Difference between revisions of "United States Senate elections in Kentucky, 2014"

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**The video also highlighted a story noting that the [[Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee]] had been highlighting [[Matt Bevin|Bevin’s]] candidacy, “trying to make trouble” for [[Mitch McConnell|McConnell]].<ref name="youtubevideo"/>
 
**The video also highlighted a story noting that the [[Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee]] had been highlighting [[Matt Bevin|Bevin’s]] candidacy, “trying to make trouble” for [[Mitch McConnell|McConnell]].<ref name="youtubevideo"/>
  
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{{youtube|title=n3_J-bxHOZg|size=250|caption=McConnell's Youtube ad against [[Matt Bevin]], "Unreliable"}}
 
*In a subsequent ad, the McConnell campaign again highlighted [[Matt Bevin|Bevin]] working with [[United States Senate|Sen.]] [[Richard Blumenthal]], saying, “When [[Matt Bevin|Bevin’s]] [[Connecticut]] company needed help, he turned to Washington’s most liberal senator…And then, [[Matt Bevin|Bevin’s]] companies got $200,000 in taxpayer bailouts.”<ref name="youtubevideo"/>
 
*In a subsequent ad, the McConnell campaign again highlighted [[Matt Bevin|Bevin]] working with [[United States Senate|Sen.]] [[Richard Blumenthal]], saying, “When [[Matt Bevin|Bevin’s]] [[Connecticut]] company needed help, he turned to Washington’s most liberal senator…And then, [[Matt Bevin|Bevin’s]] companies got $200,000 in taxpayer bailouts.”<ref name="youtubevideo"/>
 
**The video, which McConnell's campaign officials have said they considered turning into a television ad, ended with a narrator saying that “Bailout [[Matt Bevin|Bevin]] [is] not a [[Kentucky]] conservative.”<ref name="youtubevideo"/>
 
**The video, which McConnell's campaign officials have said they considered turning into a television ad, ended with a narrator saying that “Bailout [[Matt Bevin|Bevin]] [is] not a [[Kentucky]] conservative.”<ref name="youtubevideo"/>
{{youtube|title=Rt9GpFZZcq0|size=250|caption=American Chemistry Council's August 2013 ad, "Support for Sen. Mitch McConnell"}}
 
 
{{youtube|title=n3_J-bxHOZg|size=250|caption=McConnell's Youtube ad against [[Matt Bevin]], "Unreliable"}}
 
  
 
*[[Matt Bevin|Bevin's]] campaign said [[Mitch McConnell|McConnell]] was trying to distract from his own record.  
 
*[[Matt Bevin|Bevin's]] campaign said [[Mitch McConnell|McConnell]] was trying to distract from his own record.  

Revision as of 07:48, 18 June 2014



CongressLogo.png

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]


Other Senate Elections
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2014 U.S. House Elections

Flag of Kentucky.png

Contents

Voters in Kentucky will elect one member to the U.S. Senate in the election on November 4, 2014.

Low approval ratings and a strong challenge from Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) make McConnell a vulnerable incumbent in 2014.[3][4] Despite initial speculation about the threat from Matt Bevin, heading into the primary election Mitch McConnell maintained a substantial lead in the polls and turned his focus to the general election and easily secured the Republican nomination.[5]

Kentucky is a solidly Republican state.[6]

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.[7][8][9]

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.[10]

See also: Kentucky elections, 2014

Incumbent: The election will fill the Senate seat currently held by Mitch McConnell (R). McConnell was first elected in 1984. He is running for re-election to a sixth term.[11]

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

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

In 2008, Mitch McConnell won re-election to a fifth term and became Kentucky's longest serving senator.[34] McConnell spent approximately $20 million on his last election, beating Democrat Bruce Lunsford, a Kentucky businessman, by 6 percentage points.[34]

McConnell served as the Republican Party Whip from 2005 to 2007, before he took on the role of Senate Minority Leader in 2007.[35]

Low approval ratings and a primary challenge from tea-party backed Matt Bevin make McConell a vulnerable incumbent in 2014.[3] McConnell was also troubled by the lack of backing from national GOP candidates.[36]

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.[37] 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.[38] 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. By the end of 2013, Lundergan Grimes continued to impress with fundraising figures.[39]

Primary election

Primary challenge

Reports initially circulated in July 2013 that Matt Bevin, an investment executive based in Louisville who had reportedly been weighing the possibility of a Republican primary challenge against incumbent McConnell, booked ads in the Louisville market and also began reserving time in Bowling Green.[40]

In a July 2013 statement, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton dismissed Matt Bevin's campaign as a minor irritant.[40]Matthew Griswold Bevin is not a Kentucky Conservative, he is merely an East Coast con man. While it is sad to see someone who claims to be a Republican doing Barack Obama’s bidding, his campaign is nothing more than a nuisance,” Benton said.[40]

Prior to his official announcement, Bevin spoke with leaders of at least three national right-leaning advocacy groups: the Club for Growth, the Jim DeMint-founded Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project, a small-government group chaired by former Kansas Rep. Jim Ryun.[41]

