McConnell Ramps Up Re-Election Bid

Thursday, 28 Mar 2013 12:25 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is pulling out all the stops in a bid to keep his seat in next year’s midterm elections, already airing TV and radio ads 20 months ahead of time and vowing to make pre-emptive strikes at possible challengers.

The Kentucky Republican, a key target for Democrats as the party tries to keep control of the upper chamber in 2014, told Politico this week he will use “every penny” of cash reserves expected to surpass the $21 million he spent in 2008.

“My view is if you’re going to be a bigger target, you’re going to adopt different tactics,” McConnell said, adding, “I think we’ve made it pretty clear … that we intend to be very aggressive from Day One. And we are. And that involves not ignoring any potential opponent.”

Actress Ashley Judd had been considered a likely contender until she announced on Wednesday that she would not make a bid for the Democratic nomination, writing on her Twitter page, “After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family.”

She and husband Dario Franchitti split in January after 11 years of marriage.

Democrats could now rally around Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s 34-year-old secretary of state, who already has the backing of former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, although Grimes has not yet announced her intentions.

Like many GOP incumbents, five-term incumbent McConnell also faces a potential threat from the right, but according to Politico he has moved to lock down support from almost every Republican legislator in Kentucky,

Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is launching its first statewide campaign ad against McConnell on Thursday, airing a radio spot that sounds like a sports announcer calling a big game and that blasts him for playing for “Team Washington.”

“It’s tournament time and Sen. McConnell’s playing for the Washington special interests – against Kentucky,” the ad says. “Kentucky is trying to move up, trying to provide assistance for workers who lost their jobs and they’re blocked by McConnell, who scored big for himself for nearly 30 years.”

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