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Last week’s Marion County Democratic Party’s annual dinner also served as a campaign stop for U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.
“Can we move the state of Kentucky from team Mitch to team switch?” she asked the hundreds of partisans in attendance.
“Yes,” they replied.
“Mitch” is incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is up for re-election in 2014. McConnell is also facing a Republican primary challenge from Louisville businessman Matt Bevin.
But Thursday’s Democratic gathering was focused on Grimes and the local Democratic Party.
Teresa Rakes, the chairwoman of the Marion County Democrats, served as the master of ceremonies for the evening.
Trey Abell of the Marion County Young Democrats introduced plans to create a scholarship fund to benefit Marion County High School students who are also taking college courses. He said this was an example of the kind of civic involvement Democrats should be doing.
State Rep. Terry Mills pointed out that seven of Kentucky’s eight federal legislators are Republicans, and that makes it hard to get out the Democratic message.
“I think Democratic values and beliefs will win if people know both sides,” Mills said.
He continued to say that means strengthening the middle class, it means fewer judgments and more love, and more moderation and less extremism.
“I’ve heard politicians say I’ll never give on that issue. It sounds good in speeches, but it will result in never getting anything done,” Mills said.
Former governor and current State Sen. Julian Carroll took the podium before Grimes.
After pledging to buy a t-shirt to support the scholarship fund, he told Mills that he was correct in his remarks.
And he had one more message for the crowd.
“Mitch McConnell can be beaten,” Carroll said.
When Grimes stepped up to the microphone, she told stories of Kentuckians who McConnell had failed to talk to, adding that she wanted to give them a voice.
“I’m here tonight for each and every one of you,” she said.
She added that there is a disease of dysfunction in Washington D.C., and the only job McConnell is looking out for is his own. She went on to say that Kentucky should have a senator who believes in growing the middle class, in a living wage instead of a minimum wage, and in equal pay for equal work.
She also said labor deserves a senator who will work with them and fight to keep jobs in Kentucky.
As she was wrapping up her remarks, Grimes said people saw something in the faces of her supporters when she kicked off her campaign, something she also saw last week.
“They saw the hope that is in each of your eyes,” she said.
In a short interview before the dinner, Grimes answered questions about the Affordable Care Act and coal.
Grimes said she has concerns about the ACA, noting that as the state’s chief business official, she has heard concerns of many business owners. She added that, unlike McConnell, she doesn’t want to throw out the entire law.
She also said the delay in the employer mandate was a good thing, and given the technical issues that have affected people’s ability to sign up for insurance through the health exchanges, it would be “sensible and reasonable” to extend the individual enrollment deadline.
On coal, she said it keeps the lights on in Kentucky. She also said this is an area where she disagrees with the executive branch of the government.
“It’s not just an environmental issue. It’s an economic issue,” Grimes said. “I’ll fight for Kentuckians and for their jobs.”