Bevin officially announced his candidacy on July 24, 2013, at the state capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky. From there, he began a three day tour with eight campaign stops scheduled.[40] Bevin is a political newcomer, but has significant personal wealth to use against incumbent McConnell in the primary.[40]

Re-election declaration

A news report released on November 30, 2012, featured Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell stating his intentions to seek re-election to a sixth term in 2014. “I’m running. Read my lips, I’m running,” he said.[42]

McConnell's re-election prospects looked grim as of the following January, when Politico reported that an unholy alliance had formed between individual, organizational Democratic entities and tea party activists bent on his defeat. According to the report, a coalition of influential Democratic individuals and organizations would offer strategic assistance to a tea party candidate willing to challenge McConnell in the Republican primary election. Even if McConnell survives the primary challenge, the Democrats reason, it will weaken him for battle in the general election. The Democratic party already has a voter registration advantage in Kentucky, and party members involved in the strategy believe that by lending financial and organizational support to a formidable Republican primary candidate, they can truly maximize their chances of electing a Democrat to the U.S. Senate seat. "What we’re finding — at least in this stage of the race — we’re finding that our interests align. It’s unusual," said Keith Rouda, a field organizer with the liberal group MoveOn and the Democratic super PAC, Progress Kentucky.[43]

As of February 2013, more than a year prior to the primary election, McConnell already had $6.8 million in the bank for his re-election.[34]

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.[44] 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.”[44][45]
    • “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.”[44]
  • Former Republican Nominee for Kentucky Auditor John Kemper endorsed Bevin on November 7, 2013.[47]
  • Former Republican Gubernatorial Nominee Larry Forgy endorsed Bevin on November 12, 2013.[48]
  • Angela Minter, Executive Director of Sisters for Life, endorsed Bevin on January 20, 2014.[49]
  • 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.[50]
    • “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."[50]
  • Conservative talk radio show host Mandy Connell endorsed Bevin on March 5, 2014.[51]

Media


Mitch McConnell's July 24, 2013, ad, "Bailout Bevin."

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."[53]
    • 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."[54]
  • 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.[55]
    • 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."[55]
  • 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.[56]
  • 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.”[57]
    • 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.”[57]
  • 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.[58]
  • 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."[59]
    • 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.[60][59]
    • 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."[59]

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.[61] 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.[61]
  • 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.[62]
  • Duke basketball: In a campaign ad released on March 25, 2014, McConnell's campaign highlighted Kentucky's horse racing, bluegrass and basketball.[63] 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.[63][64]
    • 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."[63]
    • 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.[65] The NCAA does not permit the use of a student-athlete's image or likeness while they are still competing as amateurs.[65]
    • 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."[65]
    • 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.”[66]
  • 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.[67]

McConnell v. Bevin


Matt Bevin's August 7, 2013, ad, "Finest"

McConnell's second ad against Matt Bevin, "Delinquent"
  • McConnell's campaign launched its second ad against primary challenger Matt Bevin on August 5, 2013.[68]
    • The ad hit Bevin for tax issues and labeled him “Bailout Bevin.”[68][69][70][71]
    • 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.[69]
    • "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.[69]
  • McConnell’s campaign started running ads against Bevin before he even launched his campaign.[68]
    • 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.[72][73]
    • 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."[72][73]
  • On August 12, 2013, McConnell released a 75-second YouTube video built around footage of Matt Bevin telling Democrats during the Fancy Farm picnic in early August 2013, “We’re on the same team here, I’ll tell you that much.”[74]

McConnell's Youtube ad against Matt Bevin, "Unreliable"
  • 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.”[74]
    • 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.”[74]
  • 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.[74]

Outside groups

KOC

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

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

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.[75][76]

As a non-profit organization, its political activity is restricted to issue-focused ads that do not directly endorse one candidate over another.[75]

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."[75]

The group released an ad on April 1, 2014, that focused on the death tax.[77] A farmer featured in the ad claimed that the death tax makes it harder to pass his land onto his family after he dies.[77][78]

Polls

Republican Primary

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

Bevin attacks Grimes

Tea party backed primary candidate Matt Bevin described Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) as a young woman short on life experience at a May 2014 campaign event in Madisonville, Kentucky.[79]

Bevin explained that he was better qualified than Grimes because, in his words, she is just a collection of demographics rather than a serious candidate.[79]

Bevin reportedly said:[79]

"I'm a stronger candidate largely because she runs on four things. She runs on some variation of: she’s young, she’s new, is a woman, and she’s not Mitch McConnell. That’s essentially what she’s got, in some form or fashion. And all those are true enough, and all of those, while they’re not substantive, they’re good enough to beat Mitch McConnell. [...] The reality is I negate essentially her only competitive advantages. She’s then forced to run against me by talking about issues, by talking about vision, by talking about life experience. And she really has none of the above on any of those fronts, she really doesn't. She’s a nice enough person, I’ve met her on several occasions on the campaign trail, seems nice enough, but completely devoid of what it takes for us."

