July 24, 2013 — Based on what we have seen and heard in the last few weeks, the Mitch McConnell-Alison Lundergan Grimes race for the U. S. Senate in 2014 will be a humdinger.
It also promises to be the most expensive statewide campaign in Kentucky history with some estimates in the range of $40 million.
McConnell spent $20 million to keep his seat for a fifth term in 2008. He already has raised $15 million for 2014 and the primary still is nine months away.
Grimes has barely started to raise money and an effort to convince county clerks to donate to her campaign misfired badly last week when the state’s Republican clerks complained.
She also has been criticized for a less-than-spectacular announcement event on a sweltering Frankfort day in a building without air conditioning.
And she did it with no other Democratic officeholders, such as Gov. Steve Beshear, standing there as cheerleaders.
And, to some, the worst miscue was that she only had a very modest campaign website online at the time.
Then she literally disappeared from public view for a few days to organize her campaign staff and get ready for a formal announcement of her intention to send McConnell back to Louisville after 30 years in Washington.
The senator also drew some negatives as the Washington press corps claimed he was not a key player in the compromise agreement which averted a showdown over the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes to shut off debate on the Senate floor.
Both McConnell and Grimes say they will participate in the annual Fancy Farm political picnic on Saturday, Aug. 3, in far Western Kentucky.
Based on what the two have said to and about each other at this early stage of the campaign, Fancy Farm should be a donnybrook.
We can expect each candidate to have signs and vocal supporters who will cheer their choice while heckling their opponent.
It is political theatre at its best and KET has announced it will televise the fracas live across the state.
In our view, the Senate race will be a hard fought, even nasty contest pitting the bare knuckle, big money tactics of McConnell against the organizational skills and personal charm of Grimes, a relative newcomer to statewide politics holding office for the first time.
Democrats see the race as a rare opportunity to unseat McConnell, whose opinion poll numbers are down in Kentucky.
But students of political history know that the wily McConnell has a history of surviving tough races.