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Mitch McConnell's 20 Consultants Mitch McConnell's 20 Consultants

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Mitch McConnell's 20 Consultants

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011 (AP Photo/Daniel R. Patmore)

photo of Reid Wilson
July 17, 2013

Lest anyone feared Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn't taking his re-election bid seriously, his latest campaign finance report shows he's fully staffed up. In fact, McConnell looks like he's making his own personal effort to reduce the unemployment rate among political consultants.

McConnell's campaign made payments to 20 different consulting firms over the last three months, the filings show, including to nine different fundraisers, three separate media firms and two Republican web consulting outfits. He's hired some of the biggest Republican names in the business -- Harris Media, Metzner Media, FLS Connect and Engage LLC, to name a few -- in advance of what could be a difficult re-election bid against Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

And McConnell is sticking with Jan van Lohuizen, his longtime pollster at Washington- and Houston-based Voter/Consumer Research. McConnell endorsed former Secretary of State Trey Grayson over now-Sen. Rand Paul back in the 2010 Republican primary after seeing van Lohuizen polling that showed Grayson leading, which frustrated McConnell advisors.

McConnell and Grimes will show up at the same event for the first time on August 3 at Fancy Farm, the annual church picnic held annually at St. Jerome Catholic Church in Graves County. The event is a Kentucky political tradition where candidates make a point of lambasting their rivals. Both Republicans and Democrats routinely pack the event with boistrous supporters who try to rattle other candidates with jeers and catcalls. And sometimes it works: Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway got in trouble back in 2009 when he used the words "hell" and "son of a bitch" in his speech; he later apologized for the rough language.

Fancy Farm will be a big early test for Grimes, who so far hasn't held any public campaign events after announcing her candidacy earlier this month. Making Fancy Farm her first foray onto the campaign trail is a bit like learning to snorkel in Great White Shark-infested waters.

-- Sarah Mimms contributed to this report.

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