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.[80]

On May 1, 2014, Bevin told supporters that he was angry about McConnell's campaign attacking him while simultaneously seeking a post-primary endorsement.[80]

“You can’t attack everybody and then expect everybody is going to say Kumbaya,” Bevin said.[80]

Bevin spokeswoman leaves

Less than a month prior to the primary showdown with Mitch McConnell, Matt Bevin lost his chief spokeswoman, Rachel Semmel.[81]

“Rachel has moved back to D.C. to pursue another career opportunity and is no longer with the campaign. The Bevin campaign is grateful for all she did for the team and wishes Rachel the best in her future endeavors,” Sarah Durand, a campaign spokeswoman, said.[81]

Cockfighting

Matt Bevin took part in a rally in April 2014 to support the legalization of cockfighting in Kentucky.[82]

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.[83]

"It was not a cockfighting rally, it was a states' rights rally," said Rachel Semmel, a Bevin spokeswoman.[82]

TARP funding

In February 2014, Bevin called the 2008 federal bailout of banks and Wall Street giants “irresponsible” and says he would have opposed it.[84] The comments came after prior backing by Bevin in 2008 when he supported the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the Federal Reserve’s decision to begin buying commercial paper issued by banks.[84]

Bevin campaign spokeswoman Rachel Semmel said in a statement, “Matt has always opposed the TARP bailout and similar misuses of taxpayer dollars."[84]

Campaign aide

McConnell's 2014 re-election campaign hired Dimitri Kesari, a former Ron Paul campaign aide.[85] 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.[85]

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."[86]

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."[87]

Syria

According to a report by The Hill in September 2013, challenger Matt Bevin was among four Republican senate candidates who had come out against intervening in Syria while the incumbent challenger, in this case McConnell, remained undecided.[88] Following the report, McConnell announced that he would vote against a resolution authorizing the use of force against Syrian President Bashar Assad.[89]

“I will be voting against this resolution -- a vital national security risk is clearly not at play," McConnell said on September 10, 2013, in a Senate floor speech after laying out in detail how he thought Obama had botched the issue. "There are just too many unanswered questions about our long-term strategy in Syria, including the fact that this proposal is utterly detached from a wider strategy to end the civil war there, and on the specific question of deterring the use of chemical weapons, the president’s proposal appears to be based on a contradiction...Either we will strike targets that threaten the stability of the regime — something the president says he does not intend to do — or we will execute a strike so narrow as to be a mere demonstration," McConnell said, saying the lack of a clear plan was a serious problem.[89]

"We cannot ignore the unintended consequences of our actions," he added.[89]

GOP win

At an event sponsored by the FreedomWorks PAC on February 10, 2014, Bevin asserted that McConnell could not win a general election.[90] 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.[90]

Campaign contributions

Mitch McConnell (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[91]April 15, 2013$7,383,877.63$1,829,561.34$(572,576.13)$8,640,862.84
July Quarterly[92]July 15, 2013$8,640,862.84$2,203,364.34$(1,266,897.60)$9,577,329.58
October Quarterly[93]October 13, 2013$9,577,329.58$2,269,285.30$(2,081,628.80)$9,764,986.08
Year-end[94]January 31, 2014$9,764,986$2,224,936$(1,110,325)$10,879,596
April Quarterly[95]April 15, 2014$10,879,596$2,376,794$(2,878,255)$10,378,135
Pre-Primary[96]May 8, 2014$10,378,135$1,071,606$(1,304,176)$10,145,566
July Quarterly[97]July 15, 2014$10,145,566$2,038,945$(2,367,642)$9,816,869
October Quarterly[98]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[99]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[100]April 15, 2013$3,863.19$2,900.00$(5,417.22)$2,345.97
July Quarterly[101]July 15, 2013$2,345.97$0.00$(17.38)$2,328.59
October Quarterly[102]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[103]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.[104]

Personal wealth

Bevin filed his personal financial wealth report in November 2013.[105] 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.[105] In total, the report found that Bevin had between roughly $10 million and $50 million.[105]

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.[106]

The 2013 third quarter is McConnell's strongest quarter to date, with him ending the quarter with about $10 million cash on hand from nearly 6,000 donors.[106]

"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.[106]

Second quarter 2013

Incumbent Mitch McConnell raised $2.2 million in the second quarter of 2013, growing his 2014 campaign account to $9.6 million, as of July 11, 2013.[107][108]

According to reports, in 2014 Mitch McConnell’s re-election bid may result in the first Senate contest to pass the $100 million mark.[109]

In 2008, McConnell spent slightly more than $21 million — including a $2 million personal loan — to beat Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford, who pumped nearly $8.6 million of his own money into the race.[109]

In August 2013, McConnell was already ahead of his 2008 fundraising pace, having collected nearly $14 million for the 2014 election, and with $9.6 million cash-on-hand.[109] Unlike in 2008, McConnell will face a primary challenge from wealthy businessman Matt Bevin.[109] While it’s unclear how much of his own money Bevin will spend, those who have done some digging into his wealth — he had yet to file financial disclosure statements for his Senate bid as of August 2013 — believe that he has the capacity to put several million dollars into the race.[109]

McConnell allies and other Republican observers well versed in fundraising estimate that Sen. McConnell will end up raising and spending somewhere between $30 million and $35 million battling Bevin in the primary and Grimes in the general election.[109]

Pro McConnell super PAC

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a pro-Mitch McConnell super PAC, raised $1.2 million between the time it was created in April 2013 through July 2013, bringing in donations from big names such as Donald Trump and deceased megadonor Bob Perry.[110]

Trump contributed $50,000 and Perry, who died in April 2013, gave $100,000, according to reports filed July 28, 2013, with the Federal Election Commission. “We looked into this and found a clerical error in the report,” Caleb Crosby, treasurer for the group, said. “Our records reflect that we actually received the check on April 12. We have amended the report to reflect the correct information.”

