TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service
Not that there was ever any suspense, but Mitch McConnell made it official Tuesday: he wants a sixth term in the U.S. Senate.
McConnell’s state director, Terry Carmack, dropped off McConnell’s filing papers Tuesday morning at the office of Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the woman who likely will face off against him in the general election.
The papers were signed by McConnell’s fellow Republican U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, and by Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Almost simultaneously the McConnell campaign released a video titled “United” which features Paul and Comer endorsing McConnell’s leadership as Minority Leader in the Senate.
“What he has done and what allows him to be the most powerful Republican up there is that he can pull people together — united on Obamacare, united on a balanced budget amendment,” Paul says in the video.
McConnell traveled last week to Bowling Green where Paul and Comer signed his candidacy papers and presumably also made their video appearances.
Comer said in the video: “I’m honored to be here to show my support for Sen. McConnell and I want to thank you for the great work that you’re doing in Washington and we’re going to do everything we can to send you back.”
McConnell is seeking a sixth term and is hoping he’ll preside over a new Republican majority in 2015, achieving his life-long dream of being Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate.
But he first must overcome a primary challenge by Louisville investment manager Matt Bevin, who “welcomed” McConnell to the race in a press release Tuesday afternoon. He said he hopes McConnell will join him in “a substantive discussion” of the issues in the coming months.
McConnell leads Bevin by wide margins in most publicly released polls but the latest — by a Democratic leaning pollster — indicates Bevin has narrowed the gap though he still trails by more than 20 points.
Grimes is the presumptive favorite for the Democratic nomination. Her only opponent in the race is University of Louisville professor Greg Leichty. Owensboro contractor Ed Marksberry originally planned to run in the Democratic primary but registered as an independent, complaining the state Democratic Party favored Grimes in the primary.
Marksberry also contends in a letter to Page One, a Kentucky political blog, that someone close to Grimes’ father, former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, offered to cover some of his campaign debts if he’d drop out of the race.
Grimes’ campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton said Marksberry’s letter “is definitely not accurate. No one with this campaign ever offered Marksberry anything to drop out of this race.”
The Kentucky Senate race will be one of the most watched in the country next year. Democrats, which must defend 21 seats to Republicans’ 14 in 2014, see McConnell as vulnerable. Despite the state’s consistent Republican trend in federal elections, McConnell’s poll numbers indicate he’s not popular in his own state.
However, most polls have him leading Bevin and either tied or a point or so behind or ahead of Grimes.
RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.