Kentucky Senate Race: Grimes V. McConnell Still Looks Like A Dead Heat. Tuesday, Oct 21 2014 

The new Bluegrass Poll seems to prove Team Switch’s contention that the last Bluegrass Poll wasn’t an “outlier,” pollster-speak for a survey that’s the exception, not the rule.

Released Monday, the survey had Sen. Mitch McConnell up 43-42 over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. The previous Bluegrass Poll put Grimes out front, 46-44. Both surveys were well within the margin of error.

The new poll “confirms yet again that the 15-month campaign plan from which we have never wavered has Alison poised for a narrow but decisive victory on November 4th,” said a Monday statement from Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst.

He added, “Since the last Bluegrass poll, Mitch McConnell and his allies have outspent our side by nearly $3 million, lying about Alison and her record, and they have nothing but a statistical dead heat (and the further cementing of McConnell’s mid-40’s ceiling) to show for it.
 
“McConnell and his allies have spent a whopping $50 million trashing Grimes and yet today we stand deadlocked just 15 days out.”

The survey of 655 likely voters also had Libertarian David Patterson with five percent.

“The poll shows that McConnell is in the fight of his political life despite being the most powerful Republican in the Senate and likely to take over as the Senate majority leader if he wins re-election and the GOP can win control of the Senate,” wrote Joseph Gerth in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Bluegrass State’s largest newspaper.

Team Switch dismissed the previous Bluegrass Poll an “outlier.” So did some Washington pundits and political science professors in Kentucky and elsewhere.

Hurst countered that the current poll “confirms what we learned in the previous Bluegrass poll—that there has been a fundamental shift in the race since late August when McConnell led by 4 points, represented by a substantial swing to Grimes that has her tied or enjoying a slight lead.
 
“Even the right-wing Gravis poll last week showed Alison gaining 7 points since their September 16th survey, with huge pickups amongst the key independent demographic.”

Hurst charged that Team Mitch “is still pushing bad data in hopes of feeding a media narrative that the race is slipping away. That may be working with some DC outlets, but once again, the disconnect between Beltway punditry and the reality on the ground is vast.
 
“McConnell’s two latest data points do nothing but prove that this race is tied for the incumbent, at best. To wit: the Fox News poll touted by Republicans in early October had McConnell up four points, but as FiveThirtyEight noted of that poll, controlling for the GOP-leaning house effect of Fox polling, the actual result would be McConnell +0.4% — a pure coin flip.”

Hurst also took exception to the numbers in the recently-released Republican-leaning Rasmussen poll, which put McConnell on top 52 to 44.
 
The liberal Daily Kos website derides Rasmussen as “the House of Ras.” Hurst claimed the Rasmussen survey “was riddled with so many errors and flawed assumptions it’s barely worth rebutting.”

Hurst’s statement also said that “McConnell’s numbers remain dangerously low for an incumbent” though “McConnell partisans will point to a year’s worth of public polling showing the majority having McConnell in the lead.” Those numbers don’t matter, he added, “given that the fundamental shift shows Alison pulling into the lead or tied and McConnell stuck in neutral with momentum on our side.”

In addition, Hurst said Team Switch “remains in an extremely strong financial position…The campaign recently released yet another record-breaking 3rd quarter fundraising haul, announcing nearly $4.4 million cash-on-hand for the sprint down the stretch. That amount is more than any Democrat holds in any competitive 2014 U.S. Senate race that remains in play.”

She Drives A Compact But Votes Like It’s A Cadillac Sunday, Oct 19 2014 

"Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their backs on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will have to sit on their blisters." -- Abraham Lincoln.

About this time four years ago, I was driving past a western Kentucky Walmart and spotted a woman in a “Rand Paul for Senate” tee shirt loading groceries into an old compact car.

Based on her wheels, I guessed the shopper lives far from Easy Street.

I saw the same car pulling out of the Walmart the other day. A fresh “Team Mitch” sticker was on the back bumper.
 
I don’t know if the driver was the Rand Paul fan I saw in 2010. But a woman was behind the wheel.
 
McConnell is a millionaire. He is bankrolled by millionaires and billionaires who expect him to do their bidding.

The senate majority leader wannabe always comes through for the plutocrats. That’s ditto for Paul, the junior senator from my native Kentucky.

