Thursday, May 22, 2014

Roundup for May 22: Grimes mum on look-back Obamacare vote, calls for vets secretary to quit

Lots of news and commentary today:
  • Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes "twice refused to say whether she would have voted for President Barack Obama's signature health care law" as she kicked off her general-election campaign in Beattyville, Adam Beam reports for The Associated Press.
  • Grimes said in Beattyville that senators should bring jobs to the states they represent. The Beattyville Enterprise said Grimes was replying to the same question it asked Sen. Mitch McConnell April 18. Then, he said it was not his job, but a state responsibility.
  • Grimes and McConnell jumped into the biggest national controversy of the moment, the scandal in Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals. After McConnell gave a Senate floor speech saying President Obama should get as engaged as he was when the health-care website largely failed, Grimes called for Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign: "I don't see how that breach of trust with our veterans can be repaired if the current leadership stays in place." Monday, McConnell said "The management team needs to be changed."
  • Dana Bash of CNN reports that Senate control "may rest in the hands of women candidates," and "In no place is gender more at play than in Kentucky."
  • Executive Director Shae Hopkins tries to get KET in the mix for debates with a letter asking the candidates to consider "the only statewide broadcaster, accessible to all Kentuckians."
  • The Courier-Journal's Joe Gerth examines "key weaknesses" that the nominees need to address: Grimes in the state's two coalfields and McConnell among Tea Party voters.
  • Grimes gets three Pinocchios (out of four) from The Washington Post's Fact Checker for saying McConnell "quadrupled his net worth on the backs of hardworking Kentuckians." The wealth came from "money that his wife inherited," Glenn Kessler writes.
  • Post columnist E.J. Dionne steps back and takes an interesting overview of Kentucky and the race: "From the mountains to the gentle bluegrass, this normally civilized state was transformed Tuesday night into the staging ground for a merciless war over everything that has gone wrong in American politics during the past 5½ years." Worth a read.
  • A Post video introduces viewers to "the latest women to win their primaries and are vying to join the growing contingent of women in the Senate," including Grimes.
  • McConnell "faces his biggest test yet," writes the Post's "She the People" columnist Nia-Malika Henderson, saying Grimes uses "what might be called blue-collar feminism" with "a Southern swagger."
  • University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato writes, "Despite the results of recent polls, there are several reasons to be skeptical about Democrats’ chances of winning either the Kentucky or the Georgia seat in November. Kentucky hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992, and Barack Obama lost the state by 16 points in 2008 and 23 points in 2012." Sabato's Crystal Ball still rates the Kentucky outcome as "likely Republican."
  • Scott Wartman of The Kentucky (Cincinnati) Enquirer lists the top five surprises of the primary: no tea-party wave, Matt Bevin carried only two counties (Scott and Pendleton), Tea Party groups got on board Team Mitch; turnout in Northern Kentucky was low; and Grimes' vote nearly equaled Bevin's and McConnell's combined. The last two aren't really surprising.
  • Bevin "stopped short of saying he would vote for McConnell come November," notes Nick Storm of cn|2's "Pure Politics."
  • Dan McLaughlin writes on the Red State blog that Bevin's loss shows how the Tea Party needs more experienced candidates, not "political rookies." An editorial in The Wall Street Journal says Bevin and other Tea Party candidates lost primaries "because they were inferior candidates who differed little from their GOP opponents on policy but seemed less capable of winning in November."

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