LEXINGTON, Ky. (8/1/13)--More than 1,500 people gathered early Tuesday evening at the Carrick House near downtown Lexington to support Alison Lundergan Grimes' official campaign kickoff as she commenced her run to become Kentucky's next Senator.
In what promises to be an intriguing political race in the Bluegrass State, Grimes is attempting to secure the Democratic nomination for the upcoming general election in November 2014. She is seeking to unseat Republican incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell who has held office since 1985. With a victory she would become the first female senator-elect in the history of Kentucky.
Shortly after taking center stage, Grimes minced no words discussing McConnell, calling him the "proud guardian of gridlock in Washington" and a politician more interested in obstruction than the best interests of his home state. During her speech she claimed Senator McConnell is responsible for a "disease of dysfunction in Washington."
She also announced that she has no intention of bowing to perceived intimidation from the McConnell campaign, proclaiming "I don't scare easy and neither does the rest of Kentucky."
"Seeing all these people here today, I'm really beginning to wonder who is actually on Team Mitch," she added.
The evening's events carried strong familial undertones as a large video screen played an introductory featurette of Grimes and her two grandmothers as they created what would eventually become her initial campaign advertisement. While her eldest grandmother, Thelma Lundergan McHugh passed away last month at the age of 92, her maternal grandmother Elsie Case was on hand to rouse the audience and introduce her granddaughter to the crowd. Grimes was also joined by her four sisters, her husband Andrew, and her parents Charlotte Lundergan and former state Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan.
A multitude of well known Kentucky Democrats including Governor Steve Beshear, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Former House Speaker Jody Richards, and three former Democratic governors Paul Patton, Martha Lane Collins, and Julian Carroll helped enliven the festivities leading up to Grimes' eventual entrance from her campaign bus, marching towards the main stage to the tune of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman.”
A statement by former Senator Wendell Ford, who was unable to attend due to family health concerns, was read prior to Grimes' appearance. Ford included a retort to the McConnell camp's early campaign ad slogan of "What rhymes with Grimes?" that responds with comments such as "not ready for primetime" and "sticks to party line."
"What rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes?" Ford's statement read, "It's changing times."
The evening also included an endorsement video from former United States President Bill Clinton who lent his active support to Grimes during her campaign. The former president called the battle for the 2014 Senate "a very important race" with national implications that would be a "long and difficult" campaign but one the Lundergan Grimes is capable of winning.
Three other candidates are planning to enter the race for the Democratic primaries, including Bennie J. Smith and Greg Lichy from Louisville and Ed Marksberry from Owensboro. The GOP Primary will see opposition to McConnell from Louisville businessman and tea party candidate Mark Bevin.
Bevin released a statement Tuesday regarding Grimes’ entry into the senate race saying, "While Allison Grimes and I are polar opposites on the issues, I welcome her to the U.S. Senate race and look forward to a civil, healthy debate about the future of our country."
Grimes, 34, has served as Kentucky's Secretary of State since 2011. She was previously a practicing attorney for Stoll Keenan Ogden in Lexington specializing in intellectual property and complex business litigation. Originally from Mayesville, Kentucky, she initially announced her intention to run in the Democratic primary election for the U.S. Senate on July 1st of this year.
Photo provided by 2013 Alison for Kentucky
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