The Grimes Road Map to Defeat Mitch McConnell

For Democrats to win statewide in Kentucky, they must run up the score in urban areas without turning off voters in the state’s agricultural and coal counties. That’s as hard as it sounds — especially when a candidate can be painted by the competition as unsupportive of coal, one of the state’s crucial economic engines.

Exit Ashley Judd; enter Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Kentucky’s secretary of state will formally kick off her campaign against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next week. Her current status as a “blank slate” is what makes Democrats in the Bluegrass State optimistic that she can defeat the so-far-unbeatable Republican.

“I think she can get votes out of northern Kentucky and out west,” said Jimmy Cauley, a veteran Democratic operative in the state. “That’s where the race will be won or lost.”

Cauley, a former chief of staff to Democratic Gov. Steven L. Beshear and campaign manger on Barack Obama’s Senate campaign in Illinois, caught some heat earlier this year for pouring cold water on a prospective Judd bid.

The actress had great name recognition in the state, but Cauley and other state and national Democrats were unconvinced she could take down McConnell. He won two of his past four races with 53 percent or less, but he still emerged victorious.

Their apprehension about Judd’s candidacy wasn’t personal. It was geographical.

Outside the state’s urban areas of Louisville, Lexington and the Cincinnati suburbs in Northern Kentucky — where just one-third of the votes were cast in McConnell’s last race — there was concern Judd would get completely wiped out in the state’s coal and agricultural areas.

Read More on Roll Call: The Grimes Road Map to Defeat Mitch McConnell

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