Paul isn’t running this time. McConnell is, so right now I’d ask my fellow working class Kentuckians to focus on his record.
 
The AFL-CIO says McConnell voted the union position on legislation just 17 percent of the time in 2013 and only 12 percent of the time since he came to the senate in 1985.
Let’s look at the basis for McConnell’s near rock bottom numbers. McConnell:
  •    Supports a national right to work law.
  •    Opposes the Employee Free Choice Act.
  •    Supports repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act.
  •    Opposes collective bargaining rights for public employees. He said “public sector unions are a 50-year mistake.”

McConnell wants to abolish or render ineffective the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration. He wants to do the same with laws designed to safeguard worker life and limb on the job.

McConnell would like to deep six the National Labor Relations Board or at least pack it with members who share his anti-unions views. His ideal secretary of labor is his wife, ex-Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. She shares her spouse’s deep disdain for all things union.
 
Anyway, when McConnell praises “free enterprise,” he means free of unions.
 
McConnell is an old-time Social Darwinist who thinks employers ought to have the right to run their businesses pretty much as they see fit, and if workers don’t like it they can quit and get a job somewhere else.

McConnell is a disciple of the “trickle-down” theory of economics. That is, if politicians make the rich richer with big tax breaks and regulation relief, everybody will be better off.

   “Trickle-down” economics gave us the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Reagan recession of the 1980s and the two Bush recessions of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

On the other hand, union jobs go hand in hand with prosperity. Unions played a big part in creating the middle class in America.

Sadly, a lot of good union jobs have been going overseas for years. McConnell is fine with outsourcing.

Earlier this year, he led senate Republican opposition to a measure to stop companies from deducting from their tax bill expenses connected with moving their operations to a foreign country. The measure also would have provided tax credits to companies that bring operations back to the U.S.

Plutocrats like outsourcers vote their class interests. A lot of working class people don’t, and that’s why politicians like McConnell and Paul are in office.

Oh, they love for working stiffs to blame themselves for having to scrape by from paycheck to paycheck or for ending up unemployed.
 
Politicians like McConnell and Paul claim that the unfettered free enterprise system gives everybody who works hard a chance to go from “rags to riches.” So they want working people to believe it’s their own fault they aren’t rich.
 
In his TV debate with Alison Lundergan Grimes, his Democratic opponent, McConnell admitted he inherited his millions from his mother-in-law.
 
Paul was born on Easy Street. His daddy is Rand Paul, the millionaire, right wing ex-Texas congressman.
 
McConnell and Paul are hardly alone. A lot of today’s millionaires inherited their fortunes or were born into well-heeled families. That’s always been the case.

“While some multimillionaires started in poverty, most did not,” historian Howard Zinn wrote of the late 19th century Robber Barons. “A study of the origins of 303 textile, railroad and steel executives of the 1870s showed that 90 percent came from middle- or upper-class families.”

Zinn added, “The Horatio Alger stories of 'rags to riches' were true for a few men, but mostly a myth, and a useful myth for control.”

The myth is still being pushed by right-wing politicians, the right-wing media echo chamber, and religious right preachers.

In any event, Republicans like McConnell and Paul do all they can to encourage the idea that we’re all in the same boat even if mine is a leaky little dory and theirs is a big fancy yacht.
 
McConnell, Paul and politicians like them want working people to think that because they might own (or are making payments on) a home – however modest – or a car – even a heap – their interests are the same as millionaires and billionaires who live in mansions and own fleets of luxury cars.

Of course, Mitch and Rand don’t generally invite folks like the Walmart patron over for dinner at the mansion or for a round of golf at the country club. Mitch and Rand want their votes, not their company.
 
Naturally, when other candidates stick up for unions, government programs that help people who need help and talk about making rich people pay their fair share of taxes, the plutocrats and their bought-and-paid for politicians holler, “class warfare!” and “socialism!”

And they start blabbing how they love God, guns and Old Glory but not abortion and same sex marriage.
 
(A buddy of mine remembers seeing a TV news show where President George H.W. Bush leveled the “class warfare” charge against the Democrats while standing on the deck of the Bush family yacht anchored offshore from the Bush family mansion at Kennebunkport, Me.)

