Alison Lundergan Grimes: Fact or fantasy?

posted at 2:31 pm on April 5, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

In the midst of a season which finds Republicans knuckling down and focusing on anywhere from six to ten Senate seats which they may be able to flip this fall, it’s worth remembering that the Democrats are not asleep at the wheel. They have their eyes on holding on to their slim Senate majority by their fingernails with one race in particular whetting their appetites… and it’s none other than the Senate Majority Minority Leader’s. But is Mitch McConnell actually in danger? There’s reason for him to be concerned, no doubt, but Matt Lewis has been doing some digging and finds that Democrat hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes may not be quite as fearsome as the media portrays her.

On paper, Alison Lundergan Grimes was the perfect recruit to run against Sen. Mitch McConnell. McConnell’s negatives are high, and Grimes is seen as an attractive (just me, or does she resemble Molly Parker?) young Secretary of State – with potential cultural crossover appeal in the “Bluegrass State.” And it also doesn’t hurt that she happens to be the daughter of former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman (and Bill Clinton pal) Jerry Lundergan, either.

And indeed, the race is close. But that only belies the fact that Grimes has, thus far, proven to be a mediocre candidate, running a mediocre campaign. And this suggests that McConnell might just be able to survive.

Matt checks in on reporter Sam Youngman, who has some lengthy experience both inside the beltway and back home in the Bluegrass State. With an insider’s view, he seems to feel that Grimes’ organization leaves a lot to be desired.

“For a long time before I moved home,” Youngman said, “I was reading in a number of publications about what a formidable campaign it was. And from what I’ve seen so far…from what I’ve seen on the ground, at least, that doesn’t track. It’s a campaign that has struggled consistently to find its footing.”

“My own personal feeling is that they have missed a series of opportunities to define her in the minds of Kentucky voters,” he continued, “because, despite winning statewide office in 2011, she’s still not that well known — which, as you well know, is a danger zone for a first-time candidate.”

This isn’t some revelation of a newly discovered scandal or some other definitive, disqualifying historical note. Rather, it’s a sense among observers that Grimes has surrounded herself with some amateurs – or at least relatively green politicos – who don’t seem to be on top of what’s needed to bring a high profile race like this one over the finish line. And as much as we’d like to think that elections are all about the pure qualities of the candidates and the better angels of the voters, campaign skills matter. The beltway is littered with the virtual bodies of many otherwise fine candidates who may have served their constituents well, but simply weren’t prepared for the trench warfare of modern politics on the trail.

McConnell is in a tough fight, no matter how unskilled his opponents may prove to be, but it’s not something he hasn’t seen before. Mitch won his last three races in 96, 2002 and 2008 in pretty much of a cakewalk, but a look deeper into history shows that he didn’t come from a position of having a glass jaw. In his first election to the Senate in 1984, McConnell had to beat a two term incumbent Democrat, and they had to stay up late on election day to find that he had won by only 5,200 votes out of more than 1.8 million. His first fight to defend the seat in 1990 against a former mayor of Louisville wasn’t much easier, resulting in a victory margin of 4.5%, still inside the margins of some election day polls.

He may need to draw on that experience to win this one if Grimes plays her cards well. The race is currently locked up, with a couple of polls even showing Grimes holding on to a fractional lead. Also, McConnel has become very unpopular with a lot of conservatives over the last year or two (with evidence of that showing up in the Hot Air comments section on a regular basis), so turning out the base may not be a given. But there’s a long way to go still, and plenty of time for mistakes to be made by Grimes. Over the summer we may find out whether Youngman’s analysis proves prescient and the demands of the campaign lead to the challenger’s team dropping the ball.

UPDATE: (Jazz) Ooops. McConnell isn’t the Majority Leader … yet. Corrected above.

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Live from Kentucky. Grimes is only a formidable candidate in the dreams of the states media and in particular the two largest papers, the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald. Both of which hate McConnell more than they actually like Grimes. The Dems can’t get a decent candidate to run against McConnell because they all understand the landscape particularly this year. Grimes only claim to fame is being the Secretary of State. Seriously, there are county clerks in the state that have more responsibility and more political experience than she does. Remember, there was serious talk of running Ashley Judd! And her major claim to fame is that she shows up at all the University of Kentucky basketball games. There are some democrats who might give Mitch a run, the state party just can’t get any of them to run. Mitch has wisely embraced Rand Paul and the two are very popular outside of the metropolitan areas (and we don’t have much of that). Allison, who’s insistence on using her sing songy name (Allison Lundergan Grimes) has become a joke, will carry Jefferson and Fayette counties and Mitch will overwhelmingly carry the rest of the state unless he murders his wife between now and election day.

pgrossjr on April 5, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Johnnyreb on April 5, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Wait. Bevins can endorse TARP and be a villain but McConnell can actually vote for it and be a hero? Liberal logic.

Cindy Munford on April 5, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Matt is not losing this race because he doesn’t have enough money. He’s losing because he’s a moron.

U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin spent the week defending his decision last weekend to attend an event in Corbin, Ky., that most attendees knew was a rally to legalize cockfighting in Kentucky.

