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

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 172

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 10.14 39 that Kentucky and indeed the nation are ready for someone who can actually get Washington working again … promises to millionaires and billionaires.… And the people here in Kentucky, my name is on the ballot, but their backs, their blood, their sweat, their tears are in this for me." My mind wanders a bit. I've heard that "blood, sweat and tears" line somewhere before. Te Labor Day picnic, I think. I ask about what it was like growing up in the Lundergan family. "When we were younger, we would go from my grandparents' clothing store (Case's Men's Wear) to my grandmother, who worked with the sherif's department. Walking downtown back when downtowns were obviously vibrant" — her voice hardens — "as they should be to this day, if we had someone who fought for Main Street instead of Wall Street…." My mind wanders a bit. Norton tells me I have two minutes left. "Do you believe burning coal leads to climate change?" I ask. "I do believe in climate change. I do believe in the realities of climate change, unlike Mitch McConnell," she says. "I think we have to have a balanced approach … we have to have somebody who goes and fghts for the good jobs that we have in this state, including the coal jobs, but somebody who wants to make sure we have a diversifed economy and a pathway forward." I want to ask about income inequality, abortion (she's pro-choice) and gay marriage (she supports it but with cagey language). I want to ask in a really casual, chilling-with-a-cold-pint kind of way: "So, how about Obama?" Norton wraps up our time. Sixteen minutes 20 seconds. "Favorite movie?" I ask. "Shawshank Redemption," Grimes says, slamming her hands on the table. "Favorite book?" "Oh, that's hard," she says, getting up to leave the room. "One you're reading now?" "Hillary Clinton's book — Hard Choices." On the morning of Sept. 9, the western third of Kentucky hides beneath a heavy smear of fog. Tis is where Grimes will begin her day, stopping into Lyon County's public library in Eddyville for a breakfast meet-and-greet. Also there, a 46-year veteran of Eddyville's Herald Ledger newspaper: Bobbie Foust, who is dressed in a turquoise blouse and pants, with matching bangle bracelets. With her glasses, sensible white slip-on shoes and white hair, age makes Foust look as intimidating as a teacup. But she's no-nonsense. When asked about industry in Lyon County, a swath of land surrounded by lakes, she replies, "Farming. Prisons. Tourism." (Te county's population of 9,000 can increase to 50,000 come summer time. Lyon County is also home to two state prisons and rich, red soil good for farming.) By the time Grimes reaches the library, her supporters have neatly piled glazed doughnuts into a basket, bundled orange daisies into a vase and placed Sweet'n Low in glass dishes. About 60 locals pile into a room in the library lined with arrowheads in glass cases. Cofee plunges into Styrofoam cups. A reporter from Switzerland sets up his camera next to a photogra- pher from Paducah. Tis is an outlying county Grimes could theoretically win. While the latest polls have shown her getting hammered in rural western and eastern Kentucky counties, Lyon County has far more registered Democrats than Republicans. In 2008 McConnell beat Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford here by only 168 votes. But the county overwhelmingly voted for McCain and Romney in the last two presidential elections. (In May's pri- mary election against three opponents with basically zero funding, Grimes earned about 69 percent of the vote in Lyon County. In Martin County, a small coal county, Grimes received 55 percent of the vote.) Outside the library, compact, one-story brick ranches tuck into gentle rolling hills; single-story government buildings boast lawns as tidy as a ca- det's buzz cut. An older brunette with a blue Grimes shirt and bright pink lips wipes doughnut glaze from the corner of her mouth and informs me that if I went closer to the lakes, I'd see wealth. "We have a lot of people moving here from Indiana, and they're Republicans," she begins. "So I don't have any way of knowing what's going to happen." Lifelong Lyon County residents — not just transplants — vote Republican too. Just behind the library, Mitch Coomer puts on a white pharmacist jacket and trims hair, unaware Grimes is in town. He's soft-spoken, a few fecks of gray in his goatee. Mitch's Barber Shop is in a boxy brick building Coomer splits with an insurance agent. Te walls are wood-paneled. Te Ten Commandments hang above Coomer's mirror. He's pro-McConnell. While Lyon County is not a coal county, he says that's an important issue to him. Plus, he's a conservative. "McConnell's easily the more conservative of the two," Coomer says. Grimes' speech is fairly standard, executed loudly as she stands in shiny beige heels and a black dress, one clump of hair over her left shoulder — the way she wears it in nearly all ads and on all campaign stops. Grimes elevates her tone when she eludes to an audio tape of a speech McCon- nell made to the Koch brothers, the billionaire industrialists who have pumped money into Republican campaigns. On the tape, McConnell vows to block votes on boosting the minimum wage and extending un- employment if he becomes majority leader. "He'll choose the millionaires and billionaires," Grimes starts. And when a cell phone rings, she shifts. "And that's him calling right now because he's asking for your vote!" Te crowd laughs, applauds. "Don't listen to the outside polls out of Kentucky. Te polls in this state, what they show you all know in this standing-room crowd," she says to the room, with maybe 15 chairs for 60 people. "Tis race is neck and neck!" "So, Lyon County, will we stand united? Let me hear you say, 'Yes!'" "Yes!" Te Herald Ledger's Foust says Grimes is well-liked in this county. She visited it during her secretary of state campaign. In the next few weeks, she'll keep circling the state. Meanwhile, national pundits will grapple with what she's doing wrong. Tey'll tell her to hype up the 500,000 Kentuckians who now have health insurance due to the Afordable Care Act. Tey'll applaud an ad that shows her skeet shooting in a feld and declaring, "I'm not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA." Tey'll dissect a debate scheduled to take place on KET this month. Notebook in hand, Foust walks up to Grimes, bypassing Charly Nor- ton, who traditionally acts as the gateway to post-event interviews. Foust turns on her recorder and starts her questions. In heels, Grimes stands about 5 feet 10 inches. Tat puts Foust at barely Grimes' shoulders. She listens as Grimes reiterates that the race is still close. "I think the person who's behind always looks on the optimistic side, and that's fne," Foust tells me later. She also says that McConnell has earned widespread loyalty in Lyon County. He recently helped pass the Freedom to Fish Act, a two- year moratorium on an Army Corps of Engineers plan to restrict fshing in waters near dams, a move that could've damaged tourism here. "Oh, is that what Grimes was talking about when she was telling you something about the EPA and farming?" I ask Foust, having overheard part of the interview. "She talked about farming," Foust says, smiling. "But I didn't really ask about farming." "I do believe in climate change. I do believe in the realities of climate change, unlike Mitch McConnell," Grimes says. "I think we have to have a balanced approach. we have to have somebody who goes and fights for the good jobs that we have in this state, including the coal jobs."

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