FRANKFORT, Ky (WHAS11) -- Flanked by five Kentucky governors, Secretary of State Alison
Lundergan Grimes (D) filed her candidacy papers on Thursday in her bid to unseat five-term incumbent Mitch McConnell (R) in this fall's U.S. Senate race.
"Today is an unprecedented show of unity," Grimes said.
Former Governor Julian Carroll interjected, "Amen."
Also attending were current Governor Steve Beshear, and former Governors John Y. Brown, Martha Layne Collins and Paul Patton, all fellow Democrats.
"Not just echoed here in the halls of the Frankfort state capitol," Grimes continued, "but all across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, because this is indeed a campaign that unlike Mitch McConnell and his efforts over the last 28 years is about uniting Democrats and Republicans."
"My approach couldn't be more different and stand in stark contrast to Sen. McConnell," Grimes added.
While Grimes stressed unity with state Democrats, including Auditor Adam Edelen, Attorney General Jack Conway and Treasurer Todd Hollenbach, who all also attended the event, she
distanced herself from national Democrats when asked whether she supported the leadership
strategy and future of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
"Unlike Sen. McConnell, I'm not running for a leadership position," Grimes responded, "and Kentucky has been the one who has lost as a result of Sen. McConnell literally playing
Washington politics and pandering to the Washington insiders and lobbyists and special interests. My focus is putting the people of Kentucky first."
In a "State of the Senate" speech on Wednesday, McConnell blamed Reid and Democrats for partisan gridlock in the Senate, pledging to roll back rules changes instated by the Democratic majority, if Republicans gain control of the chamber in November.
“I’m not here to claim that we are without fault,” McConnell acknowledged. "But I am certain of one thing. I’m absolutely certain of one thing, that the Senate can be better than it is.”
In November, frustrated by GOP filibusters and delays in Senate confirmations of President Obama's nominees to executive and judicial branch appointments, Democrats pushed through the so-called “nuclear option” for those nominations to proceed with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote threshold to cut off filibusters.
"There's blame on both sides of the aisle for the use of the filibuster and the nuclear option," Grimes said, "and I think what the people of Kentucky want and need and deserve and what we are about is making sure that there are results happening in Washington, DC."
"What I like about her is that she is a rebel with a cause," former Governor John Y. Brown said, "I mean, she's not going to be a 'yes' person to anybody."
Pressed a second and third time whether she would back Reid as Senate Majority Leader, Grimes deflected.
“I will evaluate all decisions, whether they be choices in leadership or legislation as a United States Senator with this in mind, and that is: ‘Is it best for the people of Kentucky?’ That's where I’ll be.”
Grimes met with Reid before entering the race. In October, the Democrat Leader hosted a fundraiser for Grimes in Nevada.
She was asked whether supporting Reid, who McConnell emphasizes is anti-coal, would hurt her politically among Kentucky voters.
“I stand for myself," Grimes responded, "I stand on my own. I don’t need the executive branch or any Senate leadership to speak for me."
Grimes emphasized her support for coal miners by lambasting McConnell's opposition this week to the extension of unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed.
"I believe that standing by our coal miners and their retirees, unlike Mitch McConnell who right now is playing partisan politics and parlor games in Washington DC with the unemployment
benefits that over 18,000 Kentuckians, 1200 coal miners in Pike County, that's their only source of income," Grimes said.
"I believe that increasing the minimum wage is not just a minimum wage is a living wage," Grimes added. "Each and every Kentuckian deserves that."
"Amen," interjected House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who has made a raise in Kentucky's minimum wage his top priority of the 2014 legislative session.
Grimes Campaign NEWS RELEASE
On Thursday, Jan. 9, in an unprecedented sign of unity, Alison Lundergan Grimes officially filed her paperwork for the U.S. Senate, joined by her fellow Democratic constitutional officers, five current and former Kentucky governors, and family – including her grandmother, Elsie Case.
Governors Beshear, Collins, Carroll, Patton and Brown attended Thursday’s signing, and Governors Jones, Ford and Congressman Yarmuth signed the paperwork, but were unable to attend. This historic gathering marks the first time Kentucky’s Democratic governors have assembled in one place united around a single candidate. Democrats have united around Alison as they recognize that she brings a bold vision and fresh approach for Kentucky.
“I am running because Kentuckians are worthy of a leader who will fight for them and recognizes that the strength of the Commonwealth comes from our people,” Grimes said. “I pledge to be that leader.”
Grimes continued, “Kentucky families deserve good jobs and a good quality of life. Filing our paperwork Thursday means that we are one step closer to helping Kentuckians achieve that.”
Unlike Mitch McConnell who wakes up each morning attempting to divide Kentucky, Alison is committed to uniting all of Kentucky. Since launching the campaign, supporters from all corners of the Commonwealth have gotten involved in this grassroots campaign. Momentum continues to build demonstrating Kentuckians are overwhelmingly ready for a U.S. Senator who will stand up for them.