Edwin Lyngar admits he was once like the Walmart shopper. He had a hard time making ends meet and still voted for millionaire politicians who put the screws to him. “I’m angry at my younger self, not for being poor, but for supporting politicians who would have kept me poor if they were able,” he wrote in Salon.
 
It took him a while, but Lyngar figured out that right wing politicians had been conning him about the government. “….I earned a bachelor’s degree for free courtesy of a federal program, and after my military service I used the GI Bill to get two graduate degrees, all while making ends meet with the earned income tax credit.”

He added, “The GI Bill not only helped me, it also created much of the American middle class after World War II. Conservatives often crow about ‘supporting the military,’ but imagine how much better America would be if the government used just 10 percent of the military budget to pay for universal higher education, rather than saddling 20-year-olds with mortgage-like debt.”

Speaking from experience, Lyngar said that many working people who vote Republican “know that they are one medical emergency or broken down car away from ruin, and they blame the government. They vote against their own interests, often hurting themselves in concrete ways, in a vain attempt to deal with their own, misguided shame about being poor. They believe ‘freedom’ is the answer, even though they live a form of wage indenture in a rigged system.

“Government often fails because the moneyed interests don’t want it to succeed. They hate government and most especially activist government (aka government that does something useful). Their hatred for government is really disdain for Americans, except as consumers or underpaid labor.

“Sadly, it took me years — decades — to see the illogic of supporting people who disdain me. But I’m a super-slow learner. I wish I could take the poorest, struggling conservatives and shake them. I would scream that their circumstances or failures or joblessness are not all their fault.

“They should wise up and vote themselves a break. Rich people vote their self-interest in every single election. Why don’t poor people?”

Despite Grimes’ anti-amnesty ad, Kentucky-wide social justice group/PAC, sticks with her Friday, Oct 17 2014 

From Facebook
In spite of senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes' repulsive anti-amnesty ad airing last week, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) decided to continue supporting her (through their New Power PAC), against incumbent Mitch McConnell, according to an email sent out to members this morning. KFTC sent a similar letter to their allies, which would include organizations focused on immigrant rights, explaining their decision.

But KFTC also sent a letter to Grimes, "expressing in the clearest terms our disappointment in her and her campaign. All this may also lead to more public expression of our disappointment."

KFTC may be Kentucky's largest grassroots social justice group, and it isn't just an environmental group. Other issues KFTC organizes around include economic justice, new safe energy, an honest democracy. That includes working in solidarity with Kentucky's immigrant community in the fight for immigrant rights.

Disclosure: I'm  a proud KFTC member, but even I wasn't, I believe the KFTC Executive Committee got this one right, and their comprehensive analysis is helpful to putting Grimes ad in perspective.

Here's their complete heart-wrestling email below:

We wanted you, as a KFTC member, to see this message from our Executive Committee as soon as possible due to the timeliness of this issue in the media.  We're also mailing the letter to all our members so you'll be receiving a hard copy early next week.  We wanted make our best effort to ensure that all KFTC members have a chance to read this important message.

