Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes went to the heart of coal country Thursday night to talk to coal supporters about her jobs plan.
Grimes, 35, is the presumptive favorite to win the Democratic primary and then face off against five-term incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell. She addressed an enthusiastic crowd at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, telling them about the jobs plan and that McConnell “has failed Kentucky” during an economic recession.
“As Kentucky’s next United States senator, my No. 1 priority will be to put Kentuckians back to work in good-paying jobs,” she told the cheering crowd.
And just in case there was any question about her support for coal, Grimes said, “As your next United States senator, I will work with anyone who sides with coal.”
It was a well-received message and the choice of setting was no coincidence.
McConnell never misses a chance to link Grimes with President Barack Obama who is blamed in coal regions for the decline in the coal economy or to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who once said coal makes people sick.
But it would’ve been difficult to out-coal Grimes in her 36-minute speech Thursday night.
“Washington has proposed regulatory barrier after barrier that has driven our coal jobs down to unprecedented lows, inflicted pain in areas throughout Kentucky, in particularly in eastern Kentucky,” she told a loud cheering crowd of 500 or more.
“When I am in the United States Senate, I will call on the president to do the right thing and to develop an energy plan that does not threaten the livelihood of Americans,” Grimes said. She said she will form alliances with other coal state lawmakers “to reign in the EPA.”
“Coal, its place in Kentucky and across the United States and the nation’s economy, it is not a partisan issue,” she continued. “As your next United States senator, I will work with anyone who sides with Kentucky and I will oppose anyone who tries to undercut our needs, our resources and our very values.”
Grimes was joined by former Democratic governors Paul Patton and Martha Layne Collins in Prestonsburg, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg and House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, all of whom said Grimes will be a better U.S. Senator for the people of eastern Kentucky than McConnell.
Grimes recounted a trip to Louisa to visit with workers at the Kentucky Power Company’s Big Sandy Plant in Louisa, which will soon idle its coal generators – “as a result of misguided federal regulation,” Grimes said.
She said her “common sense solutions” in her jobs plan will require “a new face of leadership, someone who puts people above partisan politics,” will put Kentucky families like those in Louisa back to work.
Grimes said she will work to support the economic diversification of eastern Kentucky, and she turned to back-pocket issues she’s repeatedly talked about such as raising the minimum wage and pay equity for women.
On each issue, she contrasted her position with votes against such legislation by McConnell, saying he’d voted against raising the minimum wage 15 times while increasing his own pay and increasing his personal wealth while in office.
Those in attendance were given copies of her jobs plan which is also available at her campaign website (www.alisonforkentucky. com). She said the plan is “detailed and specific” and said such a plan is something “Mitch McConnell has never produced.”
She talked about supporting federal assistance for child care, additional tax incentives for businesses which provide on-site day care, and federal funding for broadband and infrastructure upgrades in eastern Kentucky.
Grimes said she will seek federal assistance for coal regions in Kentucky which are suffering and seek funding for community colleges to retrain laid off workers. She called for federal tax incentives for businesses which hire veterans.
She even said she’ll fight to see the Mountain Parkway extended to provide a four lane all the way to Pikeville. But then she said she thought she could secure federal funding “by making the Mountain Parkway a spur of I-64.” The parkway is a state road and not part of the interstate highway system.
“When I am in the United States Senate, Kentucky will not need tolls,” Grimes said, again to loud applause.
Read more in the print or digital Glasgow Daily Times. http://glasgowdailytimes.cnhi.newsmemory.com/