Phillip M. Bailey (KPR)

Kentucky Public Radio Correspondent

Philip Bailey is a reporter and political correspondent for Kentucky Public Radio based out of WFPL  in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Former President Bill Clinton and other high-profiled Democrats endorsed U.S. Senate Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes today, touting her efforts to rebuild the middle class.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is challenging leaders in eastern Kentucky to accept the decline of coal production and invest in a new economy to help pull the region out of poverty.

"A lot of leaders in Eastern Kentucky keep talking about ‘coal is the answer and there is a war on coal.’ I’m a friend of coal. I support the coal industry. But the coal industry’s future doesn't look bright and we have to look beyond that and learn to develop a new economy in Eastern Kentucky," he says.

Yesterday, WFPL News reported that Progress Kentucky, a liberal Super PAC, was behind the secret recording of a recent campaign strategy session between Senator Mitch McConnell and his re-election team.  The story has exploded, and it's the second time Progress Kentucky has drawn national headlines. And as Kentucky Public Radio's Gabe Bullard reports, neither incident has done the group any favors.

Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin is interested in taking on Republican Mitch McConnell in a primary election, but no final decision has been made.

Bevin is owner of the Connecticut-based Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, a bell-making company that has been in his family over 150 years. He is also an adviser to Waycross Partners, an investment firm in downtown Louisville.

In a statement sent to WFPL, Bevin spokeswoman Amy Lowe says the investor has met with "various individuals and groups" including Tea Party groups in Kentucky, who have voiced "frustration with their current representation."

From Bevin's spokeswoman:

These meetings, together with the recent reaction to the possibility of a primary race, have served to reaffirm the general sense of political disenchantment among many voters in Kentucky that has been widely reflected in recent articles and polls.

The Super PAC American Crossroads has released a stinging ad targeting actress-activist Ashley Judd, who is considering a bid against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

The digital spot portrays Judd as an out-of-touch Hollywood liberal and criticizes her for being a supporter of President Obama, living in Tennessee and progressive politics.


The ad is called "Ashley's Story" and cost the group $10,000.

The re-election campaign for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is dismissing a poll conducted by The Louisville Courier-Journal, which shows the GOP leader with just 17 percent support.

According to the survey, voters opposed to McConnell’s re-election outnumber supporters 2-to-1. It also found that only one-third of Republican voters support him in the 2014 election, adding further fuel to Tea Party criticism and outright defiance of McConnell's leadership in Kentucky.

McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton responded by saying no incumbent could fare well given the surveys line of questioning.

"The question itself minimizes the level of support for an incumbent by requiring a poll respondent to pledge their allegiance despite the prospect of an unnamed utopian candidate looming in the wings," said Benton.  "To make the bias even more pronounced than a generic 'someone else,' which is difficult enough, this question hardens that by asserting you must support him 'no matter who runs against him.'  So your neighbor, best friend, husband/wife, priest, pastor, reverend or rabbi wouldn’t get your vote if they were on the ballot.

A conservative group is attacking Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell over the fiscal cliff deal in a series of online advertisements in Kentucky that questions his loyalty to the GOP.

The ads were purchased by the Virginia-based group For America and began running Wednesday on the The Daily Caller, Drudge Report and Fox News websites, as well as on Facebook. It accuses McConnell of capitulating to President Obama and calls for conservatives to stand up to the party leader.

Brent Bozell is founder and chairman of For America. He says McConnell was the architect of a bad deal and that is playing "President Obama’s bag man."

"There comes a point where as a conservative you just say you’ve had it. This was a quintessential tax and spend piece of legislation," he says. "Conservatives have for decades labeled Democrats the party of tax and spend. How can you not label Republicans the same thing when they go along with it?"

McConnell fashioned the agreement with Vice President Joe Biden, which permanently extended the Bush-era tax rates for individuals making less than $400,000 and was praised by many conservative thinkers.

However, the deal delayed government spending cuts for another two months.

Kentucky Tea Party leaders are voicing frustration with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell over his role in forging a bill that averted the fiscal cliff, and are encouraging a primary challenge in his re-election bid.

In the final days of negotiations, McConnell worked closely with Vice President Joe Biden to fashion an agreement that passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support. The Biden-McConnell bill extended the Bush-era tax cuts permanently for individuals making less than $400,000, but it delayed government spending cuts for another two months. 

Louisville Tea Party President Sarah Durand says rank and file members  were already displeased with McConnell’s record on fiscal issues, and are furious over the latest development.

The campaign to re-elect Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell leaked an internal poll showing him with a far better approval rating than the Public Policy Polling survey released earlier this month.

Earlier this month, PPP showed Kentucky's senior Senator is the most unpopular Senator in the country with a dismal 37 percent approval rating and a 55 percent disapproval.

But McConnell's re-election campaign has him at 51 percent approval and only 40 percent disapproving.

What's interesting is that both the PPP and McConnell numbers show the GOP leader ahead of Democratic activist and actress Ashley Judd—the most popular choice for Kentucky Democrats—by just a four-point margin.

Owensboro Democrat Ed Marksberry is running in the 2014 Kentucky race for U.S. Senate.

Marksberry is a building contractor and former congressional candidate, who ran unsuccessfully against Republican Congressman Brett Guthrie two years ago. He lost that race by 35 points.