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2014 Kentucky Senate Election Guide

Posted by Brian Neese on October 01, 2014  /   Posted in Political Science News

Voting Booths

To date, the 2014 Kentucky Senate election appears as if it’ll come down to the final vote, and ABC News predicts this race “will be the most watched 2014 contest of them all.”

Take a look at the candidates, the election overview and get the information you need to vote on Nov. 4 when the general election takes place.

The Candidates

Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell

Incumbent, Republican

Mitch McConnell is the current Senate minority leader. First elected to the Senate in 1984, McConnell is running for re-election to a sixth term.

Prior to serving in the Senate, McConnell was the deputy assistant U.S. attorney for the Office of Legislative Affairs from 1974 to 1975. He then worked as judge-executive of Jefferson County, Kentucky from 1979 to 1985.

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Alison Lundergan Grimes

Challenger, Democrat

Alison Lundergan Grimes is the current Kentucky secretary of state. First winning election in 2011, Grimes is the youngest woman serving as secretary of state in the U.S., and the only woman who currently holds a statewide office in Kentucky.

Prior to her election, Grimes worked at the law firm Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC in the business litigation group. Additionally, Grimes served for two years as president of the Women Lawyers’ Association of the Fayette County Bar.

Election Overview

According to Leigh Ann Caldwell of CNN, it’s “the race with the most at stake.” Known as one of the most critical races in the country, the 2014 Kentucky Senate election has a fair share of storylines.

One of those storylines is Grimes’ attempt to capitalize on McConnell’s low approval ratings. As Daniel Strauss reported in February, McConnell’s job approval rating was 32 percent; 60 percent disapproved of the top Senate Republican. These numbers were similar to Obama’s approval rating — 34 percent with a disapproval rate of 60 percent.

Current estimates, such as those from the Huffpost Pollster aggregate poll-tracking model, illustrate that the two candidates are nip and tuck.

Key Issues

According to Frank James of National Public Radio (NPR), the election between McConnell and Grimes “looks like it’s going to be punishing.” Here’s how he breaks down some of the key issues that are at the forefront of the election:

  • Coal: With coal being a big driver of Kentucky’s economy, particularly in the eastern region of the state, candidates are looking to protect coal’s interest despite its alleged decline over the years.
  • Women’s Issues: Grimes is concentrating on equal pay and higher minimum wage, as well as McConnell’s vote against renewing the Violence Against Women Act. James notes that McConnell has had his wife and other women on stage alongside him in order to emphasize how important women have been to him in his life.
  • Healthcare Reform: According to an NBC/Marist poll, 57 percent of registered voters in Kentucky viewed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) negatively. But, the fact that the same poll found that 29 percent of voters favored democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s Kynect health exchange (compared to the 21 percent opposed it) could help counter Republicans.

These issues will play a central part in deciding the election. It’s important to note that, according to the latest figures from OpenSecrets.org, McConnell has raised more than $23 million for the campaign, doubling Grimes’ budget. McConnell’s fundraising ability could end up being a decisive player in the election.

Voting Details

You must register to vote by Oct. 6 to vote in the 2014 Kentucky Senate election. In order to vote, you can visit the Kentucky State Board of Elections for more information.

Polling hours will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2014. You can look at the Kentucky State Board of Elections page for information on precinct location and legislative districts. Alternatively, Vote411.org has voting location information that you can use.

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