Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

I join the editors of The Courier Journal in urging Senator Mitch McConnell and challenger Alison Grimes to “stop debating debates.” The Courier gets the right message out, even if the editorial obscures the unwillingness of Grimes to debate the Senate minority leader. It predictably skewers towards portraying Grimes as waiting in the wings for her obstinate opponent, when in fact Grimes has consistently declined several debate offers from McConnell since May. Earlier this month Bluegrass Politics reported that McConnell had accepted an invitation to appear at the Kentucky Farm Bureau candidate forum, mentioning that it was “unclear” if Grimes would meet the Senator there.

“Unclear” seems to be the theme of Grimes’s campaign. Her strategy thus far has been short on positive political platforming and long on doubletalk, misspeaks and debate-avoidance. Last week Andrew Johnson helpfully profiled the Grimes campaign’s proficiency at damage control for their clear-as-mud candidate. Of course, Grimes is getting helped out by Kentucky media outlets; The Lexington Herald Leader called hers a “fine line” on abortion which the more realistic among us might label opportunistic extremism.

Will we ever hear Grimes explain her views to Kentucky? Her campaign manager Jonathan Hurst insists that his candidate is ready and merely waiting for McConnell to cooperate. “We would welcome the opportunity to debate in all corners of the Commonwealth,” Hurst told Bluegrass Politics, before offering this gem: “Unfortunately, McConnell thinks he owns this Senate seat and hasn’t found the time to respond to our letter or sit down and negotiate with our campaign.”

 As far as owning a seat in the US senate, perhaps Hurst needs to review the definition of the word “incumbent.”  A little research might aid the Grimes machine if it longs to complain about a thirty year sitting Senator’s being too busy to humor an evasive establishment Democrat.