Grimes Faces Political Dilemma in Response to McConnell's Debate Challenge

May 22, 2014

Credit Kentucky Secretary of State/U.S. Senate

Just two days into general election season, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is facing a political dilemma regarding a proposed series of Lincoln-Douglas debates with Republican incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Grimes’ campaign manager Jonathan Hurst responded Wednesday to McConnell's challenge, essentially assuring that a proper response would be issued “in the coming days.”

The debates McConnell has proposed would feature no live audience, notes or props. The debates would be moderated by a single timekeeper.

“She’s really on the horns of dilemma right now," said Ernest Yanarella, the chair of the University of Kentucky's department of political science. "She is the younger and the greener of the two candidates, obviously, and she is, I’m sure, fully aware of Mitch McConnell’s debating skills. In a perfect world, I think she would prefer not to participate in a string of debates.”

On the other hand, Yanarella said if the debates go through, McConnell might have a hard time demonstrating his superiority to Grimes without alienating women voters.

Pending Grimes’ approval, McConnell has accepted Louisville's Fox affiliate TV station WDRB’s offer to host the televised debates, with a tentative date of June 21 for the first debate. Kentucky Educational Television CEO Shae Hopkins has sent both candidates letters expressing KET's desire to broadcast a televised forum.