Political observers talk about potential Grimes-McConnell matchup

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Kentucky voters are still a year and a half away from casting their ballots in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. But many people across the state are wondering who the Democrats will run in a potential matchup with incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell.

Since actress Ashley Judd announced in March she would not run, the spotlight has shifted to Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Grimes was elected to her current office in 2011 by a wide margin.

"I don't know any Democrat who really doesn't like Alison (Lundergan) Grimes," said Dr. Tom Matijasic, a history professor at Big Sandy Community and Technical College. "As far as party workers go, they love her across the state. You can talk to any local Democratic committee in eastern Kentucky and ask them who they respect the most after Governor Beshear and they'll tell you Alison Grimes."

Matijasic said no matter who the Democrats nominate, the odds are still in McConnell's favor.

"I don't think he is particularly vulnerable," he said. "And I say that because he has a great ability to raise money. He has name recognition and he is the ranking Republican member of the Senate, so it is his race to lose."

But Benny Bailey, an adjunct professor of political science at hazard Community and technical College, said McConnell's nearly 30 years in office may hurt him.

"If we were taking a person who was born the year McConnell was elected, they'd be graduating college now and looking at opportunities in front of them," Bailey said. "Are they better off today than they would have been when he was first elected?"

Candidates have until January 28, 2014, to file.

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