The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Chuck Todd just became a major player in the Kentucky Senate race

Chuck Todd in 2010. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

In the wake of Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes's (D) refusal to answer the Louisville Courier-Journal's question about who she voted for in 2008, pundits blasted the candidate's evasiveness. On Monday, the liberal magazine New Republic declared that Grimes is "running the worst Senate campaign of the year," a bit of hyperbole that nonetheless uses the candidate's non-answer as its first bit of evidence.

But the harshest critique probably came from "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, who appeared on "Morning Joe" on Friday to discuss Grimes's weird reply. "I think she disqualified herself," Todd told host Joe Scarborough — an extremely strong statement.

Miss that segment? Well, don't worry, Kentucky. The campaign of Grimes's opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), will be putting it into heavy rotation with its new ad, titled "Disqualified."

The campaign's John Ashbrook tells The Post that the ad will run throughout Kentucky in a "significant six-figure" ad buy. Which is not a surprise, given the strength of Todd's comments. Last week, a poll from SurveyUSA suggested that Grimes continues to stay close to McConnell in the polls, although the Real Clear Politics polling average in the race gives the incumbent a 3-percentage-point edge.

The good news for Grimes is that Chuck Todd is not a voter in Kentucky, and from a practical standpoint, his opinion that she was disqualified by her refusal to answer isn't legally binding. The bad news for her campaign is that a lot more people are about to learn that this was his opinion — and her position.