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Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D. KY) may have had a rough start in her bid to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY), but she's wowing Democratic donors:

Photo by Nancy Taggart.Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democratic candidate for Secretary of State from Lexington, speaks Friday evening to supporters during a campaign reception at HangerÕs Restaurant in Richmond.
In her first major appearance before national party leaders, Saturday on Martha's Vineyard, Grimes wowed Democratic senators, Senate candidates and donors alike at the party's annual private summer fundraising retreat.

Each year the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee invites top donors to schmooze with senators, especially those up for reelection, and inspect the merchandise of challengers who will take on Republican incumbents.

Grimes spoke to the group Saturday morning and brought the jaded and normally undemonstrative crowd to its feet in wild applause, said one top donor, who had been deeply skeptical of the idea that McConnell could be knocked off by anyone. He and another attendee spoke to The Huffington Post on the condition that their names not be used.

Grimes' feisty talk, the sources said, mixed a commitment to a Democratic job-creation agenda with a pedal-to-the-metal attack on McConnell.

"I've been going to these for years, and I have never, until this morning, seen a candidate get a standing O," said the donor, who is among the top 100 contributors to the committee over the last five years. "It was amazing." - Huffington Post, 7/13/13

This is good to hear because Grimes stated that she is going to need to raise a lot of money if she wants to beat McConnell:

But how much? Between $26 million and $30 million, according to a Democratic strategist who recently spoke with Grimes. Even with Election Day still 17 months away, Grimes has been busy courting DC politicos to raise funds, name-dropping the Clintons in her conversations. Grimes' father, Jerry, a former director of the Kentucky Democratic Party, is friends with Bill Clinton, who reportedly urged Grimes to run against McConnell. (Grimes spokesman Jonathan Hurst did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Even by the standards of today's big-money politics, Grimes' $26-30 million target is a staggering sum of money. It's almost three times more than the average winning Senate race in 2012. Only four Senate candidates—Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, David Dewhurst of Texas, and Linda McMahon of Connecticut—raised more than $26 million during the 2012 election season. And Grimes' fundraising goal does not include outside groups—super-PACs, dark-money nonprofits, etc. Depending on how competitive the Kentucky race is, tens of millions more in outside money could pour in.

Grimes' impressive showing at the Martha's Vineyard event could help donors and party loyalists forget her campaign's rocky start. Her kick-off event started half an hour late, with no banner or signs even mentioning the US Senate. Instead, an "Alison Lundergan Grimes: Secretary of State" banner hung behind her. A roll of toilet paper propped up one of the microphones she used make her announcement. At the time of her campaign launch, she had no website, no Facebook page, and nowhere for people to donate money. - Mother Jones, 7/15/13

She is going to need to raise a lot of money in order to keep up with McConnell.  By the way, here's McConnell's latest lame attack on Grimes:

“Well, she announced and went into hiding,” McConnell said at an impromptu press conference Friday. “What we do know for sure about my opponent is she thinks Harry Reid, from Nevada, would be a better leader of the Senate than a Kentuckian, and what we do know is that Harry Reid has said, quote, ‘Coal makes you sick.’

“If I had the support of someone like that who recruited me into the race, maybe I’d be hiding out, too,” McConnell said.

Brad Dayspring, a consultant with the Republican National Senatorial Committee, tweeted on Thursday, “Has anyone in #Kentucky or elsewhere seen or heard from @AlisonForKY in the last week? We’re concerned.” - Louisville-Courier Journal, 7/14/13

This is the type of shit Grimes and her supporters are going to have to deal with.  McConnell will do whatever it takes to distract Kentucky voters from the fact that he's an obstructionist dick who isn't interested in governing.  Especially while he dukes it out with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) over filibuster reform:

The leaders are clashing because each believes the other is destroying the integrity of the institution, where they have spent nearly 60 collective years and taken similar paths to power.

If Reid deploys the “nuclear option” as early as Tuesday — in which senators would change the filibuster rules by a simple majority instead of 67 votes — gridlock in the Senate could worsen with major budget fights ahead in the fall and a slew of presidential nominees expected to hit the Senate floor in the coming months.

The rules change wouldn’t affect legislation or judicial nominees, but the nuclear option could be repeated by future majorities to further weaken the filibuster. - Politico, 7/14/13

But some think that Grimes' entrance in the race might motivate McConnell to be less of an obstructionist and actually do his job:

At an appearance in Kentucky earlier this month, McConnell made it clear he plans to wield his power in Washington as an electoral weapon. “On the influence side, Kentucky would lose dramatically by trading in the leader of one of the two parties in the Senate for a rookie,” he said. “I sit in the front row; my opponent, if she were elected, would sit in the back row. So that’s really what this election is going to be about.”

Democrats say McConnell is in a political box. If he cuts a debt-limit compromise this fall, he will anger conservative activists who are already leery of him and whom he must motivate to turn out in an off-year election. A tea-party challenger could emerge all the way until the filing deadline and could still weaken, even if not defeat, McConnell. Meanwhile, if he stands on the sidelines amid a fiscal crisis, Democrats say it would feed further into the obstructionist narrative about him that has already taken hold. “A minefield,” Matt Canter, deputy executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, called it. “I don’t think cutting a deal that Republicans and Democrats hate or continuing his usual obstruction mode is helpful for him politically. Both are bad political options.”

McConnell’s advisers, past and present, scoff at the Democratic strategy of portraying him as obstructionist. Stopping President Obama is a plus in Kentucky, they say. It’s a state, after all, where the president lost 42 percent of the Democratic primary vote in 2012 and 62 percent of the general-election vote. “I think being viewed as obstructing the Obama agenda is a genuine compliment in Kentucky,” said Hunter Bates, who managed McConnell’s 2002 reelection. Still, if McConnell is, as Bates said, “the best political chess player in Washington and constantly anticipating and outflanking the other side,” nothing would undercut an obstructionist label quite like a Rose Garden handshake this fall to celebrate his role in averting a default.

McConnell advisers insist that being on the ballot won’t alter the leader’s legislative course. His history, they say, points to a willingness to take tough stands, even in the midst of reelection campaigns. He worked on the unpopular financial bailout in 2008, only months before he was on the ballot, and in late 1995 he was one of only a handful of Republicans to oppose a popular constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning despite facing reelection the next year. “Politics back home don’t affect the way he leads in Washington at all,” Benton said.

Of course, Benton’s presence on Team McConnell is evidence to the contrary. Benton previously managed the 2010 campaign of Sen. Rand Paul, a fellow Kentuckian and tea-party favorite McConnell opposed in the primary but has since embraced. It’s a mutually beneficial political bear hug in which Paul, who is eyeing the presidency in 2016, gets establishment credentials and McConnell shores up tea-party support. - National Journal, 7/11/13

I wouldn't hold my breath about that but Nate Silver points out that Democrats are hell bent on ending McConnell's political career next yer:

Kentucky. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, has only break-even approval ratings, and Democrats got one of their better potential recruits in Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state. Although some early polls show a relatively close race, the fundamentals favor Mr. McConnell as Kentucky has become very red-leaning and as he is likely to have a strong fund-raising edge. One factor helping Ms. Grimes is the lack of other credible pickup opportunities for Democrats, which could mean that more Democratic money will be directed toward her race. Still, she will have to run a pitch-perfect campaign to win in such a conservative state in a midterm year. - Nate Silver, New York Times, 7/15/13
If you would like to get involved or donate to Grimes' campaign, you can do so here:

Or you can donate here:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 07:00 PM PDT.

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

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