Rural Election Watch: Kentucky

By Sean Reagan

Over in the Bluegrass state, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has been battling for his political life against Democrat Bruce Lunsford. Despite significant cash advantage – and a relatively reliable base – McConnell has been on the ropes for most of the campaign.

It’s a seat Democrats would love to grab, not least for the symbolic value of upending the Republican leader in the Senate.

Few Republicans are as thoroughly embedded in the failed politics of the Bush/Cheney administration. Bill Clinton, stumping for Lunsford last month (Hillary Clinton was in the state this past weekend), cited McConnell’s deep ties to Bush.

“You cannot pass a single bill in the U.S. Congress outside of the budget with just a majority vote if 41 senators decide to filibuster and shut you down,” Clinton told a crowd of more than 500 here. “And the man who was the leader of implementing President Bush‘s policies, if you leave him there, will be the leader of stopping a new direction for America every time they can muster 41 votes. That’s why this Mitch McConnell seat is so important.”

McConnell opposed the 2007 Fair Minimum Wage Act, opposed the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007, opposed the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007, organizing a filibuster to defeat each of them. Had they become law, those bills would have helped ordinary Kentuckians to better meet rising fuel and medical costs. It would have empowered them to make informed decisions about organizing and joining labor unions.

These votes might have played well with the current occupant of the Oval Office, but they really stick it to voters in the broad swathes of Kentucky that fall outside Louisville. Want more? McConnell voted against repealing tax subsidies for companies moving U.S. Jobs offshore. He voted down changes to SCHIP eligibility that would have provided health coverage to as many as four million additional children.

It’s votes like that led the Louisville Courier-Journal to endorse Lunsford.

[t]here are also important areas where Kentuckians regularly are denied adequate federal help — children’s health insurance and heating assistance, for example — because of the opposition of Sen. McConnell and other Republican leaders to key legislation.

The overarching consideration, however, should be Sen. McConnell’s role as a pivotal and unapologetic enabler of the Bush debacle. From ruinous tax cuts aiding the wealthy to shameful sanctioning of torture, from lack of Capitol Hill oversight to acceptance of sweeping assertions of executive authority, Sen. McConnell has backed policies that have created grave challenges at home and abroad.

That’s from the newspaper that knows him best.

With Lunsford, on the other hand,

Kentuckians would get a hard-charging former entrepreneur with state government administrative experience. His platform embraces new directions in health care, education, job training, tax policy and energy.

The latest batch of polls – all taken last week through this past weekend – indicate that McConnell continues to cling to a single digit lead. The RealClearPolitics’ rolling average puts him up 5.7 points. But according to the latest poll from the Courier-Journal, undecided voters make up nine percent of the population. If they break for Lunsford, McConnell is finished.

And that would be a change for the better.

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One Response to “Rural Election Watch: Kentucky”

  1. [...] Rural Election Watch: Kentucky Bill Clinton, stumping for Lunsford last month (Hillary Clinton was in the state this past weekend), cited McConnell’s deep ties to Bush. [...]

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