Chamber wades into Kentucky Senate race

The Chamber of Commerce is wading into the Kentucky Senate race with a new ad touting Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) support for the state's coal industry.

The ad reflects the fact that coal is already emerging as a main issue in one of this cycle's most hotly contested races, as Republicans work to paint Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes as anti-coal in a state where the industry makes up a large portion of the economy.

In the 30-second spot, a narrator calls McConnell "a fighter who never lets Kentucky down."

"Coal means jobs in Kentucky. While the EPA and bureaucrats try to kill Kentucky's coal industry, Mitch McConnell is fighting back, fighting hard," the narrator says.

The ad declares that McConnell is "working to block the EPA and shut down the bureaucrats," and "making sure our coal industry remains strong."

The ad is backed by a low six-figure buy and will run for a week and a half starting Tuesday.

McConnell has long fought the Environmental Protection Agency and has been an outspoken opponent of the proposed regulations on carbon emissions from new power plants, which critics say would squeeze the coal industry in Kentucky and elsewhere.

Republicans have sought to tie Grimes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and President Obama on coal at every turn, noting Reid's opposition to the fuel and comments that "coal makes us sick."

In response, Lundergan Grimes last week went on offense on coal, charging in an op-ed in a local paper that McConnell "has accomplished next to nothing for the coal industry."

"He talks the game, but the game he plays is about as dangerous for coal miners as a rotten mine timber," she wrote.

The Chamber's entry into the Kentucky Senate race also comes as McConnell has been leading the fight against a number of conservative groups that are engaging in elections in ways some Republicans worry will jeopardize the party's chances in 2014.

McConnell has criticized the groups, most prominently the Senate Conservatives Fund, and is working behind the scenes to help lessen their influence in primaries.

That feud has escalated as the Fund and other groups have backed McConnell's conservative primary challenger, Matt Bevin, and after a handful of conservatives in the House and Senate pushed the government into a shutdown in a failed bid to defund ObamaCare.

The Chamber indicated following the shutdown it would engage more heavily in elections this cycle to help beat back those conservative groups, and this new ad is the latest salvo in that ongoing war.