Monday, June 2, 2014

Obama EPA's proposed new rules for CO2 put Grimes on defensive; she says he's attacking Ky. coal industry

Coal was already a big issue in the Senate race, and it got bigger today with the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal of regulations to limit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from coal-fired power plants, part of President Obama's campaign against climate change.

Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader set the stage for the 10 a.m. release of the proposal with a story saying "Grimes has endeavored to convince voters she is a pro-coal Democrat, using the issue to put space between her and an unpopular president from the same party who has been routinely vilified in Kentucky for his 'war on coal.' . . . But as McConnell works overtime to try to tie Grimes to Obama in voters' minds, he is using coal and Grimes' fundraising connections to send the message that a vote for Grimes is a vote for [Senate Democratic Leader Harry] Reid, Obama and a death sentence for the coal industry."

Starting Tuesday, the "super PAC" Kentuckians for Strong Leadership will start a radio commercial "among the most direct in tying Grimes to Reid and Obama, saying Grimes is raising 'big bucks' with Reid and 'was a Barack Obama delegate, supporting him even after he declared war on our coal communities'," Youngman reports. "Grimes' planned fundraiser with Reid [on Wednesday] gives Republicans added ammunition." Youngman starts his story with a description of this pro-coal ad McConnell ran in his primary campaign:

McConnell's Senate office issued a 385-word statement saying the plan had "no clear benefit" and calling it "a dagger in the heart of the American middle class, and to representative democracy itself." He said liberals are "helping their political supporters in states like California and New York while inflicting acute pain on states like Kentucky." He said he would introduce legislation to block the plan. His campaign office said Obama, Reid and liberals who "know that a vote for her is a vote to ensure further implementation of their anti-coal agenda in the U.S. Senate."

A few minutes later, Grimes issued this 61-word statement: "President Obama's new EPA rule is more proof that Washington isn't working for Kentucky. Coal keeps the lights on in the commonwealth, providing a way for thousands of Kentuckians to put food on their tables. When I'm in the U.S. Senate, I will fiercely oppose the president's attack on Kentucky's coal industry because protecting our jobs will be my number-one priority."

Grimes newspaper ad
At mid-afternoon, the Grimes campaign announced that it would start a "multifaceted coal country campaign," including newspaper advertising in the state's two coalfields. "In the U.S. Senate, Alison will work with members of both parties and fight for federal investment in clean coal technology that can help save and create coal jobs.

Obama's proposal shines "spotlight on a growing division within the Democratic Party: On one side are major donors, who take a particular interest in environmental causes and are becoming increasingly important to the party. On the other are candidates from energy-producing states — where regulations on coal-fired power plants could have the most detrimental effects — whose fates will decide control of the Senate," writes Reid Wilson of The Washington Post.

Wilson quotes Democratic consultant Jim Cauley, a Pikeville native who managed Obama's 2004 Senate race and has worked for Gov. Steve Beshear: “If I were running, I would get the governor to sue and try to tie it up in the courts. Coal has just become the cultural litmus test as to whose side you are on.” (Read more)

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