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Alison Lundergan Grimes speaking at campaign rally
Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes campaigned last week in coal country. Grimes even brought in former President Bill Clinton to boost her credibility with coal miners, and touted her endorsement by the United Mine Workers. But there was something both she and McConnell left out of their speeches, and it's a crying shame it was ignored. The invaluable Joe Sonka reports:
What wasn’t mentioned by either candidate in their speeches before laid-off coal miners was the fact that they both were located in counties that have seen the most dramatic decrease in the percentage of residents without health insurance in Kentucky—all thanks to the landmark legislation of the unpopular president they were there to roast. […]

[A]n examination of enrollment numbers through Kynect, Kentucky’s state insurance exchange made possible by the Affordable Care Act, shows that the uninsured rate dropped more dramatically in Perry County (where Hazard is located [and Grimes and Clinton appeared]) than in any other Kentucky county. […]

McConnell’s speech was just inside Whitley County’s border in Corbin, which has the second-largest estimated plunge in the percentage of uninsured among Kentucky counties. In 2012, 23,972 Whitley County residents were insured and 5,153 residents were not, but 6,382 people enrolled through Kynect. Assuming the same 75 percent figure, this estimate would have Whitley County’s uninsured rate falling from nearly 18 percent to less than 2 percent.

It's pretty damned clear why McConnell failed to bring it up—every time he opens his mouth on the subject, complete nonsense spills out.

But it's absolutely true that Kentucky had a huge drop in its uninsured rate, second only to Arkansas, according to Gallup's survey. That's thanks to Obamacare, or as it's known in Kentucy, Kynect. And Kynect is relatively popular in this very red state—more popular than McConnell, who has a 54 percent unfavorable rating compared to Kynect's 27 percent opposed.

Given what a disaster McConnell is on this issue, Grimes should be going on offense with it. That's particularly true in the places where it's really working.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 01:12 PM PDT.

Also republished by My Old Kentucky Kos and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 01:12:26 PM PDT

  •  Every Dem should be going on the offense with it.. (13+ / 0-)

    A mind like a book, has to be open to function properly.

    by falconer520 on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:37:49 PM PDT

    •  Luckily, states where ACA flopped are blue (0+ / 0-)

      Maryland Health Connection has been an utter boondoggle, and may weigh on LtGov Brown in the general (he was charged w setting it up).
      Oregon exchange hasn't been doing well either. Least the races here+there are not as important nationally.

  •  Anyone got a reason why she isn't about ACA ... (6+ / 0-)

    ... and Kynect? This should be the best news around.

    And it also gives her a chance to talk about how garbled and unreliable McConnell is when he talks about it.

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:44:17 PM PDT

  •  With the latest PPP poll showing McConnell (10+ / 0-)

    with a 4 point lead and some potential additional libertarian support, she is going to have to do something else to change the dynamic of the race. She isn't going to win by getting Republican votes. She needs to go after the votes that people like Beshear have won, and that means using populist appeals to how government can work for the people.  Kynect is the best example.  She won't win that race unless she takes a much more progressive tilt on economic and public policy issues.

    Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit

    by khyber900 on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:47:08 PM PDT

  •  I hope she crushes McConnell (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, CWinebrinner, Tommy Aces

    And I hope Kentuckians wake up to the fact that coal is dead or soon will be;

    Coal production and employment trends

    According the the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook, Central Appalachian coal production is projected to drop sharply between 2012 and 2020. Using figures provided by the U.S. EIA, a recent report by MACED calculated that coal production in eastern Kentucky is expected to fall by 70% in the eight years between 2012 and 2020. That’s in line with the rate of actual decline in recent years.
    The 2009 National Coal Resource Assessment produced by the U.S. Geological Survey echoes that prediction, stating that “annual coal production from the Appalachian Basin will enter a period of irreversible decline during the next several decades.”

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action. UID: 9742

    by Shockwave on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:49:22 PM PDT

    •  No offense, but: (0+ / 0-)

      This ain't no bumpersticker:

      "Using figures provided by the U.S. EIA, a recent report by MACED calculated that coal production in eastern Kentucky is expected to fall by 70% in the eight years between 2012 and 2020. That’s in line with the rate of actual decline in recent years."

      This kind of is:

      "The President is black."

  •  ACA was noticeably absent (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned, Mr MadAsHell

    at Fancy Farm as well. She hit him with everything but healthcare.

    Perhaps a third-party needs to bring this to the forefront if she's afraid of it.

    A rising tide sinks all boats that are anchored to the bottom.

    by Zwoof on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:55:13 PM PDT

  •  Time for her to own it (3+ / 0-)

    Grimes should be blanketing the airways with stories of people who have benefited from Kynect. People who were able to afford health insurance for the first time in their lives.  If she does not want to mention Obama, then fine.  But she should be utilizing Beshear.  McConnell has no answer for Kynect.