                                                                                                            October 17, 2014
Dear Fellow KFTC Members,
It is a privilege to work with and for you as your new KFTC officers. We are all Kentuckians, and we are reminded every day that – as our favorite KFTC hoodie states – “we are our best hope for change.” The undeniable truth of that message has never been more clear than it is this year.
We believe that we – all of us, together – have the opportunity to build New Power in our Commonwealth, with a just economy powered by clean and safe energy, creating more and better jobs, a safe environment, and a bright future for our communities and our children, all dependent on and made possible by a healthy democracy.
This year in particular, KFTC has been focused on building the healthy democracy we deserve and expect, where everyone has the opportunity and incentive to participate, where each voice is heard and respected, where public decisions are made to advance the interest of all of us, not the privilege of a few, where we act from our shared values to achieve our common purpose.
As KFTC, we understand that creating the democracy we imagine relies on participating in the democracy we have, and our experience tells us that is no easy task. We are working hard to secure the right to vote for the formerly incarcerated; we help thousands register to vote so they can participate; we gather information about the positions of political candidates and share it with hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians. We shine a light on candidates who share our values and support the issues we care about, and sometimes on those who do not. And finally, we encourage everyone to make their own, best choice, get to the polls on election day, and exercise their right and their voice. Building the Commonwealth we deserve requires many things, including political leaders with vision, integrity, and a commitment to shared progress.
We entered 2014 knowing that it would be a big year, a decisive year. As you know, Kentucky is host to one of the most watched political contests in the country this year, the campaign between Senator Mitch McConnell and his challenger, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. The democracy we have has placed a big opportunity – and challenge – on our doorstep.
The KFTC Steering Committee has regularly discussed and debated this election ever since the 2012 elections, primarily because we believe that Kentucky desperately needs a new U.S. Senator. Senator McConnell has enjoyed a long and storied career in Washington DC, and there is no doubt that he is one of the most powerful politicians in the country. However, he has consistently used his power to block progress. He has promoted and protected the practice of mountaintop removal and other destructive mining while blocking efforts to promote mine safety; he has weakened our tax system, making it less fair and insufficient to meet our most basic needs; he has been the nation’s primary proponent of flooding our political system with corporate money; he has perfected the art of division and gridlock in order to protect the interests of his sponsors, to the detriment of the rest of us. He has not given us – in fact he has worked hard to prevent – the democracy we need or the representation that all Kentuckians deserve.
This past week, we are disappointed to say, we didn’t get the representation we deserve from his challenger either. Some of you may have seen what is fast becoming an infamous political ad about immigration run by the Grimes campaign in which she uses demeaning and de-humanizing language to describe undocumented immigrants and pledges to oppose efforts to ever include them in our democracy. For us, it was not just another political ad. It was a clear statement that exemplified the worst elements of our political culture: exploiting fear, inspiring prejudice, assigning blame to some of the most vulnerable among us instead of seeking solutions that reflect our values and our shared humanity. For many Kentuckians, and many KFTC members, it was a last straw, and forced some of us to consider stepping back from the table altogether.
Speaking for ourselves, we were outraged, we were disappointed, and we were saddened by this episode. The lack of integrity that contaminates our elections is poisonous to our democracy. We also recognize that an election is a choice. Voting one’s conscience by not voting is one legitimate and principled choice. We also understand that one of these two politicians will be the U.S. Senator from Kentucky. The consequences of this election are so great we believe it is important to encourage Kentuckians to participate.
We believe that if we want an increase in the minimum wage, Secretary Grimes is the choice that can help make that happen. If we want to see some relief for students and new graduates facing a mountain of student debt and a weak job market, Secretary Grimes is the candidate to support. If we want to see improved mine safety protection, pension protection for miners, and investment in new job creation in the coalfields, it’s the same choice. If we care about a healthier democracy, Secretary Grimes has been a champion of voting rights. On issue after issue that we care about, when it comes down to a choice, the difference between the two candidates is not only clear, it is stark.
Four years ago, KFTC formed the New Power PAC in order to publicize our issues and express our support for candidates who align with our values and views. At our September Steering Committee meeting, we debated the considerations and consequences in the Senate race, including discussion of Grimes’ lack of vision on coal issues. The Steering Committee voted to “spotlight” candidate Grimes, in essence endorsing her, based upon the many issues where her position aligns with ours. Her immigration ad rocked our resolve this week, but we believe there is so much at stake in this race that we are choosing to go forward with our support and our voter empowerment campaign.
Here’s what we are doing. We’re sending this letter to all KFTC members, encouraging us all to stay engaged. And we will be sending a similar letter to our allies in the state, reminding them of what is at stake and encouraging them not to step away. We are sending a letter directly to Alison Lundergan Grimes expressing in the clearest terms our disappointment in her and her campaign. All this may also lead to more public expression of our disappointment.
And then we are getting back to work. We’ve mailed our voter guide to more than 52,000 Kentucky households and posted it online at www.kentuckyelection.org. We’ve hired and trained more than 40 voter empowerment organizers and deployed them in six regions of the state. Next week, we all kick into get-out-the-vote mode. We’ll be sending out more than 75,000 postcards encouraging voters to get to the polls and support candidates that support our issues including Elisabeth Jensen, John Yarmuth, Ron Leach – and Alison Lundergan Grimes. Our goal is to get 50,000 voters – including unlikely voters from the communities where we organize – to the polls on election day. We need your help going door-to-door, on the phones, and speaking with your friends and family to reach that goal. In an election this close, with this much at stake, those voters could be the difference makers.
Thank you for your commitment to KFTC, to a brighter future, and to a healthy democracy. We continue to believe we can have the democracy we imagine, but we are reminded daily that it will take a lot of work to get there. Your commitment to building KFTC translates into more power and growing influence over the political debate and the electoral outcome, every election cycle. We hope you’ll join us for the next two weeks in taking the next step.
With respect,

