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[dc]“A[/dc] jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one,” House Speaker Sam Rayburn famously observed.

Grimes Beating Mitch

Kentucky unions think they have a master carpenter in Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who is after Sen. Mitch McConnell’s job.

The barn McConnell wants to bash is organized labor, says the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, which endorsed Grimes last year.

Promises Grimes: “In the U.S. Senate, I will help create jobs in Kentucky by raising the minimum wage, ending tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, championing equal pay for equal work, sponsoring legislation to ensure our veterans have access to good-paying jobs, and fighting to reduce student loan debt.

“I also believe it is critically important to protect Medicare and Social Security for our seniors. We should keep our promise to Kentucky seniors who cannot afford to have their healthcare or benefits cut.”

Grimes, 35, is Kentucky’s secretary of state. She is giving hope to Kentucky Democrats who long for their blue and red “Ditch Mitch” bumper stickers to come true.

Bluegrass State union volunteers are phone banking, wearing out shoe leather canvassing neighborhoods, passing out fliers and doing all else they can to help Grimes “send Mitch McConnell back to Alabama,” his native state, as she likes to put it.

Grimes says she challenged McConnell “because Washington is broken. Middle-class families across our state are struggling to make ends meet, but they don’t have a voice in Washington. As Kentucky’s senator, I will put politics aside and always do what’s best for Kentucky, which is why I have offered a comprehensive jobs plan that will rebuild the middle class and help create jobs.”

She calls the senate minority leader “Sen. No.” “If the doctors told Sen. McConnell he had a kidney stone, he would refuse to pass it,” Grimes jabbed him at the famous Fancy Farm political picnic last year, the first time their campaign trails converged.

McConnell managed a pained smile that made the senate majority leader wannabe look like he was having a kidney stone attack, some gleeful Democrats quipped.

“She’s all Southern steel magnolia with her gorgeous smile and her sugar-coated daggers,” according to the Politicususa website.

Adds Grimes: “Our state faces serious challenges that won’t be solved by the hyper-partisanship and gridlock championed by Mitch McConnell. It’s time to put hardworking Kentuckians back to work and get Washington working for Kentucky again – 30 years is long enough.”

From Lexington, the heart of Bluegrass thoroughbred race horse country, Grimes is in her first term in the secretary of state’s office. “As secretary of state, I have seen firsthand what we can accomplish when we focus on the right set of priorities. I brought Republicans and Democrats together to protect the right to vote for our military and domestic violence victims and help keep Kentucky open for business by streamlining our business laws. As Kentucky’s senator, I’ll continue being the independent problem-solver that will always put Kentucky first.”

Kentucky coal country is east and west of the Bluegrass. McConnell says he is “pro-coal” and Grimes is not. She says it’s the other way around.

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“I am proud to have the backing and endorsement of the United Mine Workers of America. Our coal miners and families across the commonwealth know that I will fight to protect their jobs, for safe working conditions, and most importantly, for the benefits that they have earned after a lifetime of hard work. I am a pro-coal Kentucky Democrat and will fight in the senate for coal, for Kentucky jobs, for a strong middle class. I will fight to make Washington work for Kentucky.”

Bluegrass State union volunteers are phone banking, wearing out shoe leather canvassing neighborhoods, passing out fliers and doing all else they can to help Grimes “send Mitch McConnell back to Alabama,” his native state, as she likes to put it.

To that end, Grimes said she will support free trade, but only if is fair trade. “First and foremost, trade must be fair to Kentucky and American workers and businesses. Trade agreements should create a level playing field. Our American workers are the most productive in the world, and given a fair deal, they can compete with anyone. When trade is fair, expanding the export markets for American goods, including Kentucky products such as coal, bourbon and motor vehicles, can be a good thing.”

Her “good thing” list includes protecting and strengthening Medicare and Social Security. “I believe we should keep our promises to our seniors, while also preserving these programs for our children and grandchildren. I will never vote to reduce benefits or restrict eligibility for Social Security or Medicare. I will be an unwavering opponent of privatizing Social Security or Medicare, or moving either to a voucher program.

“I will never support means-testing for Social Security. Instead, I will look for ways to spend smarter and focus on reducing waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare system; improve coordination of care between doctors, hospitals and patients, and allow Medicare to better negotiate prescription drug prices. Mitch McConnell voted to do away with Medicare as we know it and privatize Social Security, which would gamble seniors’ retirement on the stock market.

“Mitch McConnell’s support for ending Medicare as we know by switching to a voucher system would be disastrous for seniors and the most vulnerable in our communities. A voucher system would leave it up to seniors to figure out how to keep their own medical costs down as the value of their voucher fails to match their health care costs.

“I am running to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security for our seniors. Rather than push for privatization, vouchers, or some other backdoor benefit cut, we should be looking for ways to spend smarter. I believe in keeping our promises to our nation’s seniors while preserving these programs for our children and grandchildren.”

Unions are among the staunchest supporters of Medicare and Medicaid. Since he was elected in 1984, McConnell has voted against the union position on legislation 88 percent of the time, according to the AFL-CIO. Unions say few lawmakers in Washington are more anti-labor than McConnell and Rand Paul. Kentucky’s other GOP senator, Paul has voted the union way only 7 percent of the time since he was elected in 2010.

Last year, McConnell and Paul proposed legislation to enact a national right to work law. Grimes is against right to work laws at both the federal and state levels.

“Collective bargaining is a fundamental right of our American workers and I strongly oppose right to work legislation. Labor has lifted millions out of poverty and helped to grow the middle class. In the U.S. Senate, I will continue to be an unwavering voice in support of the rights of workers and their right to collectively bargain, an essential tool for economic well-being.

“Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell has led the charge against Kentucky workers as he attempts to cut wages and jobs. Right to work is just another name for union-busting and yet another clear example of McConnell selling out Kentucky’s middle class to millionaires and billionaires.”

Earlier this year, a newspaper quoted McConnell as saying that bringing jobs to Kentucky was not his job. Grimes said creating jobs “will be my top priority in the U.S. Senate. Working across the aisle toward compromise and finding common ground are what it takes to improve the lives of families in Kentucky and across the country.

“The most important issue facing Kentucky is the lack of access to good-paying jobs. That is why I have offered a comprehensive jobs plan that will rebuild the middle class and help create jobs.

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“As a part of my plan, I pledge to create jobs here at home by ending tax breaks for corporations that ship our Kentucky jobs overseas and provide tax incentives for companies to bring jobs back to the commonwealth. As senator, I will also fight to balance the budget the right way, by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse and protecting investments that will help our economy grow. I have also been a long-time advocate of raising the minimum wage, closing the gender pay gap and easing the crushing burden of student loan debt. Each of these steps will boost wages and stimulate our economy. My number one focus is on creating access to good-paying jobs. That’s the most important issue facing Kentuckians and it should be reflected in the priorities of the commonwealth’s next U.S. senator.”

Declares Grimes: “Mitch McConnell has blocked measures to end tax breaks for moving jobs overseas and led the filibuster on a bill to end tax giveaways for companies shipping jobs overseas. In stark contrast, I support closing the loopholes that provide incentives for companies to ship good Kentucky jobs overseas and I support tax breaks that encourage companies to bring those jobs back to Kentucky or stay in Kentucky.”

Berry Craig

Berry Craig