Other major Republican donors who gave to the super PAC include John Childs, a private-equity investor who gave $4.2 million in the 2012 election cycle, and Philip Geier, who gave nearly $2 million in 2012.[110]

The super PAC, as of July 2013, spent $370,000, most of which went toward media placement to benefit McConnell. At the end of July 2013, it had more than $800,000 in the bank.[110]

Progress Kentucky

The controversial super PAC Progress Kentucky, whose officials were investigated for bugging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, announced in August 2013 that the Federal Election Commission approved its request to shut down.[111]

The group — which attracted plenty of national media attention — ultimately failed to raise enough campaign cash to be a viable force in the Kentucky Senate race.[111]

One of the group’s officials came under investigation after reportedly bragging to a local Democratic official that the group had bugged McConnell's office.[111] A tape of a secret strategy session where McConnell and his operatives discussed potential opponents was published in Mother Jones in early 2013.[111]

The bugging was only the latest controversy from the group. The super PAC first attracted national attention for a racially charged tweet about McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao.[111] The tweet alleged that Chao, who is Chinese-American, was advising McConnell on the outsourcing of jobs to China.[111] After the McConnell campaign accused the PAC of race-bating, the PAC apologized and erased the offending tweet.[111]

As of the second quarter finance report of 2013, Progress Kentucky raised just over $14,000. As a super PAC it was allowed to collect unlimited sums of campaign cash.[111] The group had just over $1,000 in the bank at the end of June 2013.[111]

General election

Key votes

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

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Voted "Yes" 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.[112] 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.[113]

McConnell statement
See also: United States budget debate, 2013#Government Shutdown and Default Prevention Act

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 plans to donate compensation earned during the shutdown to Wayside Christian Mission in Louisville.[114]

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.[115]

Issues

Senate schedule

In June 2014, McConnell campaigned on the idea that he would make the Senate work again if Republicans win majority control in November.[116]

McConnell said if he gained the Senate Majority Leader position in 2014, he would simply force his colleagues to put in longer hours and even work Fridays.[116]

“We’d work longer days and weeks using the clock to force consensus...If the leader brings up a bill on Monday and really wants to finish it, the fatigue factor is the best tool you have. Rather than try to shut everybody out and making everybody mad, you just run the clock," McConnell said at a speech at the American Enterprise Institute.[116]

McConnell added that as senators are forced to work later and later into the evening, they usually begin to withdraw their proposals to amend legislation and allow bills to proceed to final votes.[116]

Controversy

Check from Woody Allen

On February 10, 2014, The Kentucky Republican Party called on Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) to return a $500 contribution from filmmaker Woody Allen, who faces renewed child molestation allegations from his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow.[117] Allen wrote a $500 check to Grimes's campaign on September 26, 2013.[117]

The group also noted that Grimes also took money from a Democratic state representative who was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment.[117]

“If she doesn’t return the donations, we can only assume she either condones sexual harassment and disgustingly inappropriate behavior in the workplace, or she’s more concerned with her liberal allies’ campaign cash than the women of Kentucky,” Kentucky Republican Party spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper said in a statement.[117]

Stumbo's comments

Greg Stumbo's remarks at a January 16, 2014, event for Lundergan Grimes.

At a campaign event for Alison Lundergan Grimes on January 16, 2014, Kentucky Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo likened defeating incumbent Mitch McConnell to liberating Europe from Nazi control.[118]

“It reminded me of the feeling our troops must have had when they liberated the European nations after World War II. Can you imagine what it felt like that you were liberating a country? Well, you’re about to liberate your state from the worst reign of misabuse that we’ve seen in the last 30 years” Stumbo said[118]

Republican candidate Matt Bevin responded to the remarks in a statement on January 20, 2014.

“Despite my call to elevate the tenor of this campaign’s debate to something higher than that of a typical race for eighth-grade class president, the other candidates in this race have continued to ignore the issues. From noise about Nazis, to protective eyewear, to photoshop and Obama girl, Mitch McConnell and Alison Grimes are insulting each other and all Kentuckians by ignoring what really matters,” Bevin said.[118]

Coal industry

Green-minded groups and donors may face a difficult decision in 2014 over whether to support Alison Lundergan Grimes, stemming from her controversial views on environmental issues.[119]

Lundergan Grimes has criticized President Barack Obama for taking “direct aim at Kentucky’s coal industry” and faulted proposed EPA carbon dioxide controls of existing power plants.[119] Kentucky is the nation’s third top coal producing state, and one that derives nearly all its electricity from the fuel.[119]

Despite her viewpoints, many top Democratic donors are choosing to still support her 2014 campaign.[119]

“It is far better to win the Senate than have every senator on the same page,” Susie Tompkins Buell, a top Democratic donor, said in an email after an October 2013 fundraiser she and her husband, Mark, held for Grimes at their California home. “We can’t always be idealistic. Practicality is the political reality.”[119]

McConnell coal ad

McConnell's February 2014 ad focused on coal.