Dana Beasley Brown
Chairperson

Carl Shoupe
Vice Chairperson

Elizabeth Sanders
Secretary-Treasurer

Tanya Torp
At-large Representative

Sue Tallichet
Immediate Past Chair
Paid for by New Power PAC, www.newpowerky.org.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Update 6: 58 PM:
KFTC has made the email/letter to members public via social media:

In Other News… Clinton visits, Grimes/McConnell debate, Paul likes his donuts, new ‘Hunger Games’ trailer Friday, Oct 17 2014 

Alison Lundergan Grimes and Hillary Clinton (photo from Grimes campaign)The Big Guns: Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, came through Louisville on Wednesday to support Democratic Challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, says USA Today, CBS News, Politico, The Hill and MSNBC. Bloomberg describes it as a rescue mission. The Wall … Continue reading

40 Of The 1000 Briggs and Stratton Workers Attend Mitch McConnell Event At Factory Wednesday, Oct 15 2014 

Mitch McConnell visits Briggs and Stratton factory in Murray, Kentucky and according to WPSD only 40 of the 1000 employees attended.

Also, according to WPSD, WPSD or the other television station and three newspaper crews were not allowed access to the event.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee And Alison Lundergan Grimes. Wednesday, Oct 15 2014 

The news that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee evidently isn’t going to buy any more TV ads for Alison Lundergan Grimes has sent the celebrity pundits scurrying to their word processors to compose obituaries for Team Switch.

“Democrats are pulling out of the Kentucky Senate race. Here’s why that’s important,” trumpeted a headline on “The Fix,” Chris Cillizza’s Washington Post column (at least it was the headline on the Internet.

“The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has stopped its TV advertising for the final three weeks in the Kentucky Senate race,” Cillizza wrote. “That decision effectively leaves Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes on her own and is rightly read as a sign that national Democrats believe the race is effectively over.”
 
Grimes, the Democrat who is after Sen. Mitch McConnell’s job, was up 46-44 over the senate majority leader wannabe in the last Bluegrass Poll. So Cillizza’s musing made me think of what Mark Twain supposedly said about reports of his death being more than a tad exaggerated.

Anyway, after reading Cillizza’s musing, this old reporter sought comment from Charly Norton, Grimes’s press secretary, I emailed her. “We remain confident and poised to win,” she emailed right back.

Campaign flaks get paid to say things like that.

Go ahead and call it home cooking if you wish, but here's how a Democratic party pro sizes it up: -- a DSCC “pullout” is not quite right. The DSCC isn’t -- for now anyway – buying ads beyond what the group already paid for. But the DSCC’s effort in the state is more than buying TV ads.

Check out Guy Cecil’s $300,000 (Exec. Dir. of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) Tweet.

The election will boil down to turnout. Team Switch is confident they have built a mega-horsepower statewide grassroots, get-out-the-vote organization that’s hitting on all eight cylinders.

Team Switch has $4.4 million in cash on hand and posted record-breaking fundraising totals on Tuesday: a cool $4.9 million.

Last – maybe first – is that Bluegrass Poll. Team Switch is especially happy with Grimes’s numbers among independents.

True confession time: I’m rooting for Team Switch. Nonetheless, I generally don’t bet on politics or sporting events and I leave the prognosticating to media stars like Cillizza.

But before golden October declines into somber November and election day, I would wager on a couple of things:

  •    Team Mitch doesn’t think their guy has the election in the jug.
  •    Whichever team wins, the vote will be uncomfortable close.
 
Norton’s rejoinder to the big league pundits reminds me of the immortal Bluto Blutarsky who famously declared: “Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is!’” (If you don’t know Bluto, Google him, or let me google that for you.)

Anyway, right now Team Switch is still on the field and clinging to a two point lead in one of the most highly regarded polls in Kentucky. She was four points down in the previous Bluegrass poll.

Admittedly, I don’t think Grimes helped herself by not revealing who she voted for in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. At her TV debate with McConnell, she still wouldn’t say. I wish she had all along.

