Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes hits Obama hard on EPA rule

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With the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed power plant rules posing a threat to Democrats running in coal-reliant states, Alison Lundergan Grimes is fighting back early -- and fiercely -- by attacking the president and the EPA in a new radio ad.

In the ad, which is running mainly throughout Kentucky's coal counties in the east and west of the state, Grimes takes President Obama to task for the new regulations on carbon emissions, which would be phased in over the next 15 years.

"Mr. President, Kentucky has lost one-third of our coal jobs in just the last three years," Grimes says in the ad. "Now your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie-in-the-sky regulations that are impossible to achieve."

"It’s clear you have no idea how this affects Kentucky," Grimes adds.

The message is consistent with the pro-coal stance Grimes has taken in the election, if more pointed. In Kentucky, support for the coal industry, by far the state's biggest producer of energy, has long been bipartisan.

But Grimes' Republican opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has sought to make coal a wedge issue by tying Grimes to the Obama administration's environmental policies. He also has touted his own record of defending the industry, most recently with his proposed Coal Country Protection Act, which would prevent the new regulations from taking effect until the administration could guarantee no loss of jobs.

After Grimes' campaign introduced its radio ad, McConnell's campaign quickly panned Grimes' message as "belated."

"Her belated concern about the war on coal now that she's a candidate, after helping to ensure it by backing Obama, is insulting and transparently political," said Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for McConnell.

The match-up between McConnell and Grimes is among the most heated this year, with public polls consistently showing the two candidates in a statistical tie.

GOP campaign arm also uses EPA, to target Dems

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is looking to make proposed carbon emission limits for power plants a political headache for some Senate Democrats.

The NRSC is sending out robocalls hitting Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Udall of Colorado and Mark Warner of Virginia over the proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule. The calls will attempt to tie those Democrats to President Obama and his climate policies, which Republicans say would raise energy prices, as the GOP attempts to make the proposed rule a key issue in battleground states.

"These extreme regulations prove that instead of fighting to defend middle-class Americans, Democrats like Landrieu, Begich, Udall and Warner will once again fall in line and remain loyal to the liberal Obama agenda. Their uphill climb just got even steeper," the NRSC said.

That's not to say all those Democrats supported the Environmental Protection Agency proposal.

Landrieu slammed the rule, saying Congress should decide emissions regulations. Begich expressed concern, though he didn't reject or endorse it. Warner stopped short of giving it a thumbs up or down, but approved of the EPA extending the comment period to 120 days, up from 60, at the request of nearly four dozen senators.

Cochran, McDaniel head to runoff in Mississippi

The Tea Party is on the verge of claiming its first incumbent scalp of the 2014 election cycle as insurgent Republican Chris McDaniel forced Sen. Thad Cochran into a GOP primary runoff in Mississippi.

McDaniel, a state senator, had a narrow lead over Cochran, but none of the three candidates reached the 51 percent needed to avoid the June 24 runoff.

Cochran, who has served in Congress since 1973 and is seeking his seventh Senate term, presented the Tea Party with perhaps its best opportunity of the election cycle to oust an incumbent GOP senator. And, McDaniel, thanks to a better-than-expected showing in Jones County, his home turf, might have delivered. Bellwether DeSoto County, a Memphis suburb in the northwest corner of Mississippi, also went strongly for McDaniel.

Runoffs are notoriously low turnout affairs that favor the surging candidate. That could spell doom for Cochran, although the unpredictable nature of the contest could offer yet more surprises before it’s all over.

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