2014 U.S. Senate Race

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Republican Matt Bevin has hired a national communications director to work on his U.S. Senate campaign.

Bevin announced yesterday the hiring of Rachel Semmel, an Indiana native who has worked for three Republican congressmen over nearly six years in Washington.

Bevin’s a Louisville businessman who is challenging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in next year's Republican primary.

Calling the looming government shutdown a "reckless Republican" strategy, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is accusing incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of watching from the sidelines.

The budget impasse in Washington is expected to continue when the Democratic-controlled Senate rejects a House measure this afternoon.

If a deal isn't reached the federal government will close on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m.

At issue is implementation of President Obama's health care law, which Republican want to delay for one year. But that is considered a non-starter in the Senate and for the Obama administration.

In the meantime, the Grimes campaign is going on the offensive against McConnell by highlighting how a shutdown would impact Kentucky.

The news release points out a shutdown would close centers for 16,000 children who attend Head Start, delay payments for U.S. military service members and furlough 25,000 federal employees in the state.

Grimes says McConnell needs to be more involved in the negotiations while reminding supporters about the GOP leadership's split with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell cut ties with Sen. Ted Cruz's threat to use a filibuster against a bill with language defunding the president's health care law.

Facing increasing criticism from conservative groups and a primary opponent, McConnell argued Senate Democrats need to join the effort in order to take out funding for Obamacare while avoiding a government shutdown.

"I just don’t happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare," McConnell said. "All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded. And none of us want that."

The House passed a spending measure to fund the federal government past Oct. 1, but it does not pay for the Affordable Care Act.

Cruz is urging the GOP caucus to vote against that legislation because Democrats have indicated they will amend it to restore the health care law's funding. He argues any vote to bring the bill to the Senate floor is in effective supporting Obamacare as a whole.

Rather than focus on GOP infighting, McConnell proposed Democrats ought to join the effort to defund the law by having a simple majority vote on the House bill.

"Democrats have been hearing the same complaints about Obamacare the rest of us have. The spotlight should really be on them. This is a rare opportunity to defund the law with a simple majority. We should have that vote," he said.

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Democratic long-shot Ed Marksberry has decided to drop his bid for his party’s nomination and run as an independent for US Senate next year.

The Owensboro contractor said today he believes Kentucky needs an independent candidate who is not beholden to party leaders. Marksberry said his candidacy has been less about winning and more about influencing the political conversation, something he feels he can better achieve as an independent.  

The pro-coal message of Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes was complicated by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on Thursday, who blocked a bill introduced by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to ease federal regulations.

Reid's actions comes just days after Grimes called on the Obama administration to hold off on new environmental restrictions.

Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell asked for unanimous consent on his  "Saving Coal Jobs Act" to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing carbon emission standards for power plants.

"The EPA has already stifled the permitting process for new coal mines; the agency has done this so dramatically that they have effectively shut down many coal mines through illegitimate, dilatory tactics," McConnell said. "The EPA’s actions ignore the thousands of people in my home state of Kentucky who depend on the coal industry for their livelihoods."

Reid quickly objected to delay the bill while promising to hold a vote at a later date despite McConnell's urgency that the measure is needed now ahead of new EPA emission standards this week.

A coal industry leader had already raised doubts about Grimes being a more effective voice for Kentucky coal operators and miners than McConnell. But Reid's maneuvering raises further questions about whether Grimes can stand up to the Democratic leader while relying on him politically to unseat McConnell.

"Alison isn't afraid to stand up to members of either party," a Grimes campaign aide told WFPL. "She will stand up for Kentucky as its next U.S. Senator. When she is in the Senate she will get things done on behalf of Kentucky's working families. Today just underscores McConnell's weakness and ineffectiveness. His influence isn't working and he's unable to deliver for the people of Kentucky."

Saying she is proud to have been attacked by Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign, Louisville Tea Party President Wendy Caswell is endorsing Republican Matt Bevin in Kentucky's U.S. Senate primary race.

The nod from Caswell is a key pickup for the Bevin campaign that comes weeks after two prominent tea party activists in Louisville backed McConnell in next year's GOP primary.

In a Courier-Journal op-ed, Caswell says McConnell is more concerned with increasing his own political power than conservative principles.

"Sen. Mitch McConnell represents the old guard in Washington D.C. that cares more about holding on to power than defending the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and individual freedom. Those are the principles that Matt Bevin believes in. I know he believes in those fundamental conservative ideals because he has embodied them in his life's experiences," she says.

The endorsement from Caswell was likely helped by a web video attacking the activist.

A conservative group is launching its first radio ad in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race criticizing Republican Senator Mitch McConnell for his voting record.

Led by former Republican Congressman Jim Ryun, the Madison Project endorsed McConnell’s GOP primary opponent Matt Bevin last month, and is running what they say will be the first of many statewide ads against the incumbent.

It's a relatively small $30,000 ad buy, but the 60-second spot slams McConnell’s votes on immigration reform, Wall Street bailouts and the debt ceiling.

Listen:

Daniel Horowitz is the policy director of The Madison Project. He says the Kentucky Senate race is about McConnell’s leadership and a larger debate about the GOP at-large.

"We want to have a long-form discussion both about McConnell’s record in Kentucky and also really a discussion over the future of the Republican Party. Is this going to be the party of Reagan, Cruz and DeMint or is this the party of Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell? And it’s about time we had this fight over the future of the party," he says.

The campaign to re-elect Republican Senator Mitch McConnell launched a stinging attack ad against primary challenger Matt Bevin over his claims of educational ties to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In the 30-second spot, McConnell's campaign highlights reports from The Hill earlier this year about the Louisville businessman's LinkedIn page.

In March, Bevin had listed MIT under his education profile based his attendance at an entrepreneurial program on the MIT campus.

Critics argued Bevin was misleading people that he was either a MIT graduate or graduated from a MIT affiliated program.

Bevin later revised his social networking page after school officials told The Hill it was a three-week seminar with no formal link to the school.

Watch:

A pair of Tea Party groups are increasing their pressure on Sen. Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus to de-fund President Obama's health care at all costs.

Recently, McConnell questioned that strategy and said a government shutdown would not halt the Affordable Care Act's implementation.

The Washington Post's Aaron Blake reports Tea Party Patriots and For America are targeting McConnell's caucus in a series of online advertisements in the hopes of gaining traction.

For America has already put out an ad essentially calling McConnell a "chicken" for not being more supportive.

Watch:

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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is reaching out to senior voters with an initiative she's dubbed "Grannies for Grimes."

Grimes' 83-year-old grandmother, Elsie Case, will lead the effort. Case has appeared in campaign ads on behalf of her granddaughter and has been a regular at campaign appearances.

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