How the national press views the start of the 2014 U.S. Senate race

07/08/2013 08:20 AM

It will be a nasty, generational battle between a largely untested moderate Democrat against an entrenched, powerful Republican in a state where a majority of voters don’t think much of the president. That’s how the national press is setting up the expected race next year between Alison Lundergan Grimes and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

The Hill’s Alexandra Jaffe wrote- that Kentucky Democrats will highlight the demographic differences between Grimes and McConnell to underscore her time-for-a-change message.

Advisers to Lundergan Grimes have indicated their plan is to draw a sharp contrast with McConnell, portraying her as an optimistic, likable alternative to the incumbent, who polls have shown is one of the most unpopular senators in the nation. The most obvious difference is age. Lundergan Grimes, first elected to statewide office in 2011, is 34. McConnell is 71 and was elected to the Senate in 1984, when Lundergan Grimes was turning 6.

MSNBC’s Perry Bacon wrote that Grimes can go where Ashley Judd could not in the challenge to McConnell:

In short, Grimes is likely to run the kind of campaign that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin did successfully in 2010 and 2012. One of her advisers noted the campaign will likely model that of North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp last year: a determined effort to separate from President Obama combined with an aggressive anti-Washington message. If Judd had run and loudly expressed liberal views in a red state, she would have delighted Democrats nationally but had long odds of winning.

Politico’s Manu Raju reports that Republican Senate fundraising has kicked into high gear as the party tries to wrest control from Democrats. But to do it, that means defending key GOP seats, like McConnell’s. Raju writes that Grimes and Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Georgia U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, have similar challenges in trying to flip control of two GOP seats.

… Grimes and Nunn are both untested candidates and it remains to be seen whether they can withstand the barrage of attacks and distance themselves from an unpopular White House in their respective red states.

And the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza called it the start of the “nastiest race in the country.” Cillizza cites common knowledge that McConnell is known for taking no prisoners in his campaigns. But he also reports why Democrats will make it equally brutal:

McConnell understands that his time in Washington deeply divides the Kentucky public — and, because of that, his path to victory lies not in convincing Bluegrass State residents of his virtues but rather in making clear that his opponent is unacceptable.

Democratic donors from around the country will dump money into this race like they will no other in the country and ) there will be no compunction from Democrats to savage McConnell since, in so doing, they will be drumming up even more dollars. It’s a virtuous cycle, politically speaking.


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