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Today, Governor Steve Beshear (D. KY) did the right thing:

Gov. Steve Beshear (D) announced Kentucky would participate in a key element of President Barack Obama's health care plan to enroll more people in Medicaid.

Beshear tweeted the news Thursday afternoon:

Beshear is one of the last governors in the country to announce his position on Medicaid expansion, a plan that has faced difficulty thanks to Republican infighting. - Huffington Post, 5/9/13
Governor Beshear defended his decision to expand Medicaid:

"The bottom line is it's the right thing to do," Beshear said.
Beshear said he made the decision after completing research that found Kentucky will benefit in terms of health and financial outcomes by expanding Medicaid coverage.

"In fact, if we don't expand Medicaid, we will lose money," he said.

The government health care program already provides medical coverage to some 800,000 residents. Under the Affordable Care Act, Kentucky had the option of expanding coverage to some 308,000 additional people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That means individuals making up to $15,860 a year would be eligible as would a family of four making up to $32,499.

Washington will pick up the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years, and 90 percent over the longer haul. - WLWT, 5/9/13

And of course, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY) ain't happy about that:

"Given Kentucky’s struggles to finance its current Medicaid program and the uncertainty of future federal funding, I am surprised the governor would make this decision to further implement Obamacare and expose the commonwealth’s taxpayers to more open ended expenses they cannot afford," McConnell said in a statement.

"Additionally, in my travels across Kentucky I have talked to a number of health care professionals who are concerned that a dramatic expansion of Medicaid enrollment would obviously exacerbate the already serious access-to-care problems we face in Kentucky."

Right now, Kentucky's Medicaid program costs about $6 billion.

The governor countered McConnell's argument during a press conference, citing a study that shows President Obama's health care law will actually bring $800 million to the state.

Currently, the federal government pays 70 percent of Medicaid costs and the state is responsible for the remaining 30 percent. When this provision begins, the Affordable Care Act will pick up 100 percent of the cost for the first three years. - WFPL News 89.3, 5/9/13

Meanwhile, the Kentucky GOP is trying to discourage Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D. KY) from running against McConnell:

As Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes mulls whether to challenge U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in 2014, the Kentucky Republican Party is eager to cast doubts on Grimes' potential candidacy, calling it "a last ditch effort to recruit a candidate of even second-tier credibility" and questioning whether other Democrats have ulterior motives.

Sources close to Grimes, however, are dismissing the critique as evidence that Republicans fear taking on the first term office-holder and tell WHAS11 News that Grimes is the only potential candidate to be approached by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee after one-time Senate hopeful Ashley Judd approached national Democrats yet subsequently removed her name from consideration.

"Practically every in-state Democrat has called upon her to challenge Sen. (Mitch) McConnell, after passing on the opportunity themselves," said Kelsey Cooper, Communications Director for the Republican Party of Kentucky (RPK).  "But it brings to question – why her?  And could they just be serving their own political interests by pushing her into this highly contentious race?"

Yet Democrats suggest the buzz around Grimes' potential Senate candidacy indicates her strength as a candidate rather than a weak field.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway told WHAS11 on Wednesday that Grimes has a lot of options, including as his or another Democrat's running mate in the 2015 governor's race.

"I think she would be an attractive running mate for anyone," Conway said, "and is an attractive candidate.  She has a lot of options. She could run for the senate, she could run for Congress, she could potentially run for Attorney General, she could run for reelection. I could see her being a governor herself down the road, someday," Conway said.

One of several other potential Democratic candidates for attorney general is Andrew Beshear.  His father, Governor Steve Beshear, has met with Grimes and at least two other possible Senate candidates.  

"I hope she'll jump into the (senate) race," Beshear told WHAS11 on Wednesday.  "I think we can win."

Yet if Grimes decides not to run for Senate, the governor said he hopes the ongoing discussions will produce "a good, strong candidate." - WHAS 11, 5/9/13

But Grimes is not going to let McConnell and the GOP intimidate her:

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) said she won't "be bullied" into making any immediate decisions about running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), WHAS11 reported on Thursday.

Grimes referred to leaked tapes first reported by Mother Jones, featuring McConnell discussing potential strategies for taking on actress and activist Ashley Judd, who was considering a run against him. McConnell's aides were recorded discussing Judd's potential political weaknesses, including her religious beliefs and mental health.

"I won't be bullied into any decision," Grimes told WHAS11. "I will tell you that the bully tactics that we see displayed are a continuation of those exemplified in the recording that has surfaced by Mitch McConnell. And this Kentucky woman won't be bullied." - Huffington Post, 5/3/13

By the way, McConnell's already attacking another potential candidate who has yet to declare his run:

In an opinion piece published in the Richmond Register this week, Bluegrass Institute acting president Jim Waters heaps praise on the legislation recently introduced by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to force the Environmental Protection Agency’s hand in approving or denying coal mine permits.

