Monday, August 25, 2014

Alison Grimes, Daddy's Little Girl


Alison Lundergan Grimes doesn't have just a bus problem:  she has Daddy Issues.  It was only a question of time before the Jerry Lundergan would become the focus of his daughter's campaign.  He is irresistible both to Grimes supporters and those who oppose her.

On the one hand, Lundergan is well-connected with prominent Democrats, most notably the Clintons.  As former Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party and a former member of the state House, he is an experienced pol in his own right, and widely believed to be making all the strategic calls for his daughter's campaign. Given the political landscape nationally this year, the fact that Grimes has access to buckets of cash through Daddy and friends made her an attractive candidate.

However, there is a perception that like the Clintons, Lundergan  is a grifter who skates awfully close to the line.  Grimes's supporters write irate comments whenever it is pointed out that Lundergan was convicted of a felony. He is technically not a "felon," Grimes's supporters  argue, because his conviction  for a state ethics violation was overturned on appeal.  Though true, that is an unsavory point for Grimes's supporters to have to debate.

Here's the reason that the bus issue is resonating and won't go away:  it is vintage Lundergan.  We knew this scandal was coming in one form or another. Grimes's Daddy essentially bought for her and then rented her a bus on the cheap. That's a generous impulse from a doting dad, but given his previous run-ins with the law, one would have thought that Lundergan would have been more careful.  Clearly, he has learned nothing.

Grimes, moreover, compromised her integrity and has seriously undermined her campaign to save a few bucks -- which makes no sense whatsoever given that her campaign is rolling in dough.  Thanks to Daddy and Slick Willie calling in favors, Grime is hauling suitcases full of money from Hollywood and New York. Even Woody Allen contributed to Grimes.

So why not rent a bus from a transportation company unrelated to her father, so as to avoid the accusation that she is violating federal election law?  It was a risk she did not need to take.

And yet she used Daddy's companies, not just to rent her bus but for many other aspects of her campaign, as well.. The unescapable conclusions is that Grimes's political instincts are not good.  Further, Grimes appears to be detached from the running of her own campaign. Grimes is a lawyer, and the daughter of someone who was convicted for an ethics violations.  This should have been one  part of the campaign where she should have taken a keen interest. But she did not. If this is the kind of attention to detail she pays to her own affairs, Kentuckians cannot count on her to navigate her way through the U.S. Senate.

Grimes does not have the gravitas to survive in the U.S. Senate.




Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mitch Momentum


Fancy Farm Photos


Fancy That

The Fancy Farm picture on the first page of today's Courier-Journal says it all:  the Republicans are young, energetic and on their feet; the Democrats are middle aged, tired and sitting on their party mascots, to put it politely.  It brought to mind the latest SUSA poll:  Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is winning both the youth and senior vote, while Alison Grimes' coalition is at the crisis point, composed mostly of middle agers.

Clearly McConnell has momentum.  That was evident from the level of enthusiasm of his supporters yesterday.  They were far more relaxed and confident than last year, when general unease divided the right field at Fancy Farm.  One never knew when or where an isolated Matt Bevin supporter would ring a cowbell next.  This year, though Bevin did attend the Graves County Republican breakfast (which he curiously boycotted last year), he made no podium remarks comparable to his last year's, "look how smart I am to make a literary allusion," quoting of John Donne's poem about the tolling bell. Indeed, he had no microphone at Fancy Farm at all this year.  Bevin sat on a bench near the back of the school cafeteria where the breakfast was held. Good for him, though, for at least showing up this year -- and for biting his tongue when one of the speakers made reference to McConnell's landslide victory in the primary.

And good for Senator Rand Paul, who delivered poetry also -- a lampoonish Lundergan-Grimes limerick.  Attorney General Jack Conway continued as character foil to Paul.  Conway spent most of his speech crowing about how great Jack Conway is as Attorney General, and how great it would be to elect Jack Conway as Governor, before ending with an, oh, and you should vote for Grimes for Senate also.  Paul, in contrast, said nothing about himself during his speech -- despite that he is the Republican frontrunner for the Presidency -- and remained the bigger candidate and man than the one who thought Aqua Buddha would get him elected to the U.S. Senate.

The Paul-Conway contrast was just one example of difference between the Republican and Democratic speakers at this year's Fancy Farm.  The Republicans had their National A-Team, led by the likely next Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate and possibly the next President of the United States.  The Democrats had their farm-league club.  Where was that Major League pitcher like President Barack Obama's teleprompter when the Democrats really needed it?

The only mentions of Obama (and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid) were by the Republicans.  The Grimes supporters awkwardly responded to their party leaders' names.  Obama and Reid were like  embarrassing, distant relatives at yesterday's Democratic family gathering.  The Grimes folks mostly just tried to ignore them, though Grimes did not dispute the Republicans' repeated point that her first vote as U.S. Senator would be for Uncle Harry to be her leader.

Other Democrats oddly missing at Fancy Farm were minorities.  In his breakfast speech Paul continued to advocate for the party of Lincoln to make more of an effort to reclaim its historic support from the African American community. But, again the C-J's picture tells a story:  there are no African Americans in sight, either on the Republican or the Democratic side.  From personal observation, however, I can say there were some African Americans and other minorities among McConnell's supporters who were outside the lens of the C-J's camera.

But I can't say I saw any minorities anywhere on the Grimes side.  This recollection seemed all the more significant this morning when I read in the C-J about a Northern Kentucky Democrat tweeting that McConnell's wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, "isn't from KY, she is Asian."

Indeed, whether you were born in Kentucky seemed to be a Democratic talking point yesterday.  A self-appointed "news" videographer from the Grimes camp -- at least I figured so since he was wearing a Grimes tee shirt -- came over to the McConnell side to interview Republicans.  One of his questions was whether we knew that McConnell wasn't born in Kentucky.

You know you are winning when the other side starts making the birther argument.