Lundergan Grimes gets fundraising boost in Kentucky Senate race

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) is getting a big fundraising boost from a leading Senate Democrat, upping the ante in her bid to knock off Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2014.

Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and his wife are hosting a fundraising reception for Lundergan Grimes at the home of former Colorado state Treasurer Cary Kennedy this Sunday, according to an email from Bennet’s campaign obtained exclusively by The Hill.

Tickets for the event range from $250 to $5,200, and both Bennet and Lundergan Grimes will attend.

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“Michael and I are proud to support Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate who are ready to work hard and bring common sense solutions to Washington, D.C.” Bennet’s wife, Susan Daggett, writes in the email.

She calls Lundergan Grimes “as exciting a candidate as Kentucky has seen in years.”

The fundraiser will aid Lundergan Grimes as she tries to keep pace with McConnell on fundraising for the Kentucky race. In the third quarter, her first three months in the race, she slightly outraised McConnell, bringing in $2.5 million to his $2.3 million.

The incumbent still has considerably more money in the bank than Lundergan Grimes, however, with $10 million cash on hand to her $2 million.

She has already received help from a number of big-name Democrats and Democratic donors, including Hollywood mega-donor Jeffrey Katzenberg and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.).

But Reid’s fundraiser opened Lundergan Grimes up to attacks from conservatives who focused on the senator’s opposition to coal, which he has said makes Americans sick.

Coal production is a critical part of Kentucky’s economy.

Republicans charged that Lundergan Grimes’s alliance with Reid was an indication she wouldn’t stand up for Kentucky coal miners, and would instead would be beholden to Democratic leaders if she is elected to the Senate.

Bennet’s fundraiser could be another double-edged sword for Lundergan Grimes.

Kelsey Cooper, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Republican Party, pounced on the fundraiser, calling it “embarrassing” that Lundergan Grimes would be in Colorado when she’s been receiving scrutiny for local media for being absent from the campaign trail in Kentucky.

“It’s pretty embarrassing that Alison Lundergan Grimes is choosing to fundraise with more of Harry Reid’s liberal Washington establishment pals rather than spend time in Kentucky talking about the issues, especially at a time when Kentuckians are literally waiting for her to give them something other than the broad platitudes she’s offered up so far,” she said.

“Perhaps it’s because she’s just not ready to come clean with Kentuckians about fully supporting the liberal Harry Reid and Barack Obama agenda.”

Although it’s imperative Lundergan Grimes accelerate her fundraising pace for a race that is expected to break spending records, the fundraiser might give Republicans another opportunity to tie Lundergan Grimes to national Democrats, who remain unpopular in the Bluegrass State.

--This piece has been corrected to reflect the spokesperson for the Kentucky GOP.