ended with a narrator saying that “Bailout Bevin [is] not a Kentucky conservative.”[159]
  • Bevin's campaign said McConnell was trying to distract from his own record.
    • Mitch McConnell can make all the misleading web videos in the world, but it doesn’t change the fact that he voted for amnesty three times, the Wall Street bailout, the Fannie and Freddie bailout, debt limit increases, massive tax increases, and pay raises for himself, and now, he’s refusing to defund Obamacare,” Bevin spokeswoman Sarah Durand said.[159]

Outside groups

KOC

Kentucky Opportunity Coalition's March 2014, ad, "Deserve."

Kentucky Opportunity Coalition's April 2014, ad, "Advocate."

American Chemistry Council's August 2013 ad, "Support for Sen. Mitch McConnell"

Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, launched a three-week, $1.8 million advertising campaign in Kentucky on March 17, 2014. As of March 2014, it was the largest ad buy in the campaign.[160][161]

As a non-profit organization, its political activity was restricted to issue-focused ads that do not directly endorse one candidate over another.[160]

Scott Jennings, a senior adviser with the group, said, "This week, you'll see the coalition specifically discuss issues that affect Kentucky's veterans and military installations. Each of the next three weeks will bring a different issue to the table, and we are pleased to have the resources to educate citizens about these critical matters...This advertising is designed to educate citizens about President Obama's plans to slash military spending and leave our nation in a weaker position, and to urge Sen. Mitch McConnell — who has a strong record of standing up for Kentucky's service men and women — to oppose those military budget cuts."[160]

The group released an ad on April 1, 2014, that focused on the death tax.[162] A farmer featured in the ad claimed that the death tax makes it harder to pass his land onto his family after he dies.[162][163]

Primary polls

Republican primary
Poll Mitch McConnell Matt BevinBrad CopasChris PayneShawna SterlingUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
SurveyUSA
May 14-16, 2014
55%35%1%1%3%5%+/-4.0605
Gravis/Human Events
May 12, 2014
48%34%0%0%0%18%+/-4.0629
NBC News/Marist
April 30 - May 6, 2014
57%25%0%0%0%13%+/-4.9408
Gravis Marketing/Human Events
April 15-17, 2014
51%34%0%0%0%15%+/-3.01,359
Public Opinion Strategies
February 24-26, 2014
61%23%0%0%0%16%+/-4.9400
Wenzel Strategies
February 8-11, 2014
59%17%0%0%0%24%+/-3.061,002
Survey USA
January 30-February 4, 2014
55%29%0%0%0%15%+/-4.91,082
Gravis Marketing/Human Events
January 2, 2014
53%31%0%0%0%16%+/-4.0683
Public Policy Polling
December 12-15, 2013
53%26%0%0%0%21%+/-4.21,509
Lake Research
Ocotber 24-29, 2013
50%17%0%0%0%33%+/-4.0603
Voter/Consumer Research
August 18-20, 2013
68%21%0%0%0%8%+/-4.0600
Wenzel Strategies
July 23-24, 2013
59%20%0%0%0%21%+/-3.9624
AVERAGES 55.75% 26% 0.08% 0.08% 0.25% 17.08% +/-4.07 792
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

Issues

Post-primary endorsement

The Republican Party of Kentucky emailed a letter to Matt Bevin and Mitch McConnell that asked both to commit to endorsing whoever goes on to challenge Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) in the general election.[164]

On May 1, 2014, Bevin told supporters that he was angry about McConnell's campaign attacking him while simultaneously seeking a post-primary endorsement.[164]

“You can’t attack everybody and then expect everybody is going to say Kumbaya,” Bevin said.[164]

Cockfighting

Matt Bevin took part in a rally in April 2014 to support the legalization of cockfighting in Kentucky.[165]

Bevin's campaign described the event at the Corbin Arena in Corbin, Kentucky, as a "states' rights rally," and said that Bevin was unaware that it had any ties to cockfighting.[166]

"It was not a cockfighting rally, it was a states' rights rally," said Rachel Semmel, a Bevin spokeswoman.[165]

Campaign aide

McConnell's 2014 re-election campaign hired Dimitri Kesari, a former Ron Paul campaign aide.[167] Kesari was accused of trying to buy the endorsement of an Iowa state Senator in 2012, and faced allegations in November 2013 by a former National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC) employee who said Kesari, who was NRTWC's director of government affairs, broke Iowa state campaign finance rules and misled the Internal Revenue Service about its political activity.[167]

