Meet Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State and the woman who might just be able to boot Sen. Mitch McConnell from his Senate seat after 30 years.
A new poll released Tuesday found Grimes, 34, tied with McConnell in a hypothetical match-up, with both earning 45% of the vote, according to the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling.
McConnell’s popularity has been low for weeks—in the latest survey, just 44% of voters said they approve of McConnell, while 47% disapprove—and the survey said he’s becoming increasingly more vulnerable to a challenge. McConnell is in “the weakest position PPP has found him in yet,” firm Director Tom Jensen wrote. PPP had found McConnell leading Grimes in two previous polls, but his lead is dissipating despite early advertising.
Grimes, an attorney, was elected to be Kentucky’s Secretary of State in 2011.
She’s well-connected and popular: in 2011, she defeated a candidate hand-picked by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear in the primary, and her father, Jerry Lundergan, is the former Democratic party chairman and a big player in union politics in the state.
Lundergan helped former President Bill Clinton carry the state in two presidential elections, according to Politico, and the two have remained close: Clinton reportedly met with Grimes in March, promising his support and encouraging her to run.
In April, Grimes met with Beshear about a potential run, but has remained publicly undecided. A political consultant close to Grimes told local radio network WFPL that a decision could come as early as the end of May. “We know McConnell is vulnerable, but is he beatable? And what people who have run for this race have suggested is she get everything in line. And if Alison’s going to get in she’s going to make sure she has the support it takes,” the unnamed source told the station.
Grimes has pushed back against constant questions on her candidacy, saying she “won’t be bullied into any decision.”
But while Grimes decides her political future, McConnell is building a fierce reelection machine.
He’s already raising $13.5 million for his sixth campaign. Advertising and online campaigning has begun in earnest, fueled by a surprising social media strategy that helped push one YouTube ad to more than a million views. He’s so far avoided a serious primary challenge from the right, and is focusing his efforts on campaigning against Grimes and other past and present Democratic challengers, rumored or real, as “Obama’s Kentucky candidate.”