Updated 4 months ago
FRANKFORT (AP) - Almost a month after announcing she would run for the U.S. Senate, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will kick off her campaign Tuesday in her hometown of Lexington with the state's top Democratic leaders at her side.
The 34-year-old Democrat, who is seeking to unseat Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, planned an elaborate rollout involving Gov. Steve Beshear and several of his Democratic predecessors along with 200 supporters from across the state.
"This kickoff will show Kentuckians are united around Alison Lundergan Grimes," said political adviser Jonathan Hurst. "She's somebody who is not only a strong leader for our party, but she's a leader for all of Kentucky."
Grimes, a lawyer who is seeking to retake the Senate seat for the Democrats after nearly 30 years of GOP control, has declared her opposition to Obama administration policies that she says hurt the state's coal industry. And she said she wants to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, help businesses grow and create jobs, and stop out-of-control government spending.
In announcing her candidacy on July 1, Grimes declared that McConnell has become part of the problem and that he has lost touch with Kentucky.
McConnell, 71, has already raised more than $15 million for his re-election bid. Known for running bare-knuckled campaigns, McConnell has tried to define Grimes as President Barack Obama's candidate while some of his Republican allies have painted her as "a rubber stamp" for the Democratic president.
Linking Democratic candidates to Obama has been a longstanding strategy by the GOP in Kentucky, where the president is an unpopular political figure.
McConnell's defenders said Tuesday that Kentuckians should be thankful that McConnell has stood against Obama's agenda, including the federal health care reforms and policies that hurt Kentucky's coal industry.
"Grimes cannot come up with a single reason for her own candidacy other than, 'Mitch McConnell opposes President Obama,' and that is why she is going to lose," said Brook Hougesen, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Defeating McConnell would be the Democrats' biggest prize of the 2014 election. He has been an outspoken critic of Obama and would move up to Senate majority leader should Republicans recapture the Senate in 2014. His seat is one of 14 that Republicans are defending next year, while Democrats try to hold onto 21.
McConnell, who also is being challenged in the GOP primary by Louisville investment adviser Matt Bevin, has never lost an election. In his last one, he spent more than $20 million to beat Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford, a wealthy Louisville businessman, by 6 percentage points.
Grimes has pulled together Democratic heavyweights to help her raise campaign funds. She has also received endorsements from several top Democrats, angering at least one of her three primary opponents, Owensboro contractor Ed Marksberry. Marksberry filed a lawsuit Monday against the Democratic party charging that leaders are playing favorites in the race.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)