  •  I've talked to her campaign about the ACA (9+ / 0-)

    I wrote a diary about this issue.  I've talked to someone with the Grimes' campaign, specifically about her avoidance of the Medicaid expansion. And they said nothing in reply to my complaint that she needed to use the Medicaid expansion in KY against McConnell. I've sent emails galore cajoling, pleading, and complaining about her silence on the Medicaid expansion.

    I'm one of those who has health insurance because of the Medicaid expansion.  And I definitely need it because I've had to be hospitalized in the past for anaphylaxis, and I am currently seeing an allergist to track down what I'm allergic to.  I had a recent severe allergic reaction while undergoing a dental procedure, so Medicaid is helping to keep me alive.

    Unfortunately, the racism against Obama in Kentucky is driving the Grimes campaign to run from the ACA.  She has decided to let Gov. Beshear to defend Kynect, and she is avoiding anything to do with Obama like the plague.

    Frankly, this is why I will not work for Grimes as a campaign volunteer.  She will get my vote, but until she decides to lead on this issue, forget it.  

  •  Dems run away from success (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    At least it always seems like it.

  •  Gee, you would think ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr MadAsHell

    That with "the country" being so much like DK, "ready for Liz Warren" and all, that Grimes wouldn't be such a gutless wonder on this issue.

    Hmm.  What could it be?

    That she knows Kentucky is still Kentucky?  That "those people" might now have health insurance but "dammit, Paw, our premiums jes' keep goin' up on account of that n%&*$# Preznit!  And we built this durn country!""  

    I don't really blame her.  It's a damned shame but that's our glorious votership for you.

    Tell me again how balls-to-the-wall progressivism can win nationally in 2016.

  •  I don't think she wins here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, Tribecastan

    without going all in on ACA. It's definitely McConnell's Achilles heel and she's got too many things working against her to leave it on the table and expect to pull this out.

  •   A sign of the times (0+ / 0-)

    Bill Clinton is a FAR better advocate for democratic candidates than Barack Obama is these days.  It's a sign of the times and as much as I hate to say it, this could spell doom and gloom for democrats in November.  

    Obama is like kryptonite to democratic candidates right now except in heavily blue districts and/or states.  I don't like what I'm seeing and hearing.

  •  Grimes wants to avoid Obama as much as possible (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    [S]e assured the Hazard audience that she’s not one of those Obama Democrats. Rather, she said, “I’m a Clinton Democrat!”
    Then the article discusses the Clintons failure to pass healthcare, and how Hillary's environmental platform was more aggressive than Obama's EPA current programs.

    The plan, least/hopefully for now, is to blame Obama.

    Grimes and McConnell may have major policy disagreements on many issues, but they are singing the same tune when it comes to blaming Obama (largely in dubious fashion) for the decline of the coal industry and remaining mute on what Obama’s signature legislation has done for health care access in the heart of coal country.
  •  "Kynect = Obamacare" would be my 24/7 theme. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, White Buffalo

    I'd hammer that home every chance I got until the election. At this point, she's got nothing to lose and everything to win.

    With lots of Kentuckians that love Kynect but hate Obamacare (i.e. hate Obama), they need to finally be told the connection, and they'll have to be told very often, even if some get tired of hearing it. The truth is too important not to repeat, because the reverse is true, too: Lose Obamacare = lose Kynect.

    Sure, there'll be some who will still vote GOP, maybe some who will even cancel their Kynect insurance just to "stick it to Obama." Alison won't be getting their votes no matter what issues her campaign embraces or avoids. But I have to think quite a few will begin to lose some of their distaste for Obamacare when they actually see it working, instead of thinking it is the harbinger of socialist doom as McTurtle and Co. have been, and will continue, portraying it. And perhaps, just perhaps, some Kentuckians who see the benefits of Kynect/Obamacare will manage to put two and two together, and see the GOP for the lying, greedy, hypocritical, manipulative sacks of Derby-droppings that they really are.

    Too much risk, you say?

    Alison can still distance herself from Obama in every other area. This is KY, and I realize she'll need to; 3.5 years in Louisville, another 3.5 in Middlesboro, so I know. But on this, she can pound home the need to improve it, instead of kill it. The only thing missing at Fancy Farms was this: "One of us wants to repeal Kynect, one of us wants to make it better!"

    Kynect = Obamacare.

    It'll even fit on bumper stickers.

    “Humanity's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but humanity's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” ― Reinhold Niebuhr

    by ktowntennesseedem on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 05:17:41 PM PDT

  •  I think Grimes has been a pretty fantastic (0+ / 0-)

    candidate, especially for someone trying to win in a state like KY, against a 30 yr incumbent.

    However, if there is gonna be one fatal flaw, or at least huge missed opportunity, it's gonna be her TOTAL inability to capitalize on the total disaster that is Mitch's position on Obamacare/KYnect.

    She's gonna win far more votes from running hard on KYnect than she'll lose by being tied to Obamacare. Not only that, but Mitch is really in no position to counter-attack on the issue.

    If Nov. 4th comes, and she loses this race by a handful of votes, it will be because her campaign was too afraid to break out one of the biggest tools in her toolbox.

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