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POLITICS: PennAve

Kentucky secretary of state to challenge Mitch McConnell

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Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Monday she will run against Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Grimes had been considering a run for many weeks, leaving some to believe she was not fully confident she could beat the six-term lawmaker, who has staved off tough challenges in the past.

“I am no stranger to being an underdog,” Grimes, 34, told supporters when she made her announcement in Frankfort.

She told reporters she spent recent weeks “gathering all the necessary facts,” and that her “due diligence was not reluctance” to challenge McConnell, 71.

Republicans have been running ads against Grimes even before she announced her candidacy.

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership last month began airing a spot linking Grimes with President Obama.

It’s a potentially damaging connection because Kentucky is a coal producing state and Obama has moved to curtail coal plants, making a recent speech that proposed limiting pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Grimes on Monday dismissed the ads as “based on fears of [McConnell] losing his 30 year grip on power.”

The Senate’s Republican campaign arm on Monday lost no time tying Grimes to Obama.

“Just last year, Alison Lundergan Grimes stood proudly at the Democratic National Convention to nominate Barack Obama, who has followed through on his promise to destroy the coal industry; in essence declared a war on the state of Kentucky and the middle class families who call it home,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Rob Collins said.

“Kentuckians have absolutely no reason to send Alison Lundergan Grimes to Washington to help pass the policies of a President whom they adamantly oppose and to elect a liberal Senate Leader who declared, ‘coal makes us sick.’”

McConnell, however, is not wildly popular in his state and will likely be spending ample time and money defending his tenure.

In May, Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, found McConnell tied with his then-potential opponent Grimes, with 45 percent of support each among voters in the Bluegrass State. The poll was conducted for a Democratic political action committee.

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