Bevin has said he didn’t know it was a rally supporting cockfighting and thought it was a “state’s rights” rally.

cat_owner on April 5, 2014 at 8:31 PM

We get enough senators we can convict and remove the thief bumbles.

losarkos on April 5, 2014 at 8:32 PM

Your concern is noted, trulib, lol. Making out my check to Grimes right after this post. Thanks for convincing me to do something I never thought I would…contribute to a democrat. Well done.

xblade on April 5, 2014 at 3:53 PM

You can call JFKY what you like but he’s not the one bankrolling the Democrats, you are.

thebrokenrattle on April 5, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Boom! Well said. I was hoping he/she would understand the irony in her statement. JFKY says that he’ll support whoever the Republican nominee is. xblade says that if McConnell wins the primary, she’ll support the Democrat, and yet somehow JFKY is the “trulib”? Too funny.

GOPRanknFile on April 5, 2014 at 9:13 PM

JFKY on April 5, 2014 at 2:47 PM


Good buddy of yours, squishy?

Just like Ford, Bush I, Dole, McCain, Romney, you are a loser. There are not two parties, there is only the Washington self annointed elite and conservatives fighting to break their death hold on the country. Your butt boy is for obamacare, for amnesty, for out of control debt. When the situation has been easy to act conservative he has been opportunistic. The rest of the time he has sold out the country at every chance in order to secure his power and enrich himself. The people on his team are named pelosi, reid, schumer. Also boehner, christie, cornyn. He loves him some democrats but he’d really like to punch the middle aged women of the Tea Party in the mouth. Wonderful guy.

peacenprosperity on April 5, 2014 at 11:14 PM

The Rs and Ds are very similar when it comes to selling out America with free trade and immigration, but there are many other issues where I come down with the Rs, and so I support McConnell. He voted for tax cuts, tort reform for the gun manufacturers, for the 2nd Amendment, voted against the ACA, votes for conservative judges, is against affirmative action, supports a balanced budget amendment, etc. I can’t imagine any real conservative supporting his Democrat opponent. That’s a vote for every Democrat policy that’s destroying the country.

I’m really thinking some of these people are 5th Column and using bluster to hide it Their reasoning doesn’t make any sense.

cimbri on April 6, 2014 at 1:23 AM

Wow love the fake conservatives selling us Grimes over Mc Connell

First get the senate for R at all cost then worry about getting rid of rhinos.

Quit the bs here, you fake conservatives. Getting rid of Harry frack head Reid running the senate is number 1 priority over anything else. Wake up.

losarkos on April 5, 2014 at 4:45 PM

He’s a fake conservative alright, he’e here to help elect democrats by trying to convince the stupid in our party to either stay at home or actually vote for democrats. The term is “moby”. This was him before the last election:

There were at least three other times we had smaller discussions. Maybe you should get a notepad and write this down. If the Republican nominee is Romney, then astonerii and his extended family will be voting for Obama.
astonerii on February 6, 2012 at 11:54 AM

The point of voting Obama is to try to prevent Romney from ruining the brand name.
astonerii on February 2, 2012 at 7:38 PM

I vote Obama if the only other choice on the ballot is Romney.
astonerii on October 9, 2011 at 8:46 PM

Romney is absolutely unacceptable to me as a Republican president and why I will work against his election if he is the nominee.
astonerii on March 24, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Me, I will convince my 28 member extended family to vote Obama[…]
You can b!tch and moan all you want about how unfair it is….
astonerii on January 27, 2012 at 6:09 PM

I will vote. It will not be for Willard Mitt Romney. If you cannot live with another 4 years of Obama, pity to you for being such a pathetically weak person.
astonerii on March 21, 2012 at 11:22 PM

I will actively vote against Romney, I will vote for the conservative in the Senate and House. […] I will not go third party, I will go for the throat and vote direct for Obama. Parties do not learn lessons, but the electorate does!
[…] Vote for Obama, vote for the conservative for congress. Got it.
astonerii on February 1, 2012 at 11:26 AM

I would vote Obama just to shut people like you up.
astonerii on November 29, 2011 at 8:20 PM

I will vote Obama if there is not a solid true conservative with enough backbone to reverse the direction of the nation.
astonerii on April 18, 2011 at 12:29 PM

I vote Obama if Romney is on the ticket. I will not go so far as to send a donation or put a sticker on my bumper, I never put stickers on my bumper, but I will vote.
astonerii on July 17, 2011 at 5:42 PM

I can vote for Obama. This gives the most value. I am young enough to fight in a civil war [lol] today and a decade or so more, thus if I vote Obama, and he can bring the collapse of the American dollar and our economy faster than the R, my vote for him gives me value.
According to my chart, voting Obama if the primary voters decide to pick a progressive is my next best option.
astonerii on June 17, 2011 at 8:47 PM

Just a few of the many dozens of comments that this “conservative” posted on this site endorsing Barack Obama. He’s never seen a GOP election that he didn’t want to lose.

V7_Sport on April 6, 2014 at 2:04 PM

McConnell hating on the Tea Party could come back to bite him. If it weren’t for Obama, he’d be going down.

WannabeAnglican on April 6, 2014 at 6:27 PM

there was serious talk of running Ashley Judd! And her major claim to fame is that she shows up at all the University of Kentucky basketball games.

pgrossjr on April 5, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Wrong! Judd’s claim to fame was that she has no problem with full frontal nudity on screen. She’s just another Hollywood whore.

earlgrey on April 7, 2014 at 12:39 PM