Grimes files with entourage of big-name Ky. Democrats while distancing herself from D.C. Democrats

01/09/2014 04:39 PM

Alison Lundergan Grimes officially became a U.S. Senate candidate Thursday surrounded by a who’s who of Kentucky Democrats at the same time she continued to distance herself from national Democrats.

Five of the seven living Democratic governors of Kentucky joined her in the tiny filing office at the state Capitol just before 2 p.m.. Gov. Steve Beshear and former governors Julian Carroll, John Y. Brown Jr., Martha Layne Collins and Paul Patton, as well as Grimes’ grandmother Elsie Case, signed Grimes’ candidate paperwork as witnesses. So did Democratic statewide officials Auditor Adam Edelen, Attorney General Jack Conway and Treasurer Todd Hollenbach.

U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville, who was in Washington, and former governors Brereton Jones and Wendell Ford also signed Grimes’ candidacy papers but weren’t able to join Grimes Thursday.

Grimes used the occasion to underscore how she says the Democratic Party is unified behind her campaign to unseat Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

And after filing, Grimes criticized McConnell’s most recent position to vote against a three-month extension of unemployment benefits because McConnell says its $6.4 billion cost should be covered.

McConnell’s campaign has sought to put pressure on Grimes by linking her to President Barck Obama and Senate Democratic Harry Reid of Nevada. In fact, from the day Grimes announced her candidacy in July, McConnell has said a vote for Grimes in 2014 is a vote for Harry Reid to remain the U.S. Senate leader for the next two years.

Grimes sidestepped questions from reporters about whether she will support Reid as leader if she’s elected to the Senate in November. Here’s what she said:

Grimes isn’t the only Democratic U.S. Senate candidates to dance around questions about national Democrats like Reid and Obama. West Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant, also a secretary of state, dodged similar questions about president in a New York Times article last month.

Veteran Kentucky Democrats, such as former Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., say Grimes is right to establish independence from national Democratic leaders.

McConnell, meanwhile, filed his paperwork earlier this week. Actually as Ronnie Ellis of CNHI News Service reported earlier this week, McConnell’s state director Terry Carmack turned in the senator’s candiacy papers on Tuesday.

McConnell’s Republican challenger Matt Bevin filed Nov. 15.

_(This story was updated to reflect the Kentucky Democratic officials who signed Grimes’ papers but weren’t present at the event). _

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