Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Monday that she would challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2014.
"I have met with supporters, we had a great conversation," she said at a press conference in Frankfort, Ky. "We can next make the best move, the best difference by running for the U.S. Senate."
A poll conducted by the Senate Majority PAC in late May showed Grimes and McConnell tied in a hypothetical matchup.
Even though he represents deep-red Kentucky, McConnell, a five-term senator, is very unpopular in the state. An April Public Policy polling survey showed him with a 36 percent favorability rating, while 54 percent disapproved of his job performance. In a January Courier-Journal/SurveyUSA poll, 34 percent of respondents said they would vote against McConnell no matter who runs against him.
McConnell immediately responded to the news in a statement. "Accepting the invitation from countless Washington liberals to become President Obama's Kentucky candidate was a courageous decision by Alison Lundergan Grimes and I look forward to a respectful exchange of ideas," he said. "The next sixteen months will provide a great opportunity for Kentuckians to contrast a liberal agenda that promotes a war on coal families and government rationed health care with someone who works everyday to protect Kentuckians from those bad ideas."
Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, released a statement as well:
The Kentucky Senate race is now a toss up. Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular incumbent in the entire country. He is a relic of the past and a symbol of everything that is wrong with Washington. Kentuckians want a change. According to DSCC polling done by Fred Yang of Hart Research, McConnell’s job approval rating is net -27% with 62% of Kentucky voters disapproving of his job performance to just 35% approving. Just 28% of registered voters said they plan to vote to reelect McConnell.