For months, Kentuckians have been preparing for the November elections. And the election most obnoxiously shoved in our faces is the race for U.S. Senate.
In one corner stands Mitch McConnell, who, in his 30th year as Kentucky senator, serves as the Senate minority leader and has gained his fair share of notoriety in both Washington and Kentucky.
In the other corner stands newcomer Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state. Grimes is attempting to break the Republican’s grip on the Commonwealth’s two seats in the U.S. Senate.
After the past few months of seemingly non-stop advertising, if you aren’t aware of these two names, you must live under a rock. The two have aggressively attacked one another via television, radio and the internet. It’s not unusual to see a Grimes commercial, followed by a McConnell commercial, followed by another Grimes commercial, then wrapped up with another McConnell commercial before returning to your program. It wouldn’t be so excruciating if the general message of these ads weren’t consistently “[insert name of senator] is a Kentucky backstabber and this is why.”
The climax of the 2014 campaign season occurred Monday when the two met for the first time in a live debate on public television. You would think the candidates would take the opportunity to give Kentuckians a firsthand glimpse for voters of what they represent. But that was not the case. Instead, they both attacked each other as aggressively in person as they do through their ads. Grimes refused to answer McConnell’s persistence in whether she voted for Obama, and McConnell shied away from Grimes’ pressing as to whether he believes climate change is real. Both candidates were rude, and both clearly showed nothing that makes me want to believe in either of them.
The odd thing is that, outside of hating each other, McConnell and Grimes actually do have platforms.
McConnell is generally anti-everything concerning Obama. He is a leader in the fight against Obamacare and what McConnell calls the president’s “war on coal.” Like the true conservative he is, McConnell is a supporter of protecting the Second Amendment, the coal industry and tobacco farmers. And much of the legislation he has worked on deals with these issues. The advantage he has over Grimes is his name and experience, having represented the state for more than 30 years. Such a long term in office could also be perceived as his weakness, as some Kentuckians are ready for a change in leadership.
Grimes would be a newcomer to the U.S. Senate, but not to Kentucky politics. Serving in her current position as Kentucky’s secretary of state, she has focused on opening doors for small business owners. She has also worked to protect voting rights of domestic violence victims, absentee voters and soldiers. Her advantage is she represents the Democrats’ strongest challenge to McConnell in years, and she’s been a fixture in Kentucky over the past few years. Her disadvantage is she’s a relative newcomer, particularly when going up against someone like McConnell, who’s had a national presence for decades.
It would be incredibly wise to do some background research before voting this November. Both candidates could possibly have some positive attributes. But they have various downsides as well (just watch the ads). When you step into the voting booth on Nov. 4, don’t vote solely based on party or who has the least annoying ads; be sure to choose the candidate who is best for Kentucky.