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 43 of 172

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 10.14 41 It's 9:35 in the morning on Aug. 7, and I am late. Tere isn't a soul in the ofce at Whayne Supply. Desks empty, papers abandoned in mid-scrawl, phones silent. It's as though the Rapture has sucked heavenward all the good people of Corbin, Kentucky, which is south of Lexington about 40 miles from the Tennessee border. Nobody mans the front desk. Tat alone feels like an invitation, so I wander in. As I advance, I see two men to my left. I expect them to yell, "Get out of here!" Tey don't. Tey don't seem to care. I push through a door and into a warehouse. And now I hear voices. Te farther I walk, the louder the voices. Te farther I walk, the brighter the light. Finally, I reach a large room at the end of the warehouse. I am entering the presence of Senator Mitch McCon- nell. Maybe 100 people, mostly men, stand around a chunk of coal the size of a pygmy hippo. It catches the light and glitters seductively, displaying a dazzle every bit as beguil- ing as that other carbon product, although this one is not quite ready for an engagement ring setting. A young woman yells (young women, I'll come to learn, are always yelling), "When I say team, you say Mitch. Team!" "Mitch!" "Team!" "Mitch!" "When I say Kentucky, you say coal. Kentucky!" "Coal!" "Kentucky!" "Coal!" Tat night, when I bed down in an overpriced Holiday Inn Express in Hazard, the chant will ring through my dreams. I will have heard it 100 times or more. Maybe 1,000, with occasional variations: "When I say Mitch, you say coal!" "Mitch!" "Coal!" "Mitch!" "Coal!" No chants are unprompted. No enthusiasm is unaided by the ample voice of some young female campaign work- er. I ponder starting my own chants. "When I say ketchup, you say tomato!" "Ketchup!" "Tomato!" "Ketchup!" "Tomato!" But I don't. Tere more serious matters at hand. We are on the warpath this day in August, and 30-year GOP incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, 72, is leading the assault. Corbin is stop No. 1 in his headlong charge against the forces waging a War on Coal, stop No. 1 in the candidate's opportunity to drop the G's from his I-N-G's, stop No. 1 in the duPont Manual High School graduate's front-and-center attack on President Obama, the EPA, and She Who Is Seldom Named, that "empty dress" — as he called her earlier in the campaign — Alison Lundergan Grimes. Grimes is just the latest in a series of bodies that the Democrats have thrown at the Senate minority leader at six-year intervals. She should have had a little ceremony to honor the memory of the fallen, none of whom fared better than two-term incumbent Walter Dee Huddleston, McConnell's frst opponent for U.S. Senate in 1984. McConnell came in with the Ronald Reagan landslide but bested Huddleston by just 5,200 votes — a margin of less than 1 percent. Next up, in 1990, was former Louisville Mayor Harvey Sloane. McConnell won by 40,000 votes. Six years later, current Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear jumped in the ring. He probably should have kept on jumping; McConnell won by more than 160,000 votes. Louis Combs Weinberg — remember her? anybody? — helped McConnell make history by more than doubling Beshear's loss. McConnell won by 330,000 votes, a 30 percent margin. Tat was a record win for a Kentucky Republican. Wealthy Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford did considerably better in 2008, but he still lost by 100,000 votes. Like Evel Knievel, Grimes must leap these corpses at a dead sprint, and in heels. And to do so, she also takes a pro-coal line. You cannot be a statewide candidate without a pro-coal line, it seems. Hating the EPA also helps. Practice your mad face. McConnell mocks Grimes' coal commitment in his Corbin address. It goes like this: Former President Bill Clinton came to Kentucky to show support for Grimes. Te EPA building in Washington is named after Bill Clinton. Terefore, Grimes loves the EPA. "Do they think we're not smart enough to fgure this out?" he asks his Corbin audience. Of course we are! Mitch Mc- Connell, after all, is on a two-day sweep through Eastern Kentucky. He's keepin' it real, takin' it to the coalfelds, talkin' to the true believers, and spreadin' the message that when I say Mitch, you say coal. Just, please, keep your voice down. By Jenni Laidman With five Senate terms under his belt, shrewd campaigner Mitch McConnell makes his case for a sixth.

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