Yet the fact that she he hasn’t – and apparently won’t -- doesn’t seem to be hurting her with the base, or at least among union families like mine, who are a big chunk of her base.
 
This lifelong Kentuckian who doesn’t think “liberal” is a dirty word and who voted for Obama both times he ran isn’t holding Grimes’s non-disclosure against her. None of my union buddies who voted for Obama are either.

Also, I didn’t detect any flagging ardor on Grimes’ part in her war of words with the captain of Team Mitch. It could be argued convincingly that she won on points.
 
Too, big-name Democrats are still heading to Kentucky to stump for her. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio came the other day.

Both Clintons have been here, Hillary is supposed to be back tonight. I hear Bill is due back next week.

No matter what the punditocracy is pontificating, to the captain and the rest of Team Switch I say, “Illegitimi non carborundum, y’all.” You can Google that one, too.

Rimracked? Tuesday, Oct 14 2014 


It’s Easy Work Talking About Self-Reliance While Living It Up On An Inherited Fortune. Tuesday, Oct 14 2014 

In Monday night's KET debate, Sen. Mitch McConnell bristled at Alison Lundergan Grimes’s intimation that he became a millionaire by cashing in on his job.

No way, he shot back at the Democrat who wants his job. The senator protested that Grimes knows he and his spouse got rich as "a result of an inheritance that my wife got when her mother passed away."

Joe Raese was even more candid four years ago: “I made my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it. I think that’s a great thing to do.”

Joe who? He’s the Republican another Joe, a Democrat named Manchin, beat in the 2010 West Virginia senate race. Raese’s remarks apparently didn’t play in Parkersburg, Philippi and elsewhere in the Mountain State.

I wouldn’t bet the farm that McConnell’s true confession will play in Paducah, Pikeville or anyplace else in the Bluegrass State.

McConnell says success awaits anybody who has initiative and works hard. George Babbitt called it “pep.”

In McConnell’s Babbitt world, unions and government help for people who need help – help like a boost in the minimum wage – kill jobs and destroy self-reliance.

“Americans take pride in solving problems for themselves,” McConnell once said. “And if we fail, we get back up and try again. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.”

So arise and get peppy. But it's easier work just talking about self-reliance while living it up on an inherited fortune.

Mitch McConnell Slips In Back Door Of KET Debate To Avoid Press And Kentucky Voters Out Front Video Monday, Oct 13 2014 


Unions Rally In Paducah For Legislative Candidates, Back Grimes In Vote Controversy. Monday, Oct 13 2014 

Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan doesn’t care if Alison Lundergan Grimes, the labor-endorsed Democrat who wants Sen. Mitch McConnell’s job, voted for President Barack Obama or not.

“This election is about Grimes versus McConnell,” Londrigan said. “He is the arch enemy of workers, and we need to be focused on that.”

Londrigan found agreement aplenty in the mostly union crowd at Saturday’s “Stand Up and Fight Back” labor rally in Paducah.

Veteran city union leader Larry Sanderson got up the rally to boost support for five local labor-endorsed Democrats for the state legislature. He said the crowd size “was at least 2,500.” The gathering was one of the largest union rallies in western Kentucky in a long time, said Sanderson, a retired UA international representative.

The weather was cool, but Grimes showed up to a warm welcome. The crowd’s faith in labor’s senate candidate seemed unshaken by the controversy she sparked by declining to tell The Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board whom she voted for in 2008 when Obama was elected president and in 2012 when he won a second term.

Charles Dempsey, a United Auto Workers retiree from Benton, didn’t mince words. “She’s a Democrat. Who the hell did they think she voted for?”
Sanderson, the emcee, said everybody was glad to see Grimes. “We are working to help elect her. But that Democratic house is the only thing standing between us and a right to work law.”
 
The Republicans promise to pass such a law should they win control of the house on Nov. 4, election day. The senate has a right to work GOP majority.

Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, would almost certainly veto a right to work bill. But in Kentucky, a simple majority of both houses can override a governor’s veto.
 
“We are not going to let them flip the house,” said Sanderson, firing up the crowd. “They are just going to energize us to stand up and fight back.”

The rally attracted several union members and supporters from as far away as Louisville. Several rode charter busses the 200-plus miles between the Falls City and Paducah, about as far west as Kentucky goes.

Londrigan arrived by car. The state federation head also took time for some interstate solidarity.
 
