Grimes rocky rollout a purposeful ploy?


by Joe Arnold

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 3 at 10:27 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky (WHAS11) -- As the burgeoning U.S. Senate campaign of Alison Lundergan Grimes is ridiculed for its lack of preparedness at its launch, Democratic insiders with knowledge of the inner workings of her campaign suggest that Grimes purposely resisted building a campaign infrastructure until deciding Monday that she would enter the race.

By signaling she was ready to say, "No," Grimes may have created tremendous leverage as she and her advisers negotiated with national Democratic leaders, political organizations and donors to secure financial commitments.  Sources tell WHAS11 those negotiations continued into Monday, even as an adviser notified Kentucky media that Grimes would make a "statement" that day about the senate race.

"This has been a very exhausting day," admitted Grimes' father, the former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan after her announcement, "but it's turned out very well."
WHAS11 asked Lundergan what kind of assurances the Grimes campaign needed before jumping into the race.

"We needed a lot of 'i's' to dot and 't's' to cross," Lundergan said.  "And I think unlike other candidates who have ran for this office in the past, we just didn't step into it.  We wanted to make sure that when we got into it we could get into it and win."

If, leading up to the Monday afternoon news conference, Grimes intended for political observers to be unsure of her decision, she was successful.

The hastily arranged event started about a half-hour behind schedule with no signs to proclaim a U.S. Senate campaign, just a banner left over from her 2011 Secretary of State race.  In the bank of microphones before her, one was propped inside a roll of toilet paper.  Grimes has no active campaign website nor facebook page.  With no place for supporters to make campaign donations, some people asked on Internet message boards where they could send a contribution.

A Grimes' adviser, Jonathan Hurst, explained it would violated federal election law to launch a campaign website and take more than $5000 in donations before filing for the race with the U.S. Senate clerk.

Hurst said the Monday event was not Grimes' big announcement, and only revealed that she "intends" to run, in part to quell rampant speculation about the race in the three months since Actress Ashley Judd removed her name from consideration.

"I think that you will see later this month a rollout, official announcements and where she will move across the state," Hurst said.

Republicans are laughing, calling it the worst campaign rollout ever.  The McConnell campaign released two web videos on Tuesday, including one purported to be an ad Grimes might run.

“We hate to see someone flounder so badly, so we decided to give Alison a helping hand,” said McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton.

The ad's auto-tuned theme song suggests several phrases that rhyme with "Alison Lundergan Grimes:" “left-wing mime,” “sticks to party line,” and “not ready for prime time.”

A second video uses footage from the Monday announcement to highlight what Grimes was lacking. 

Calling the videos "silly," Hurst predicted Kentucky voters would see through them and clamor for substantive issues. Hurst also pointed out that in the original video's end disclaimer, McConnell's name was mispelled.