The daughter of a former state representative and Kentucky Democratic party chairman, Allison Lundergan Grimes was born 23 November 1978. She worked on her father's political campaigns as a child and later shuttled voters to the polls on election day. She grew up with plans to become a physician but changed course in college after witnessing graphic carpal tunnel surgical procedures. At Memphis' respected Rhodes College, she majored in political science, serving in student government and as a student trustee to the Board of Directors. Grimes is a cum laude graduate of the Washington College of Law at D.C.'s American University.
Allison Lundergan Grimes was an associate attorney at Lexington's Stoll Keenon Ogden from 2004 to 2011 before running for Secretary of State, practicing intellectual property and complex business law. She points to a domestic violence case she won for a single mother as inspiration for her political career. Named 2010 Outstanding Young Lawyer by the Fayette County Bar Association, she also served as president of the Fayette County Women Lawyers' Association and was a member of the 2008 Democratic National Committee.
Residing in downtown Lexington, Grimes and her husband Andrew own a Bernese Mountain Dog that was prominently featured in a 'Story' magazine feature on Grimes.
Steeped in Democratic party politics from an early age, Alison Lundergan Grimes is the current Kentucky Secretary of State, an office that serves as a traditional springboard to higher office. Only six years old when incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell assumed office, she's set her sights on his seat. After actress Ashley Judd declined to pursue the Democratic party nomination, Grimes announced her intentions in early July 2013.
Despite apparently long odds -- Kentucky is one of the redder states in the union where President Obama tallied only 40% of the vote in 2012 -- Grimes has shown her resiliency in prior electoral campaigns. In 2010, she declared her intention to run for the open Secretary of State office in the Commonwealth. When incumbent Trey Grayson resigned his office in January 2011 to become the Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics, Gov. Beshear appointed Bowling Green mayor Elaine Walker to replace Grayson. One of the intriguing back stories of this campaign is the decades-long feud between Beshear and Grimes' father, Jerry Lundergan. Undaunted, Grimes went on to defeat Walker in the primary a few months later. The following November, she crushed Republican opponent Bill Johnson, garnering over 60% of the vote. Now, following Grimes' intention to seek McConnell's seat, it appears that Kentucky Democrats have put aside any past political differences to unite behind the Secretary of State's bid for higher office.
With no serious primary opposition in a state where Democrats have historically done well and McConnell struggling to parry Tea Party opposition from within his own ranks, Grimes must be considered a viable candidate to dislodge the Minority Leader. In mid-December, Public Policy Polling reported a virtual dead heat for the 2014 Senate race between McConnell and Grimes. In what is looking to be one of the most expensive electoral contests in the nation, Grimes will benefit from the support of super PACs such as We Are Kentucky. Using contributions from organized labor and others, We Are Kentucky is poised to spend millions on media ads to defeat McConnell. Emily's List has also thrown their support behind Grimes. As for star power, Bill Clinton is expected to make at least one campaign speech in state touting Grimes, and has reportedly introduced her to wealthy donors.
The question remains: Can a moderate such as Allison Lundergan Grimes win statewide election in conservative Kentucky in 2014? Or will McConnell, perhaps the orneriest politician in American politics, turn off women voters with over-the-top campaign tactics such as the photo-shopped "Obama Girl" mocking of Grimes?
Allison Grimes would be a shoo-in for election. She's shown her prowess in campaigning, as evidenced by her landslide November win for the Kentucky Secretary of State office. Her father is an influential state party boss. She's demonstrated a record of accomplishment while Secretary of State by instituting a confidentiality program for victims of domestic violence, championing laws to protect the voting rights of military personnel and absentee voters and removing regulatory obstacles in state government to facilitate business growth. Grimes created a "one-stop shop" for Kentucky businesses to interact with multiple state agencies through a single point of contact. She notes that there are 854 federal regulations affecting small businesses in the Commonwealth and supports reducing regulatory obligations that impede business and job growth.
But Grimes is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, veteran of five previous senatorial campaigns and one of the most powerful men in federal government. That she's given a fighting chance of toppling McConnell shows how vulnerable he's become. Thanks to the influence of the Tea Party within the Bluegrass state's GOP ranks, which propelled Rand Paul into the Senate in 2010, McConnell faces a primary challenger who's rapidly closing the gap with him.