Nosegate

McConnell's 2014 campaign manager, Jesse Benton, was recorded as telling an Iowa activist during a phone call in January 2013:

"Between you and me, I’m sort of holding my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in ’16, so that’s my long vision."[168]

In response, the campaign's official Twitter account posted a picture of Benton and McConnell with Benton holding his nose and the caption: "Nothing smells worse than #Obamacare! #NoseGate."[169]

GOP win

At an event sponsored by the FreedomWorks PAC on February 10, 2014, Bevin asserted that McConnell could not win a general election.[170] At the event, Bevin claimed that he would be only Republican who could beat Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

“We run a tremendous risk of losing this seat in Kentucky to someone who does not represent Kentucky values. We run the risk of losing this seat because of a sense of apathy and a sense of fatigue for the career politician that is my opponent in this primary, Mitch McConnell,” Bevin said.[170]

Campaign contributions

Mitch McConnell (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[97]April 15, 2013$7,383,877.63$1,829,561.34$(572,576.13)$8,640,862.84
July Quarterly[98]July 15, 2013$8,640,862.84$2,203,364.34$(1,266,897.60)$9,577,329.58
October Quarterly[99]October 13, 2013$9,577,329.58$2,269,285.30$(2,081,628.80)$9,764,986.08
Year-end[100]January 31, 2014$9,764,986$2,224,936$(1,110,325)$10,879,596
April Quarterly[101]April 15, 2014$10,879,596$2,376,794$(2,878,255)$10,378,135
Pre-Primary[102]May 8, 2014$10,378,135$1,071,606$(1,304,176)$10,145,566
July Quarterly[103]July 15, 2014$10,145,566$2,038,945$(2,367,642)$9,816,869
October Quarterly[104]October 15, 2014$9,816,869$3,170,999$(7,747,653)$5,240,215
Running totals
$17,185,490.98$(19,329,153.53)
Matt Bevin (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
October Quarterly[171]October 15, 2013$0.00$822,020.60$(657,480.98)$164,539.62
Running totals
$822,020.6$(657,480.98)
Roger Thoney (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[172]April 15, 2013$3,863.19$2,900.00$(5,417.22)$2,345.97
July Quarterly[173]July 15, 2013$2,345.97$0.00$(17.38)$2,328.59
October Quarterly[174]October 15, 2013$2,389.59$0.00$(17.18)$2,311.41
Running totals
$2,900$(5,451.78)
Brad Copas (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[175]April 15, 2014$0$0$(0)$0
Running totals
$0$(0)

Matt Bevin

Third quarter 2013

Matt Bevin raised $222,000 in the third quarter of 2013, in addition to a $600,000 personal loan.[176]

Personal wealth

Bevin filed his personal financial wealth report in November 2013.[177] The reported showed millions in cash and assets that were ready to be loaned or contributed to his campaign, and included $1 million to $5 million in a Bank of America checking account and $500,0001 to $1 million in a Commonwealth Bank & Trust money market account.[177] In total, the report found that Bevin had between roughly $10 million and $50 million.[177]

Mitch McConnell

Third quarter 2013

McConnell raised $2.3 million for his re-election bid in the third quarter of 2013, bringing his grand total for the cycle to $17.7 million.[178]

The 2013 third quarter was McConnell's strongest quarter to date, with him ending the quarter with about $10 million cash on hand from nearly 6,000 donors.[178]

"We are running a presidential-level campaign designed to withstand the millions of dollars in attack ads coming from out-of-state groups and deliver Senator McConnell's message directly to Kentucky voters," campaign manager Jesse Benton said in the statement on October 11, 2013.[178]

Election history

2010

U.S. Senate, Kentucky General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRand Paul 55.7% 755,706
     Democratic Jack Conway 44.2% 600,052
     Independent Billy Ray Wilson 0% 338
Total Votes 1,356,096

2008

On November 4, 2008, Mitch McConnell won re-election to the United States Senate. He defeated Bruce Lunsford (D) in the general election.[179]

U.S. Senate, Kentucky General Election, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMitch McConnell incumbent 53% 953,816
     Democratic Bruce Lunsford 47% 847,005
Total Votes 1,800,821

Noteworthy election events

Ashley Judd

On March 27, 2013, Judd announced via Twitter that she would not run for Senate in 2014.[180][181] In the tweet, she announced her decision stating, “After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family."[180]

See also

External links

References

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