McConnell’s office tweeted a link to the op-ed twice (today and yesterday), which makes sense because it’s an article about the legislation the GOP leader introduced to expedite the EPA’s regulatory timeline. But it’s also an article attacking environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald, who has said he’s flirting with the idea of challenging McConnell as a Democrat in next year’s election.

Waters’ piece pits McConnell and FitzGerald against each other, and paints the environmental activist—who’s known for working pretty well with industry when he advocates for stricter regulations—as clueless and out of touch with the minutiae of coal mine permits.

Few would argue that the EPA’s tighter regulations haven’t had an effect on the state’s coal industry, but those regulations have also come with numerous other factors that have made it less appealing to mine and burn coal.

Even so, it’s hard to call the coal industry “amazingly resilient” when it’s having trouble adapting to the changing landscape, regulations and all. When American Electric Power announced it would retire at least part of its Big Sandy coal-fired power plant in Eastern Kentucky, it was because it couldn’t justify that continued coal burning was the least-cost option for rate payers, and other power plants are following suit. - WFPL News 89.3, 5/7/13

And when he's not out attacking potential candidates or Beshear for caring about the people of Kentucky, McConnell is pathetically trying to copy President Obama's re-election strategy:

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is taking a page from President Obama’s reelection playbook for his own campaign — embracing Internet memes, data mining and cinematic storytelling.

“They set the gold standard for digital engagement in 2012,” Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, said of the Obama team.

“I think it’s just natural that you look to your competitor to find best practices, implement what they’re doing that’s the best and try to find additional, new things on your own to improve that.”

McConnell’s effort is born out of political necessity.

The Senate minority leader, who is seeking a sixth term in 2014, is saddled by low approval ratings that rank him as one of the country’s least popular senators. - The Hill, 5/9/13

Yep, he's so unpopular that he has to resort to this:

Politico has posted a quiz called “How Well Do You Know Mitch McConnell?”, a Seventeen magazine–style questionnaire that will reveal your innermost secrets, wishes, and desires . . . to yourself. Is it “like” or “love” with Brett C.? Are you really ready to wear makeup? And is your style sending guys the wrong signal?

The ten questions of the “How Well Do You Know Mitch McConnell?” quiz do not address these important subjects directly, per se—nor do they provide a key at the end addressing how many questions one would have had to answer correctly in order to qualify as a certain kind of person. That is why we have provided the following addendum. Take Politico’s quiz, count your correct answers, and circle back this-a-way for an atlas to your soul. - Vanity Fair, 5/6/13

And this:

According to a campaign source, the technology, which is similar to event-specific advertising campaigns used by companies during this year' Super Bowl, will target "mobile devices of people within a 5 mile radius of Churchill Downs. The ads will appear in apps and mobile versions of websites that would be commonly used at the event."
Aides said the ad is designed to be a simple expression of McConnell's pride in his home state. "Mitch loves Kentucky and always celebrates the Derby. He hopes to remind everyone why this weekend is so special and share his pride with the many visitors from across the country and around the world," McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said.

Indeed, the idea of branding McConnell directly to Kentucky has long been a hallmark of his political career, a fact that the schools, buildings and roads around the state named after him bare testament to.

And for a politician who's spent decades in Washington, maintaining a high profile link to your home state can be critical. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Sen. Richard Lugar and scores of other skilled politicians have been pushed out of office thanks to charges of becoming "inside the beltway." - BuzzFeed, 5/3/13

And of course this:

Now this shit might work in eastern Kentucky but maybe not the entire state:

In eastern Kentucky, McConnell's job is easy. Voters tend to be single-issue: A politician is either for coal or against coal. But while it's a love fest for McConnell here, his approval ratings statewide are sagging, depending on what poll you read.

Walk the streets of downtown Lexington, and it's easy to find someone who thinks McConnell is spending all of his time in Washington just trying to obstruct the president, instead of paying attention to what Kentuckians want.

"He has a personal agenda," says Charles Embry, "and that's all he's attending to is his personal agenda.

"It's obvious that he doesn't take the interests of Kentucky people at heart. If he did, he would do the things that are right instead of being negative about everything that the president or anybody else is trying to do." - NPR, 5/6/13

One can only hope that Kentucky voters won't fall for McConnell's meme and video bull shit next year.

Originally posted to pdc on Thu May 09, 2013 at 06:19 PM PDT.

Also republished by My Old Kentucky Kos and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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