McConnell's campaign released an ad on February 27, 2014, 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.[120]

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.[121]

"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.[121]

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."[121]

The group released a second ad on February 18, 2014. The ad described McConnell as fighting against “Obamacare” and for Kentucky’s future.[122] While the group did not disclose the exact amount of the ad buy, it was described as "significant."[122]

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."[123]

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.[123]

“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.[123]

"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.[123]

Fair pay

Lundergan Grimes criticized Mitch McConnell for claiming in November 2013 he has worked for fair pay for women throughout his career.[124]

In a November 2013 interview with the Associated Press, a McConnell aide said he was a longtime advocate for equal pay.[124]

"As the father of three daughters, fair pay for women is more than a talking point for Sen. McConnell," campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said. "It's something he's worked to achieve his entire career by setting an example for others and promoting thoughtful policies to ensure talent overcomes bias."[124]

However, McConnell twice voted against both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act before Congress ultimately passed the Fair Pay Act.[124]

"As Kentucky's first woman Senator, Alison Lundergan Grimes will continue being a staunch advocate for women and their families," Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton wrote a memo on November 26, 2013. "She will seek common ground and work across the aisle for solutions that put Kentucky and our country back on the right track. The contrast with Mitch McConnell could not be starker."

On November 26, 2013, Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the fair pay legislation, announced her support for Grimes in the 2014 Senate race.[124]

"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," she wrote in a fundraising email for the Grimes campaign. "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."[124]

Violence Against Women Act

McConnell’s re-election campaign touted his support for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), despite his consistent record of voting against the anti-domestic violence legislation.[125]

A press packet that McConnell’s spokeswoman distributed to reporters at an event on August 30, 2013, titled “Women For Team Mitch” features testimonials from Kentucky women.[125] A quote, attributed to a woman named Angela Leet in Jefferson County, read, “Mitch was the co-sponsor of the original Violence Against Women Act- and continues to advocate for stronger policies to protect women. I am proud to call him my senator.”[125]

McConnell did cosponsor a version of the Violence Against Woman Act in 1991, which never received a Senate vote.[125] By the time the measure came up again in 1993, McConnell was no longer a cosponsor, and in fact voted against final passage of the bill. In 2005, it was renewed by an unrecorded voice vote. In 2012, McConnell voted against the Senate-passed VAWA, which died in the House. Then early in 2013, he again voted against VAWA re-authorization, which passed the Senate by a vote of 78-22, and eventually passed the House and was signed into law.[125] McConnell has supported a scaled-back GOP alternative to VAWA which excludes protections for gays, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants who suffer from domestic abuse.[125]

Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes accused McConnell of deception. “The women of Kentucky will not be fooled by Senator McConnell’s failed leadership and deception when it comes to issues important to women and their families,” Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said. “His actions read loud and clear: McConnell repeatedly voted against equal pay for equal work, the Violence Against Women Act and now turns to lies to cover his shameful record.”[125]

Media

On April 18, 2013, McConnell's campaign released a new ad pointing to a series of “dirty” attacks by Democratic outside groups.[126] It was the second occasion McConnell’s campaign launched an ad portraying him as the victim.[126] 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.[126]

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."[127]


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 released another ad, "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.[128]
    • "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.[129]
  • Kentuckians for Strong Leadership released an ad in November 2013 tying Grimes to the President Barack Obama's controversial healthcare promise. The cost to air the ad on broadcast and cable television is $340,000.[130]
    • 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.[130]
    • “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.[130]
  • On September 27, 2013, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership released another campaign ad that attackedMcConnell's general election challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes. The ad, costing approximately $75,000, ran statewide.[131] It touts McConnell’s opposition to Obamacare before making the connection between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Grimes.[131]
    • “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.[131]

Kentucky Opportunity Coalition

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 attempts to show the two “working together to stop Obamacare.”[135]

“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.”[135]

Rhymes with Grimes


McConnell's mocking ad, "What Rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes?"

In a Web video posted on July 2, 2013, McConnell's campaign took aim at Grimes by making her name the punchline of the video. The nearly two-minute video asks, "What rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes?"

McConnell's video responds to its own question with these zingers: "Not ready for prime time," "Sticks to the party line," and "Left wing mime."[136]

The video was a reminder of Grimes' own ad from her successful 2011 race in Kentucky that featured her two grandmothers, Elsie Case and Thelma Lundergan McHugh.[136] In that ad, the grandmas are seen typing away at laptops trying to come up with ads for the candidate. They introduce Grimes by her full name and joked, "It's a long name." At the end of the 2011 ad, Case — Grimes' maternal grandmother — asks, "What rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes?"[136]

DSCC

It was announced on July 19, 2013, that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made an online ad buy against McConnell.[108] The ads aimed at hitting McConnell as the “guardian of gridlock,” pointing to the Senate GOP’s frequent filibuster threats.[108]

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.[108]

