Louisville Magazine

OCT 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/388156

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Page 38 of 172

36 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 10.14 "And perhaps the less you say, (one) can infer that that person believes what I believe." Do voters buy it? Some do. I meet a tobacco-chewing, unemployed machinist who has latched onto Grimes because he says Grimes has "fresh ideas" about the economy. But a lot of voters may want to know more about who they're committing to for the next six years. Next month, when Grimes will start to fall behind in many polls, her campaign will release an internal poll — the one meant to revive and refresh her chances. It shows that only 38 percent of voters view Grimes' job performance as secretary of state as favorable, just above McConnell's 32 percent job-approval mark, a number she jabbed at Fancy Farm. Grimes 101. Her advantage: She's not Mitch McConnell at a time when America holds Congress in very low regard. She's good at raising money. She's young, female, lively — a stark contrast to the 72-year-old McConnell, who was frst elected to the Senate in 1984. Her problem: Grimes is running as a Democrat in a state that hates Obama. In the 2012 election, Obama won only four of Kentucky's 120 counties. A Democrat hasn't held a Senate seat since Wendell Ford was re-elected in 1992. Her resume: In 2001 Grimes graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, with a bachelor's degree in political science. Law School at American University in Washington, D.C. Practiced law in Lexington for seven years, focusing on business litigation. Grimes was the top vote-getter on the 2011 ballot when she ran for secretary of state, winning the position with 61 percent of the vote. (Kentucky voters don't mind Democrats in state government. It's at the federal level that they've been leaning Republican.) Te landscape: Te 2010 Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United paved the way for super PACs to accept unlimited contributions from corporations and unnamed donors. With more cash to spend, TV ads now dominate elections. According to a recent Center for Public Integrity report, nearly $12 million paid for 37,500 ads played on Kentucky television through August. Temes range from who loves coal the most to who is the most corrupt. McConnell relentlessly barrages airwaves with the message Grimes = Obama. And in case you haven't heard, this race is projected to wind up as the most expensive Senate race in history, possibly reaching a total of $100 million. Her campaign song: Seems to be Katy Perry's "Roar." Her team: 1) A petite blond 20-something named Charly Norton. Originally from Michigan, she is Grimes' press spokesperson, who diligently blasts media with three to six emails a day about McConnell's latest blunder. 2) A talkative 30-something who probably doesn't sleep — Jonathan Hurst, her campaign manger. (He helped run her secretary of state campaign.) 3) A tall bearded man who steps in front of cameras at press gatherings after a few minutes with declarations like, "We got to go. Time to get the secretary back to Frankfort." He's her security guard and driver. I think his name is Matt. Tere are others too. But I see these three folks a lot. Her signature move: Dropping in names of folks she's met on the trail. For example, during Fancy Farm: "It's not a minimum wage; it's a living wage that Kentuckians like Mike Teagarden from Knox County need and deserve." A Grimes stump speech goes something like this: One of us represents the Washington establishment. One of us represents Kentucky. One of us represents the past. One of us represents the future. Who is Mitch McConnell? "Senator Gridlock!" Loving on millionaires and billionaires. Doesn't want to bring jobs to Kentucky. Keeps students drowning in debt. Pushes to bankrupt seniors by increas- ing Medicare costs. Doesn't show up to committee meetings so he can schmooze with millionaires and billionaires. Tinks women should get paid less. Oh — and he voted against the Violence Against Women Act! Twice! I am not Obama. I am not an empty dress. I am not a rubber stamp. I am not a cheerleader. I'm a strong independent Kentucky woman. And I don't scare easy! Bipartisan teamwork? Love it. I will fght to protect: coal, farms, women, students, hardworking Kentuckians, grandmamas and grandbabies, collective bargaining. Did I mention coal? Alison Case Lundergan was born three months premature at a hospital overlooking the river town of Maysville, Ken- tucky. It was Tanksgiving evening, 1978. Te Lundergan clan had driven one hour northeast to Maysville from their home in Lexington to spend the holiday in the small town where Jerry Lundergan and his wife Charlotte had grown up and their parents still lived. At birth, Alision weighed less than two pounds. Te family bought a doll that could ft in an adult hand to remember how small she was. She spent months in the NICU. She likes to say that's where her fghting spirit began. Grimes is the third of the fve sisters. All have names beginning with the letter "A." As in many families with a cluster of same-sex siblings, each earned a label. Abby was the social butterfy. Alissa was the ded- icated equestrian, tending to rescued horses the family kept on their farm. Alison was the focused one. She was organized, quiet, driven, competitive, be it in school or ballet, to which she dedicated much of her childhood. Jerry Lundergan won a Kentucky House seat in 1979 and eventually served as chairman of Kentucky's Democratic Party. Grimes says their household — a loud, close-knit, Catholic bunch — treated Election Day "almost like Christmas." While most kids had the day of, the Lundergan girls were reading precinct lists, working phone banks and, as teenagers, giving voters rides to the polls. Ask those who know Lundergan well about the now 67-year-old, and they often chuckle and hesitate with a "how do I say this?" pause. A few of the descriptions: an old pol, glad-handing, fast-talking. Maysville Mayor David Cartmell, who grew up with Lundergan, says, "All you need to know about Jerry is that he grew up on a carnival midway." As a boy, Lundergan helped his parents sell lemonade and hot dogs at carnivals and fairs. Eventually he and his brothers turned his parents' business into a catering/event-services empire. Along with catering fancy afairs, Lundergan's company serves boxed lunches to workers at natural disasters. As a public speaker, Lundergan has a preacher quality to him — fapping arms and a decibel that makes his "Ps" pop at the microphone. In a conversation with Grimes' sister Alissa about her sibling's decision to follow her dad into public ofce, Tibe mentioned that the family had seen the "good and bad side of politics." When Grimes was 10 years old, her father was convicted on ethics charges after his catering company was awarded a lucrative no-bid state contract. He was forced to resign from the General Assembly. Te conviction was later overturned on appeal. Grimes told the New York Times the experience toughened her. Lundergan's blue-collar upbringing and emphasis on loyalty earned him a powerful friend in Bill Clinton. In the '80s when Clinton was gov- ernor of Arkansas, the two Southern Democrats became close. (Lunder- gan's company catered Chelsea Clinton's wedding.) Grimes has a picture And in case you haven't heard, this race is projected to wind up as the most expensive Senate race in history, possibly reaching a total of $100 million.

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