Presuming that Allison Lundergan Grimes faces off with McConnell this November, she'll need a hefty campaign war chest to do battle with the millions of dollars that will come from not only the Minority Leader's campaign coffers but from super PACs aligned with McConnell such as Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. As Secretary of State, she's worked to expand the electorate; Grimes will need a large turnout and the almost unwavering support of Kentucky's female voters to oust McConnell from his senate seat.
Below are some of Alison Lundergan Grimes' positions on national and foreign policy issues, as well as her view of the federal government's role in Americans' lives. Bear in mind this website is constantly updated as Grimes declares or clarifies her positions on the issues that will determine whether or not she is elected as United States Senator for Kentucky in 2014.
One of Grimes' core values is the advocacy of women and their families, of which more will be examined below. On the issue of abortion, she is has been quoted as "pro-choice down the line." Although raised in a "devout" Catholic family, Grimes avows support for the separation of church and state.
"I am supportive of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. And I think that this is the kind of choice that has to be up to the woman, her God and her doctor."
Grimes looks to draw blood against McConnell's votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, quoting the Minority Leader on her website as describing equal pay for equal work as just another "special interest vote." Grimes is also hammering McConnell on his staunch opposition to the Violence Against Women Act and his efforts to block a vote on the bill. The namesake of the Fair Pay Act, Lily Ledbetter, has announced her support for Grimes in the 2014 election. Look for Grimes to continue her advocacy for victims of domestic violence as senator.
Like every other politician in a state where coal is king, Grimes supports extensive use of coal as well as other fossil fuels to meet the nation's industry needs. She calls for further developing the Commonwealth's coal reserves and supports more coal exports to reduce America's trade deficit. Grimes has attempted to put considerable distance between her and President Obama in a state where the president remains unpopular.
"I strongly oppose President Obama's attack on Kentucky's energy industry. This Administration has taken direct aim at Kentucky's coal industry, crippling our state's largest source of domestic energy and threatening thousands of jobs."
As Kentucky is largely a rural state (with the highest per captia number of deer and turkey in the U.S. and the largest free-ranging elk population east of the Mississippi River), gun control is an issue dear to the hearts of many in the Bluegrass state. In an effort to demonstrate her bona fides, Grimes sent out an invite (via a press release) to McConnell, inviting him to join her at a gun range. This publicity stunt is apparently a preemptive move to counteract the amount of money the NRA is prepared to use for McConnell's reelection. The NRA has already bestowed upon the Minority Leader their "Defender of Freedom" award, and as NRA lobbyist Chris Cox acknowledges, NRA support for McConnell will be "at full strength."
"As an NRA member, my strong support for the Second Amendment is unquestioned. I am proud of Kentucky's long-held gun ownership, sporting and hunting traditions. It is unfortunate that Senator McConnell is desperate to mislead Kentucky voters about my strong support for the Second Amendment."
Another indication of Obama's lack of popularity in the Commonwealth: Kentuckians hate Obamacare but like provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Therefore, Grimes is attempting to have her cake and eat it too. She can't be seen as abandoning Obamacare and risk the enmity of her Democratic base. Thus, while she supports keeping the ACA, Grimes also recommends that small businesses receive the same delay of mandated coverage as large corporations have. Mindful that Kentucky ranks in the bottom of the nation's health ratings, she's criticized McConnell for his absolute opposition to the law.
On her website, Allison Lundergan Grimes cites her support for raising the minimum wage "to ensure middle class security for women and their families." She endorses a proposal from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, thereby increasing the Bluegrass state's GDP by $546 million with an increase of 2,200 jobs. Again couching issues from a woman's perspective, she wants to provide additional tax breaks to businesses that create on-site child care centers or assist employees in finding child care services. Allison Grimes blasted the Minority Leader for his proposal to reduce child care to approximately 1,700 Kentucky children through the Child Care and Development Block Grant. She notes that 600,000 Kentuckians are enrolled in Social Security and 800,000 in Medicare and points out that women are more dependent on income from Social Security than are men and that the majority of Medicare recipients are women. She slams McConnell for his support of privatizing Social Security and his efforts to transform Medicare by increasing seniors' out-of-pocket costs by almost $6,000 annually.