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.[137] 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 is part of the Senate Majority PAC's "30 Years is Too Long Campaign" against McConnell that started in June 2013.[138] The ad hammers McConnell for calling himself "the guardian of gridlock," and closely echoes attacks from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has launched its own ongoing campaign hitting McConnell for congressional inactivity.[137]

"He calls himself the 'guardian of gridlock,' grinding the Senate to a halt even when it hurts Kentucky," a narrator says in the ad.[137]

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 highlights the disastrous record of failure and gridlock that Mitch McConnell has racked up in his 10,000 days as a U.S. Senator. The ad also fights back against the latest misleading advertising from “Kentuckians for Strong Leadership.”[139]


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.[140]
    • 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."[140]
  • Grimes launched her first television ad of the campaign on May 8, 2014.[141]
    • The ad highlighted Grimes' efforts to improve voting procedures for the state’s overseas military service members.[141]
    • 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.[142]
    • “Because of Alison, that will never happen again. Washington should work this way,” Lyne Dickey of Paducah, Kentucky, said in the ad.[141]
  • 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 and warning Sen. Mitch McConnell that “I don’t scare easy.”[143][144][145][146]
    • The video, which ran nearly 4 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?”[143] Since her July 1 announcement, McConnell’s campaign and the Kentucky GOP have accused her of going into hiding and repeatedly asked, “Where’s Alison?”[143] Grimes responds in the ad saying, "Your campaign wants to play silly games about where I am and where I stand. Well I'm right here in Kentucky senator, where I'll be holding you accountable."[147]

ACC

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced on August 13, 2013, that the group would spend $400,000 on commercials boosting Mitch McConnell.[148]

A spokeswoman for the Washington-based association of chemical companies confirms that they are making a six-figure buy in August 2013 to run issue ads highlighting the Republican’s “work to promote economic growth and policies that are important to American manufacturers.”[148] In the ads, McConnell is presented as a strong supporter of new energy production, small business and family farms.[148]

“These days in Washington, there are people who like to talk, and leaders like Mitch McConnell who know how to get results,” the narrator says. “Less government, more jobs. Call and tell Mitch McConnell his leadership in Washington is making a difference here at home.”[148]

The group, led by former Rep. Cal Dooley, is running similar ads this summer in support of Sen. Kay Hagan, Sen. Tom Udall, Rep. Fred Upton and Rep. Mike Simpson.[148]

The McConnell spot is running in the Louisville, Lexington and Bowling Green markets.[148]

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 support a conservative effort to defund Obamacare.[149]
    • "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.[149]
  • 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 asks viewers to call McConnell and urge him him to kill the legislation. "We don't want excuses," reads a statement from the group. "We want results."[150] It has also launched a petition at StopAmnestyMitch.com.[150]
  • The SCF announced on August 26, 2013, that spent nearly $50,000 on a 60-second commercial that will begin airing on August 27, 2013, in Kentucky, where McConnell is locked in a tough race for a sixth term.[151]
    • "Republicans in Congress can stop Obamacare by refusing to fund it, but Senator Mitch McConnell refuses to lead the fight," says the ad.[151][152]
    • "The Obamacare bill stinks, and holding your nose won't make it any better," the commercial says, referring to an incident earlier in August 2013.[151][152]
  • 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 believes in McConnell and is 100 percent committed to his re-election.[151]

The Senate Conservatives Fund ad, "Nothing."
  • In July 2013, executive director Matt Hoskins said the group was open to backing Bevin.[152][151] The group said it was "waiting to see if the grassroots in Kentucky unite" behind Bevin.[151]
  • In early September 2013 the SCF launched $340,000 in television ads attacking McConnell for not taking a hardline stance on defunding the health care law.[153]The television ad will air from September 6-17, 2013.[153] It comes after nearly $47,000 was spent in August 2013 attacking McConnell in radio ads.[153]
    • “Obamacare starts in October but Congress can stop its funding,” the ad says. “What’s Mitch McConnell doing? Nothing. McConnell is the Senate Republican leader, but he refuses to lead on defunding Obamacare. What good is a leader like that?”
  • The group pressured members of Congress not to vote for any spending bills this fall that include funding for the Affordable Care Act.[153] McConnell has not signed a letter by Mike Lee that pledges to oppose any continuing resolution that funds the law.[153] More than a dozen Republican senators have signed on.[153]
    • “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.”[153]

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.[154] 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."[154]
    • 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."[154]

PCCC

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee began running a new television ad on August 15, 2013, attacking Mitch McConnell's stance on Social Security.[155]


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

The ad features Kirk Gillenwaters, a Kentucky labor activist who previously appeared in a radio ad against McConnell in 2008.[155]

"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 says. "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."[155]

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.[155]

McConnell, like President Barack Obama, has 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.[155]

"I think a place to talk is on things like chained CPI," McConnell said in an interview in July 2013.[155]

MIT controversy


The Madison Project's first radio ad, "Would a Conservative?"

Mitch McConnell's August 20, 2013, ad against Matt Bevin, "M.I.T."

