Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says she hasn't made up her mind yet about whether she'll challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014, but she sure sounded like a candidate at a party fundraiser last night.
"My fellow Kentuckians, I ask you, based on tonight and in the coming months will we send a message that Kentucky is ready for new leadership in Washington, DC? Let me hear you say yes," Grimes said, according to video provided by Louisville's WHAS-TV. A series of similar-call-and-response questions about challenging McConnell were answered with a resounding "yes" and cheers from the assembled Democrats at the Jefferson County party's Wendell Ford Dinner last night.
Grimes called on the party to unite in order to put an end to "28 years of obstruction" in the U.S. Senate. (McConnell entered office in 1985).
A Grimes candidacy would be a huge boon for Democrats who have spent months seeking a challenger to McConnell, whom they believe to be one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans in the Senate, despite his $8.6 million war chest. Grimes is a solid fundraiser in her own right, but also has the Clinton family and Democrat fundraiser throughout the state, thanks to her father, former party chairman Jerry Lundergan. Bill Clinton reportedly personally encouraged her to run and promised to help.
Grimes was at the top of many Democrats' lists even before actress Ashley Judd decided not to run, and saw the young secretary of state as much more viable. She has already been elected statewide, winning her seat in 2011 with just over 60 percent of the vote -- slightly more, actually, than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney received in 2012.
McConnell and his allies have already gone on the attack, in an apparent attempt to prevent Grimes from jumping into the race, just as they did with Judd. In a likely preview of what's to come, a super PAC backing McConnell has been running full page ads in state newspapers tying her to President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Democrats have pushed harder in recent weeks to get Grimes to announce whether or not she'll challenge McConnell, arguing that she is freezing the field and other candidates will need time to weigh the race if she decides to take a pass. Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, who has been leading that charge, also attended last night's event where he said that McConnell's 2014 opponent was likely in the room with them. "I can be really brief tonight and just say 'Mitch McConnell sucks,'" he joked.