By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has been endorsed by the National Education Association and the Kentucky Education Association.
Meanwhile, Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Steve Robertson wants a U.S. Attorney to investigate claims by independent candidate Ed Marksberry that an unnamed person associated with the Kentucky Democratic Party or the Grimes campaign offered him financial inducements to get out of the race.
Both are running for the U.S. Senate seat held by five-term incumbent and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell also faces a primary opponent in Matt Bevin, a Louisville investment manager who is backed by some tea party groups.
The NEA/KEA announcement was trumpeted by the Grimes campaign Monday. KEA president, Madison County teacher Stephanie Winkler, said KEA members will work “tirelessly” to elect Grimes.
“Our children and educators deserve a champion who will protect and advance Kentucky’s future,” Winkler said. “In the U.S. Senate, Alison will fight for our schools in all corners of the state.” The RPK call for an investigation follows a recent Marksberry letter to Page One Kentucky, an online political blog operated by Jake Payne, in which Marksberry claimed he was offered inducements by an unnamed person to drop out of the Democratic primary last year before he decided to run as an independent.
But WFPL Public Radio’s Phillip Bailey has also reported that Marksberry told him last September that no one had offered him anything to get out of the race. Officials for the Kentucky Democratic Party and Grimes’ campaign have flatly denied offering Marksberry anything to withdraw.
Also on Monday a conservative group which has endorsed Bevin, the Madison Project, announced it plans to open and staff five get-out-the-vote offices in Kentucky on Bevin’s behalf. In a news release, the Madison Project said it will open offices in Glasgow, Bowling Green, Florence, Louisville and Owensboro.
David Dickerson, a former Republican Barren County Judge/Executive said he’s helping get the Glasgow GOTV office off the ground for the Madison Project.
“I’m just a volunteer,” said Dickerson who supports Bevin.
He said he’d met with Drew Ryun, the political director of the Madison Project, at training sessions in Elizabethtown and Bowling Green.
“I and four or five others went to the training in Bowling Green and we told them we understood Glasgow was near Bowling Green and smaller and more rural than the other towns, but we wanted to do whatever we could to help,” Dickerson said. “And they said they wanted to help us given our interest and commitment.”
The GOTV efforts won’t be allowed to coordinate with the Bevin campaign under the laws governing independent groups working in elections.
McConnell has taken on the outside conservative groups like Madison Project and the Senate Conservatives Fund which have supported Republican primary challengers who upset establishment candidates and then lost the ensuing general elections in other states.
McConnell says those cost Republicans control of the U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2012 and he’s vowed not to let that happen in 2014 when Democrats are defending 21 seats to Republicans’ 14.
Allison Moore, spokeswoman for the McConnell campaign, didn’t directly respond to the Madison Project’s announcement but criticized the group for working against incumbent Republicans.
“Their genius strategy is to smear Mitch McConnell, call Rand Paul a ‘tool,’ and then ask Kentucky Republicans to abandon their own and support Matt Bevin,” Moore said. “They’ve got a better chance of signing up Barack Obama than any Kentucky conservatives to help their cause.”
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.