Lundergan Grimes unveils jobs plan

Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes laid out a jobs plan for Kentucky with a speech Thursday night that sought to draw contrast between her vision for Kentucky and what she characterized as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s lack thereof.

"Faced with hardship, it is Sen. McConnell who has failed Kentucky," Grimes said at one point in her speech.

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Speaking to a friendly crowd in eastern Kentucky — a politically weighted locale, as the region’s economy has suffered in recent years partly due to a decline in the coal industry, which McConnell has tried to hang around Lundergan Grimes’s neck — the Democrat slammed McConnell for not doing enough for the state while characterizing herself as a champion for its hardest hit.

“Kentucky families deserve better — good paying jobs and a good quality of life,” she said. “Unlike Mitch McConnell’s failed agenda, my forward-looking plan for Kentucky will help increase family incomes and encourage businesses to grow and create new jobs, prepare and train Kentuckians for the jobs of the future, and increase Kentucky’s global competitiveness.”

Lundergan Grimes’s plan includes some typical Democratic policies — she supports raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, better access to childcare and expanded early childhood education — as well as some Kentucky-centric proposals.

She emphasized the need for a “meaningful long-term place for coal” and said the government should invest in worker training in areas “disproportionately” affected by federal energy policies, notably coal-rich areas that might be impacted by Environmental Protection Agency regulations, like eastern Kentucky.

Lundergan Grimes’s emphasis on defending the coal industry comes, as she’s facing yet another attack from Republicans focused on coal. A new radio ad from pro-McConnell super-PAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership hammered Lundergan Grimes for “raising big bucks with the most anti-coal politicians and activists in America” during her last fundraising swing through California.

“What is Alison Grimes promising them behind closed doors? Why are anti-coal liberals giving her campaign big bucks?” the ad asks.

Republicans see President Obama’s environmental policies and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) criticism of coal as politically toxic for Lundergan Grimes, as the coal industry makes up a significant part of Kentucky’s economy, and accounts for a significant portion of the unemployed in the state.

Allison Moore, McConnell’s campaign spokesman, hammered that theme in a statement countering the speech.

“Alison Lundergan Grimes’s entire campaign from the day she was recruited by Harry ‘coal makes us sick’ Reid has been supported by anti-coal activists who have shown nothing but disdain for eastern Kentucky,” she said. “Mitch McConnell is a tireless advocate for the region, who fights every day to ensure that the same Washington liberals who are supporting Alison’s candidacy aren’t able to continue to prosecute their war on coal.”

Lundergan Grimes was accompanied by a strong showing of Democratic support, with Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, former Democratic Gov. Martha Layne Collins and others speaking at the event.

Kentucky Republicans took issue with comments Stumbo made, in which he compared the liberation of European nations from Nazi control following World War II to what Democratic voters could achieve if they vote Lundergan Grimes into office in November.

"Greg Stumbo's comment comparing Sen. McConnell to the Nazis is not only appalling but also completely inappropriate, and that kind of hateful rhetoric has no place in public discourse in our beloved Commonwealth,” said Kentucky GOP spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper. “Greg Stumbo needs to immediately apologize for his disrespectful remarks, and Alison Lundergan Grimes owes a heartfelt apology to all of the Kentuckians that had to listen to his hate-filled comparisons during her event."