McConnell launched a TV ad buy against primary challenger Matt Bevin that “will be in the six-figure range,” according to his campaign on August 20, 2013. Back in March 2013, reports circulated that Bevin had “come under scrutiny for claiming educational ties to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Bevin’s LinkedIn page indicated he was an MIT graduate or graduate of an MIT-affiliated program but school officials say the three-week seminar he attended has no formal link to the school."[156][157]The 30-second ad references the report as a female narrator asks, “Can you believe Bailout Bevin on anything?”[156] Bevin's LinkedIn page has been revised to clarify that he did not graduate from MIT or an MIT-affiliated program.[157]

The Madison Project

The conservative group, the Madison Project, launched its first radio ad criticizing Mitch McConnell for his voting record on August 26, 2013.[44][158]

Led by former Rep. Jim Ryun (R), the Madison Project endorsed McConnell’s primary challenger Matt Bevin in July 2013, and is running what they say will be the first of many statewide ads against the incumbent.[44]

The ad is a relatively small $30,000 ad buy, but the 60-second radio ad slams McConnell’s votes on immigration reform, Wall Street bailouts and the debt ceiling.[44]

“For years, McConnell has succeeded in playing the old Washington double-game of talking the conservative talk at home, while undermining conservatives in the Senate,” the Madison Project’s Drew Ryun said in a statement.[44]

In response, McConnell's released a statement.[159] "All you need to know about this group is that they're supporting a tax delinquent bailout artist who lies on his resume over the most conservative Republican Leader in modern history," says McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore. "Apparently Matt Bailout Bevin has a small cadre of fringe friends in Washington who have concluded that conservative governance isn't half as important as making money off his quixotic Senate campaign even though polling shows Mitch winning by a staggering 68-21 margin."[159]

Patriot Majority PAC

The Patriot Majority PAC announced an ad buy targeting Mitch McConnell on October 30, 2013.[160] The ad notes that the government shutdown cost the country $24 billion and puts the blame for the shutdown on the GOP leaders.[160] The group spent $260,000 on the ad in Kentucky.[160]


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.[121]

"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.[121]

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."[121]

The group released a second ad on February 18, 2014. The ad described McConnell as fighting against “Obamacare” and for Kentucky’s future.[122] While the group did not disclose the exact amount of the ad buy, it was described as "significant."[122]


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.[161] The ad featured a Paducah Energy Worker and survivor of throat cancer, who praised McConnell for his efforts to help sick workers.[161][162]

"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.[161]

Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes's campaign noted that McConnell ran a similar ad featuring the same worker in 2008.[161]

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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was tied with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes according to a May 2013 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC backing Democratic Senate candidates. The poll found McConnell and Grimes tied at 45 percent each.[163][164]

A poll from Wenzel Strategies conducted June 1-2, 2013, polled 623 people and found Mitch McConnell (R) ahead of Secretary of State Grimes 47 percent to 40 percent. McConnell beat former Miss America Heather French Henry 45 percent to 40 percent and beat Louisville environmental lawyer Tom Fitzgerald 46 percent to 29 percent according to the poll.[165][166]

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 forums

Sen. Mitch McConnell faced off against Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes at the heavily anticipated 133rd Fancy Farm political forum on August 3, 2013.[167] The candidates both spoke at the political forum that was broadcast nationwide on C-SPAN and online by Kentucky Education Television.[167]

McConnell, who spoke first, avoided direct attacks on his opponent, instead speaking in broad strokes saying, “Over the next 15 months, we are going to decide what kind of America we want … Barack Obama’s vision for America or Kentucky’s. Kentucky’s voice is the voice of opposition to the Obama agenda, and I’m proud of that. That’s why every liberal in America is out to beat us next year.”[167]

Grimes, who followed Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) on stage, took aim at McConnell, saying, “Sen. McConnell is the most unpopular Senator among Democrats but Republicans, as well...There’s a reason he’s so disliked. There is a disease of dysfunction in Washington, D.C., and after 30 years, Sen. McConnell is in the center of it. As long as he remains in D.C., D.C. will stand for dysfunctional capitol.”[167]

The event was the first public encounter between incumbent and challenger in the high-profile race and thrust the annual Fancy Farm picnic into the national spotlight.[167]

Campaign donors

Candidates for Congress are 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[168]October 13, 2013$0.00$2,527,348.31$(562,755.81)$1,964,542.50
Year-end[169]January 31, 2014$1,964,542.50$2,070,322.75$(724,348.25)$3,310,517.00
April Quarterly[170]April 15, 2014$3,310,517.00$2,706,433.34$(1,163,356.78)$4,853,593.56
Pre-Primary[171]May 8, 2014$4,853,593.56$785,015.22$(766,150.62)$4,872,458.16
July Quarterly[172]July 15, 2014$4,872,601$3,263,641$(1,962,011)$6,174,231
October Quarterly[173]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[91]April 15, 2013$7,383,877.63$1,829,561.34$(572,576.13)$8,640,862.84
July Quarterly[92]July 15, 2013$8,640,862.84$2,203,364.34$(1,266,897.60)$9,577,329.58
October Quarterly[93]October 13, 2013$9,577,329.58$2,269,285.30$(2,081,628.80)$9,764,986.08
Year-end[94]January 31, 2014$9,764,986$2,224,936$(1,110,325)$10,879,596
April Quarterly[95]April 15, 2014$10,879,596$2,376,794$(2,878,255)$10,378,135
Pre-Primary[96]May 8, 2014$10,378,135$1,071,606$(1,304,176)$10,145,566
July Quarterly[97]July 15, 2014$10,145,566$2,038,945$(2,367,642)$9,816,869
October Quarterly[98]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

