Grimes Pegs McConnell as "Senator of Yesterday"

Grimes Pegs McConnell as "Senator of Yesterday"
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In the closely watched U.S. Senate race in Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign is banking on the notion that any concerns about the challenger's relative inexperience will be trumped by Kentucky voters' overriding desire for change in Washington.  

Elected to her first public office in 2011, the 35-year-old Kentucky secretary of state presents a glaring contrast to her opponent, 72-year-old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

That stark juxtaposition in age is one that her campaign is eager to emphasize. At a rally in Hopkinsville last week, Grimes noted that McConnell’s Washington tenure has been just shy of three decades.  

“He is the senator of yesterday,” she said, adding that the incumbent is “championing yesterday’s minimum wage, yesterday’s treatment of women, yesterday’s coddling of special interests and Wall Street bankers.” 

The “senator of yesterday” line is set to become a well-worn mantra for the Grimes campaign, as a spokesperson characterized it as a “new point of attack” that the Democrat will continue to employ.  

Polls have thus far offered encouraging news regarding Grimes’ uphill battle to unseat the five-term lawmaker in November and become Kentucky’s first female senator. She leads McConnell by a slim 0.5 percent margin, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average of recent public opinion surveys.  

In addition, McConnell’s approval ratings in the state have been well underwater, and Grimes has generated substantial buzz from national Democrats, who are rallying behind her upset bid. Former President Clinton campaigned on her behalf last month, helping to draw even more attention to what has become perhaps the marquee race of the midterms.

But Kentucky’s electorate for federal races tilts deeply Republican, and the state has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992. And so the McConnell campaign has sought to use Grimes’ national party ties against her. 

"Alison Lundergan Grimes may be a new face, but she's pushing the same old agenda of President Obama and the national liberals who are funding her campaign,” McConnell spokesperson Allison Moore said in a statement to RCP. “Her big-spending, anti-coal platform is severely out of touch with Kentucky."  

Though Grimes has proven herself to be a capable fundraiser, she still lags far behind the McConnell money machine. The minority leader has a significant cash-on-hand advantage of $10.9 million to $3.3 million, as of the last FEC filing

Before he gets to the general election, McConnell must first fend off a primary challenge from businessman Matt Bevin, who has trailed far behind the incumbent Republican in recent polls.

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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