Close Senate race ahead in November


Cheyene Miller Contributing Columnist

Cheyene Miller
Contributing Columnist

The 2014 Senate elections are considered crucial for American politics, with many predicting that Republicans will keep control of the House, while gaining control of the Senate.

Republicans plan to focus their attacks heavily on Democrats in the Senate who backed the troubled “Obamacare” law in order to uproot them from power in over a dozen states.

In an already gridlocked national government, this could really cause headaches for our Democratic president.

One Republican that could potentially lose his seat in the Senate is Kentucky’s very own Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader since 2007. McConnell was first elected as a Kentucky senator in 1984 and has won every election since by a fairly wide margin.

This will not be the case this time around if the early numbers are any indication, as recent public opinion polls have Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes narrowly ahead of McConnell. More specifically, RealClearPolitics has Grimes ahead of McConnell by half a percentage point.

This truly is the first time in a while that McConnell has had to worry about losing his job to a Democrat. Harvey Sloane gave him a moderately close race in 1990, only losing to McConnell by a slight margin.

McConnell then defeated Gov. Steve Beshear in 1996 with 55 percent of the vote, Lois Weinberg in 2002 with 65 percent of the vote and Bruce Lunsford in 2008 with 53 percent of the vote.

In America, representatives and senators typically have a job approval rating of around 10 to 15 percent, yet have a re-election rate of about 90 percent.

Regardless, there is something about Grimes that obviously has Kentucky voters interested. Grimes is young and is the daughter of Jerry Lundergan, former Kentucky Democratic chairman and state representative. To top it all off, she was recently given support from former President Bill Clinton.

She has also only been in office since 2012. The downside to this is that she is relatively inexperienced, but the upside is she has not had years to rack up points of criticism and political mistakes worthy of attention as McConnell has.

Such a mistake happened just a few weeks ago, when an ad endorsing McConnell tried to play off the successful history of UK basketball. Only the footage featured in the video was of Duke University players, not UK players.

While this is hardly a Watergate-level political scandal, a more serious scandal came late last year, when it was discovered that since 2011, McConnell had received over $75,000 in political contributions from UnitedHealth Group, which owns the technology company responsible for the website that enrolls people in “Obamacare,” a law of which McConnell has been critical.

All of this put together has given McConnell the image of a stereotypically corrupt Washington, D.C. politician and has aided in adding to Grimes’ popularity.

Controversy aside, McConnell is a veteran politician and should never be counted out of the fight. This race looks like it will go down to the wire as of now, and Kentucky voters will have a huge decision to make when November arrives.

Cheyene Miller is a journalism and political science sophomore.