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and his wife hosted a fundraising reception for Lundergan Grimes on October 27, 2013.[174]

“Michael and I are proud to support Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate who are ready to work hard and bring common sense solutions to Washington, D.C.” Bennet’s wife, Susan Daggett, wrote in a message about the event, adding Lundergan Grimes is “as exciting a candidate as Kentucky has seen in years.”[174]

In the third quarter of 2013, her first three months in the race, she slightly outraised McConnell, bringing in $2.5 million to his $2.3 million.[174] Despite the third quarter fundraising McConnell still had more campaign funds overall, with $10 million cash on hand to her $2 million.[174]

In the first quarter of 2014, Grimes brought in $2.7 million--slightly more than McConnell's $2.4 million.[175][176]

Outside groups

Of the $3.3 million Kentuckians for Strong Leadership had raised as of May 2014, just $172,000 has come from addresses in Kentucky. Most of that — $125,000 — came from health insurance giant Humana founder David A. Jones Sr.[129]

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.[177] The endorsement was expected to help him defend himself as some tea party activists endorsed his primary challenger in his 2014 re-election campaign.[177]
    • 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.”[177]
  • Huck PAC endorsed Mitch McConnell on December 2, 2013.[178]
  • TheTeaParty.net, a national tea party group, declared in May 2013 its support for McConnell in his 2014 re-election bid.[177]
  • Senator Rand Paul declared his support for incumbent Mitch McConnell in his primary battle against challenger Matt Bevin.[179] 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 progresses Paul increasingly must perform a careful balancing act: Show complete support for McConnell, while avoiding alienating the same tea party supporters who helped him in 2010 and whom he’ll need in 2016.[179]
  • The Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) endorsed McConnell on October 12, 2013.[181]
  • Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced on October 20, 2013, his endorsement for McConnell over Matt Bevin, his tea party challenger.[46]
    • When asked if he supports 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."[46]
  • The Kentucky Federation of College Republicans endorsed McConnell on November 12, 2013.[182]
  • The National Federation of Independent Business endorsed McConnell on February 14, 2014.[183]
  • Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton endorsed McConnell on June 9, 2014.[185]
    • “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.[186]

Alison Lundergan Grimes


President Clinton's video endorsement for Alison Lundergan Grimes, "A Message from President Clinton."
  • Former President Bill Clinton pledged his support for Alison Lundergan Grimes in February 2014.[188][189] He attended a campaign event in Louisville for Alison Lundergan Grimes on February 25, 2014, where he reportedly helped her raise approximately $700,000.[190][191]
    • “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.[188]
  • In a statement on August 21, 2013, EMILY's List released its endorsement for Lundergan Grimes.[193]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.[193] “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.”[193]
  • Black Eyed Peas singer, will.i.am, appeared at a fundraiser for Alison Lundergan Grimes on September 20, 2013.[194]
    • 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.”[194]
    • 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.[194]
  • On November 26, 2013, Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the fair pay legislation, announced her support for Grimes in the 2014 Senate race.[124]
    • "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.[124]

Race ratings

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. By the end of 2013, Grimes continued to impress with fundraising figures.[195]

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.[196]

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

Actress Ashley Judd reportedly was considering a run against McConnell in 2014.[197] Judd reportedly spoke with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) about the possibility of a run, and discussed a potential bid with a Democratic pollster and began to conduct opposition research on herself to see where she’s most vulnerable in the state.[197]

Initially, whether Judd jumped into the race remained far from certain. She was also reportedly weighing whether to wait until 2016 to instead take on freshman Sen. Rand Paul.[197] If Judd eventually does become a candidate, she would be the biggest celebrity to run for the U.S. Senate since Al Franken’s successful 2008 bid for the Minnesota seat.[197]

Judd lives in Tennessee and would have to re-establish a residence in Kentucky before she could challenge McConnell in his 2014 re-election bid.[34][197]

A survey by Republican firm Harper Polling, commissioned by a former McConnell aide, found McConnell received 49 percent of the vote, compared to 40 percent for Judd.[198]

In early March 2013, reports circulated of Judd meeting with well-financed Democratic donors and venturing to Washington D.C for more public engagements.[199] According to Don Peebles, Chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corporation, a member of President Obama's National Finance Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a Judd run is likely much more than a Hollywood fantasy.[199]

Peebles stated, "There looks to be a lot of noise around her running and she's been active in commenting on politics of the day so it is certainly possible. Senate Minority Leader McConnell's approval ratings are low, and a lot of reports show that he is vulnerable to a challenge. While Kentucky leans right, it is not as conservative as most of its neighbors and the voters of Kentucky may be looking to send a message that they don't feel fairly represented by Minority Leader McConnell."[199]

Decision not to run

On March 27, 2013, Judd announced via Twitter that she would not run for Senate in 2014.[200][201] 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."[200]

See also

External links

References

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