Wednesday, November 5, 2014

McConnell wins by 15.47 percent of the vote

By Cheyene Miller
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell was elected to his sixth term Tuesday night, defeating Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes with 56.2 percent of the vote in unofficial returns. Grimes got 40.7 percent and Libertarian David Patterson 3.1 percent.

With this victory, and Republicans’ defeat of Democrats in some other Senate races, McConnell is now in place to become the new Senate majority leader, replacing Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

In his victory speech in Louisville, McConnell thanked voters for their support, telling them their calls for help will be heard in Washington.

“They’ve put their trust and confidence in me for a long time,” McConnell said. “And I want to thank them tonight.”

McConnell had been urging voters in recent weeks to make him the “offensive coordinator of the U.S. Senate,” saying that as minority leader he had been “defensive coordinator.” 

“Tonight Kentuckians said we can do better as a nation,” McConnell said.  “Tonight they said we can have real chance in Washington, and that’s just what I intend to deliver.”

Sen. Rand Paul spoke at the event, calling the victory a “repudiation of President Obama’s policies.” Even before the decisive Senate races were called, Paul called McConnell a defender of Kentucky coal, Kentucky jobs and the “next majority leader of the United States Senate.”

“Tonight we’ve witnessed a great victory for Kentucky, and for the country,” Paul said.

McConnell became the Republican nominee in May after defeating Tea Party-backed businessman Matt Bevin, and since then focused his campaign on linking Kentucky Secretary of State Grimes to President Barack Obama.

This tactic gained steam, particularly after Grimes continuously refused to answer whether she voted for Obama though she had been an Obama delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

During the race, McConnell put much of his focus on coal, criticizing the environmental policies of the Obama administration. 

McConnell also said during his campaign that he wants to lead a “root and branch” repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while maintaining that Kentucky could keep its online health insurance marketplace Kynect.

McConnell opposed Grimes’s call for a raise in the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour and $2.13 an hour for tipped workers.

McConnell and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, complimented Grimes and her campaign.

“She should be commended for putting herself forward, and giving the people of Kentucky a real choice,” Chao said.

McConnell said, “She earned a lot of votes, and she earned my respect. It took a lot of guts to take on a race like this. Because of the business we’re in, it also meant she’d take some heat. I admire her willingness to step into the arena and fight as hard as she did. We need more people who are willing to do that, not fewer. She deserves a lot of credit for it. This was a hard-fought contest. ”

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