He crossed the Ohio River to nearby Metropolis, Ill., and spoke at a rally for Steelworkers Local 7-669. The 150-member union is locked out at the Honeywell uranium processing plant.

The Paducah rally was held at the covered grandstand on the city’s Carson Park fairgrounds. That was fortunate given the cloudy skies and 50-50 chance for rain.
 
The elements failed to dampen the crowd or its ardor.
 
Sanderson, wearing his old white hard hat, relinquished the microphone to Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, and four other top Bluegrass State Democrats – state House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Attorney Gen. Jack Conway, Auditor Adam Edelen and Julian Carroll, a state senator and former governor. Though Carroll lives in Frankfort, Paducah is his hometown.
 
“Who better to tell the crowd what will happen to us if the Republicans win the house than the speaker?” Sanderson asked.
 
Stumbo led off after Sanderson lauded him “as the reason that we don’t have that right to freeload bill in Kentucky. He is our friend.”

Sanderson said Conway, Edelen, Carroll and Grimes are labor’s friends, too. All were elected with union support. All echoed Stumbo’s challenge to help keep the house Democratic. Additionally, they seconded Sanderson’s praise for the quintet of legislative candidates: Reps. Gerald Watkins of Paducah and Will Coursey of Symsonia, house hopefuls Jarrod Jackson of Princeton and Jesse Wright of Mayfield, and Jeff Parker of Paducah, who is running for the state senate.

Grimes didn’t address the vote controversy in her remarks. She told the crowd that McConnell “thinks that Barack Obama’s name is on the ballot” and reminded her listeners that “it’s not. Mine is.”

Later, in a statement for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO website, Grimes said, "As the state's chief election official, protecting the sanctity of the ballot box was what I was elected to do by the people of Kentucky. I work hard with people who put their lives on the line for that ballot box to protect their privacy.”

She said how she voted in the presidential election is not “relevant to this election. Instead of asking who I voted for, we should be talking about what I will be voting for in Washington."

Londrigan voted for the president both times Obama ran. Probably most other people at the rally did, too.

At the same time, most of them seemed to think that how Grimes votes in presidential elections should have no bearing on her senate bid.

Kyle Henderson, business manager of Paducah Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184, said his focus is on holding the house for the Democrats and electing Grimes.
 
Sanderson’s stepson and deputy rally organizer, Henderson is for Grimes and doesn’t care if she voted for Obama or not. “Everybody needs to get over it. We need to keep our eye on the prize.”

Grimes backer Larry Johnson agreed. “It’s a private matter when you go into that voting booth,” said Johnson, who is retired from Calvert City International Association of Machinists Local Lodge 1720.

Howard “Bubba” Dawes is with his union brother. “I have always been a Democrat, and I will vote for Alison Lundergan Grimes,” said Dawes, directing business representative for Calvert City-based IAM District Lodge 154.

Ron Spann, a retired United Steelworkers District 8 staff representative from Reidland, a Paducah suburb, is unconcerned that his candidate wouldn’t divulge whom she voted for. “That’s her business.”

Mike Stone of Paducah Millwrights Local 1076, doesn’t know “why anybody would care who she voted for in the last general election. I’m voting for her anyway.”

Ludeina Manning, a UAW retiree from Paducah, is sticking with Grimes. “I don’t care if she voted for Obama or not.”

Ralph Layne of Murray, another UAW retiree, is for Grimes “because I’m an ornery Democrat. What she said is irrelevant.”

Likewise, Susan Tolbert, a member of Local 184, is unbothered by the controversy “because she is going to do a wonderful job when she gets in.”

Robert Wilson of Madisonville, who belongs to Plumbers Local 633 in Owensboro, is still in Grimes’ corner. “We know the person she is running against is against us.”

Benny Heady, also of Plumbers 184, is staying with Grimes. “I don’t know why people are so hung up on this. It is time for us to go forward with her, not look back.”

Joe Phelps of Louisville defended Grimes. “It is a secret ballot, and it is your choice whether you want to tell people who you voted for or not – I am voting for her, and it doesn’t matter to me who she supported in the past,” said Phelps, a staff representative for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Indiana-Kentucky Organizing Committee 962.
 
Though McConnell is from Louisville, he has turned down invitations to meet with the board as Grimes did.

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