Republicans Forcing Lundergan Grimes To Choose Between Her Donors And Voters

McConnell’s campaign believes she’s vulnerable on energy issues in Kentucky.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announces she will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014, during an afternoon news conference in Frankfort, Kentucky, July 1, 2013. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)
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Andrea Drusch
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Andrea Drusch
May 2, 2014, 1 a.m.

Ken­tucky Re­pub­lic­ans want Al­is­on Lun­der­gan Grimes to choose between the lib­er­al donors she met with in Chica­go this week and the state’s coal in­dustry that she has cam­paigned on sup­port­ing.

The Demo­crat­ic chal­lenger to Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell at­ten­ded a meet­ing of the coun­try’s biggest Demo­crat­ic donors at the Demo­cracy Al­li­ance meet­ing this week, but nev­er spoke to the man who has pledged to spend mil­lions for Demo­crats in the midterm elec­tions—en­vir­on­ment­al­ist bil­lion­aire Tom Stey­er. The Ken­tucky Coal As­so­ci­ation had already cau­tioned the pro-coal Grimes that ac­cept­ing money from Stey­er would po­s­i­tion her against the in­dustry.

Grimes walks a thin line between her en­vir­on­ment­al­ist sup­port­ers (which does not cur­rently in­clude Stey­er) and the en­ergy in­dustry in her state, which she has sup­por­ted throughout her cam­paign. After de­clin­ing to take a po­s­i­tion for much of her cam­paign, she be­latedly came out in fa­vor of the Key­stone XL pipeline last week. Re­pub­lic­ans in­sist she can’t have it both ways, and they think the coal in­dustry’s timely warn­ing has giv­en them the fuel they need to take it to the voters.

“If Al­is­on Lun­der­gan Grimes ac­cepts aid and fin­an­cial sup­port from Tom Stey­er, or any anti-coal group, Re­pub­lic­ans will ab­so­lutely use any and all means to edu­cate our fel­low cit­izens about her hy­po­crisy,” said Ken­tucky Re­pub­lic­an spokes­wo­man Kel­sey Cooper.

Some Re­pub­lic­ans in the state say they plan to hold her ac­count­able not only for any money she might ac­cept from him, but any in­dir­ect in­volve­ment in the state by his PAC, and money from the DSCC, which Stey­er helped raise. And they’ll take to the air to do it.

Asked wheth­er Grimes would be ac­cept­ing money from Stey­er, her spokes­wo­man Charly Norton de­murred, say­ing “we will con­tin­ue to rely on the 45,000 grass­roots con­trib­ut­ors that make up the heart of our cam­paign.”

Grimes’s cam­paign also points out that Mc­Con­nell has re­ceived more than $100,000 from Nex­tEra En­ergy, a coal-com­pet­ing re­new­able en­ergy com­pany.

It’s cer­tainly not Re­pub­lic­ans’ first at­tempt to tie Grimes to her donors — they’ve hit her on Hol­ly­wood dona­tions, and dona­tions from state law­makers who were ac­cused of sexu­al har­ass­ment — but in Stey­er they think she’s guilty of blatant guilt by as­so­ci­ation.

Re­pub­lic­ans across the coun­try are eager to com­pare the lib­er­al bil­lion­aire to the Koch broth­ers, and tie Demo­crats who re­ceive his money to be­ing anti-coal or oil. In Col­or­ado, the con­ser­vat­ive group Amer­ic­an Com­mit­ment has run ads ac­cus­ing Sen. Mark Ud­all (D) of be­ing bought off by Stey­er and his cli­mate change agenda. Ken­tucky’s Re­pub­lic­an Party is threat­en­ing a sim­il­ar fate for Grimes if she ac­cepts his money.

Grimes hasn’t had any trouble fun­drais­ing. She brought in a $2.7 mil­lion haul this quarter and out­raised Mc­Con­nell in two of the last three fun­drais­ing quar­ters.

COR­REC­TION: Lun­der­gan Grimes out­raised Mc­Con­nell in two of the last three fun­drais­ing quar­ters, not the last two quar­ters.

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