Jason Zengerle takes a deep dive into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) re-election bid this week in a long, fascinating piece. It’s tough to summarize a 6,000-word article, but I would like to highlight one portion that stood out for me.
“No one likes McConnell. No Republicans even like McConnell,” says one Kentucky GOP strategist. “But McConnell makes you dislike the other person so much, you’re like, ‘Holy crap, there’s no way I can vote for that person!’”The most likely way McConnell will try to bring [challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes] down is by associating her with Obama, and already he has attacked her on Obamacare and the president’s “war on coal.” Linking a Kentucky Democrat to national Democrats is always a smart play in Kentucky, but linking one to Obama – who lost the state by nearly 23 points to GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 – is particularly potent.“We are still a racist state, I hate to admit it,” says the Kentucky GOP strategist.
It’s rare that we see this kind of candor from political professionals. It makes the remarks that much more powerful.
A prominent Kentucky Democrat added, “The only way they can beat [Grimes] is to paint her skin a different color than it is and make her gender a different gender than it is. They’re going to have to make her Barack Obama. If we’re talking about Mitch McConnell, he doesn’t win.”
McConnell has been an effective candidate for a long while, and he has a capable operation (even if some of his top aides don’t like him), so I don’t doubt he’ll be careful in how he frames his attacks.
But as McConnell’s offensive against Grimes intensifies, and the incumbent struggles to overcome his own unpopularity, it’s probably worth keeping this piece in mind.