Grimes’s Senate race in Kentucky off to rough-and-tumble start


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks with reporters on June 25. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

One of the biggest Senate races of 2014 got off to a combative start on Tuesday, as the campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released an unusual Web video attacking his new Democratic challenger as “not ready for prime time.”

The spot repeatedly rhymes the name of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes with various lines of attack, including “sticks to the party line” and “left-wing mime.” It also splices clips of Grimes saying her name and the word “me” in an attempt to depict her as relentlessly self-promotional.

The video signals that McConnell’s campaign intends to move aggressively against Grimes, who had a rocky start on Monday with an announcement that was criticized as poorly organized and executed.

Grimes showed up more than half an hour late for the event, which had relatively little advance publicity and was not accompanied by the onslaught of social-media buzz and candidate paraphernalia common to modern campaigns. She also spent just five minutes at the news conference, delivering a statement and taking two brief questions.

As late as Tuesday evening, the Democratic hopeful had no official campaign Web site, depriving supporters of a way to contribute to her bid.


Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes speaks with reporters about her decision to challenge U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell during a press conference in Frankfort, Ky., on July 1. (Roger Alford/AP)

One prominent Democratic consultant said Grimes’s announcement was unworthy of a major political campaign. “This will go down as one of the worst rollouts ever,” said the consultant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment.

But other Democrats defended Grimes, noting that few voters pay attention to the minutiae of political campaigns and that the announcement was treated as major news across the Bluegrass State.

Grimes is considered a strong recruit for Democrats in a tough state, which gave President Obama less than 40 percent of the vote in 2012. McConnell, one of the nation’s top Republicans, had $8.6 million in the bank at the end of March.

Democrats note that Grimes won more than 60 percent of the vote in her 2011 race for secretary of state, which was her first political campaign. She also won a primary against an incumbent appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear (D) to get there.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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