Grimes 'very watchful' of Senate issues, urges McConnell on immigration


by Joe Arnold

Posted on June 24, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 24 at 6:29 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Alison Lundergan Grimes, the leading potential 2014 Democratic challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), is acknowledging rumors of an imminent decision and says she "very watchful" of ongoing Senate issues, yet is not yet ready to announce whether she will enter the race.

In her first specific comments on what would be a priority for her if elected, Grimes singled out immigration reform.

"My hope is that our current senior senator will not block the efforts of the bipartisan work that the Gang of Eight is trying to do for immigration reform," Grimes said in an interview with WHAS11. 

"As the issues are going on, especially the ongoing negotiations and meetings, (I) look forward to -- should I decide to get into this race -- having further substantive conversations with you about those," Grimes said.

The Kentucky Republican Party responded after WHAS11 aired Grimes' comments Monday afternoon.

"For someone as reluctant as Secretary Grimes is to weigh in on any national issue, it's interesting that she announced her support for the Senate's immigration bill without even reviewing it," said Kelsey Cooper, an RPK spokeswoman.  "Perhaps she isn't concerned with securing our borders or ensuring those who broke the law aren't entitled to federal benefits, but that's what Kentucky's Senators are focused on."

In a key procedural vote on Monday afternoon, McConnell voted against cloture, saying the immigration reform bill was flawed.

“From the outset of this debate, I have been clear about the fact that in order for a reform bill to succeed we would have to be able to prove to our constituents that the border would finally be secured," McConnell said in a statement released by his office.  "If we can’t guarantee that, anything else we do won’t be worth much. Unfortunately, the amendment we’re voting on today does not include that guarantee. Despite the hard work and best efforts of our colleagues, I remain concerned that when it comes to the threshold question of border security, today’s assurances may well become tomorrow’s disappointments. And that’s to say nothing of the process that got us here."

Grimes stopped to speak with WHAS11 while in Louisville to speak to the Kentucky Bar Association about, ironically, how to file for elected office.

Sources close to Grimes tell WHAS11 national Senate leaders are urging her to run, but Grimes is reaching out to Kentucky supporters to determine in which elected office she can make the biggest difference and put Kentucky families first.

Grimes has been mentioned as a potential candidate in a number of 2015 races, including re-election as Secretary of State in 2015, Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General.  The U.S. Senate seat held by potential presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) will be on the 2016 ballot, another potential future race for Grimes.

Grimes, however, is one of few prominent Kentucky Democrats who have not ruled out a challenge to McConnell, the longest serving U.S. Senator in Kentucky history.

"Right now, I am continuing to do that due diligence, continuing to gather the facts," Grimes said.