LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- If Alison Lundergan Grimes is not going to run for U.S. Senate in 2014, she needs to drop out now to allow less connected candidates to begin raising campaign cash, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky Third Congressional District) said on Wednesday.
"Anybody else who might be thinking about this race is going to have to get started, raising money, setting up a network," Yarmuth said. "And, Alison has a lot of that network already set up but other potential challengers don't. So, I think it is a disservice to the party if she's not going to run."
Yarmuth spoke to several reporters prior to a ceremony marking the start of construction of the East End Bridge between Utica, Indiana and Prospect, Kentucky.
"Now, if (Grimes) is and starts talking as if she will make an announcement, soon, then I think that takes some of the pressure off," Yarmuth continued.
Grimes became the focus of campaign conjecture in March when actress Ashley Judd removed her name from consideration. Yarmuth had championed and counseled Judd on the race.
In early May, Grimes told WHAS11 she would "not be bullied" into making a senate decision, but was taking the necessary time to gauge the level of support she could expect if she entered the race.
As the only Kentucky Democrat in Congress, Yarmuth has been a key recruiter of potential challengers to five-term Republican incumbent Mitch Mcconnell, the Senate Minority Leader.
"I think that there is so much excitement about this race that if she's going to make it, I think she needs to make an announcement soon because that would help galvanize all the energy that is out there to unseat Mitch McConnell," Yarmuth said, "so I think the sooner the better, for Alison."
The four-term representative acknowledged that his initial "disservice" comments on Tuesday have caused some friction within the Kentucky Democratic Party.
"As I told her (Tuesday) night, if she is the candidate of our party, nobody will be a more enthusiastic supporter of hers than I will be," Yarmuth said. "I look forward to helping her. I think she would be a great candidate. But, she needs to make a decision on that."
"I think there are a lot of people who want to focus on one candidate and again try to galvanize the energy that's out there for a change in our senator," Yarmuth continued. "And I think there is probably a little bit of tension in the party right now but that will dissolve immediately once either Alison makes an announcement or someone else does."
Calling Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry "an incredibly potent challenger to Senator McConnell," Yarmuth said he expected Henry to make a senate decision this week.
"I think (former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman) Bill Garmer has long time associations around the state which would make him a strong candidate," Yarmuth said. "And, Tom FitzGerald has a great record on the environment. So, I think any of them - given the amount of interest nationally in this race - any of them can end up being a very formidable candidate."
Yarmuth said he has seen a new McConnell campaign web video which links the IRS scandal to the Obama administration.
"The IRS situation is a deplorable situation. It never should have happened," Yarmuth started. "On the other hand, the genesis of the problems that the IRS is trying to deal with comes from Citizens United and people like Mitch McConnell who believe that anonymous, unlimited funding is appropriate in the political system," Yarmuth said. "And I think anybody who looks at it closely understands that this is a very, very serious national problem and Mitch has been on the wrong side of it."
Yarmuth said Democrats have been on the right side of recent history and a rebounding economy would help the party of the president.
"A challenger can point to the fact that despite Mitch McConnell's consistent efforts to thwart any action or to promote any kind of job creation activity in this country, the economy has basically benefited from many of the policies of the Obama administration," Yarmuth said.