AFL-CIO invests in ground game in Kentucky U.S. Senate race

10/08/2014 05:52 PM

FRANKFORT — The AFL-CIO is banking on economic issues to drive voters to the polls in support of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, an official with the group said Wednesday.

Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, wrapped up a two-day tour through central Kentucky, including stops in Lexington and Lawrenceburg Tuesday. She spent Wednesday afternoon in Frankfort for a ceremony at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial.

The labor group has invested in Grimes’ campaign against Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, spending $129,926 for field work through its affiliate organization Working America, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Kentucky isn’t alone, as Working America has spent six figures on U.S. Senate races in other battleground states like Alaska and North Carolina. The group has also invested in legislative and gubernatorial elections this cycle, Shuler said.

She said the election offers a “strong, stark difference” between Grimes and McConnell, particularly on economic issues such as pay equity and raising the minimum wage. That will be key to galvanizing ordinary voters, who are in “a bit of a malaise” because of the sluggish economy.

“Our role is to get people out on the doors talking to voters and making the phone calls and making sure that people are participating,” Shuler told Pure Politics.

Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race is “probably one of the most important states” as the AFL-CIO does its part to ensure Democrats maintain control of the chamber. Republicans need to pick up six seats to attain a majority for the first time since 2007.

As McConnell makes the election a referendum on President Barack Obama and links Grimes to the unpopular president, Shuler hopes focusing on pocketbook issues will sway voters to elect Grimes over the five-term incumbent.

“Wages have been flat or stagnant for 30 years,” she said. “We know that the economy is recovering, but not quickly enough for a lot of families, and it’s important that people make that connection between what’s going on in Washington and what’s going on in their local communities, and issues like the minimum wage play right into that.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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