(Editor’s note: Shortly after being reelected November 6, Congressman John Yarmuth stated he would be “doing everything I can” to make sure Sen. Mitch McConnell loses his senate seat in 2014.)

Ask any self-loathing Kentucky Democrat what would possibly cause them to cast a vote for U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, and they’ll all probably tell you the same thing:

“He’s been in there for a long time and knows the ropes. He brings a lot of money back to Kentucky, you know.”

I first heard this explanation from a union member in 2002, as McConnell was racking up astonishing numbers against a hopeless challenger named Lois Combs Weinberg.

I had drawn the short straw and was working a phone bank in support of the union-endorsed Weinberg.

It did not go well.

The voters on the call list were friendly and non-combative. Most of them knew McConnell’s record and knew of his contempt for organized labor. But they understood winning with Weinberg was impossible, so they made excuses as to why they were going to swallow the bitter pill and vote to keep Mitch.

All the excuses were a variation on the above statement – that somehow, through his Senate seniority, McConnell was able to funnel millions back into a poor state with no other options.

Fast forward 10 years- little has changed.

The one thing that is different is that many in McConnell’s own party are now openly hostile to the idea of funneling federal funds back into Kentucky.

The “Era of the Earmark” is decidedly over, and how McConnell keeps his reputation for being a pack mule bearing wads of cash for Kentucky while being the face of fiscal responsibility and budget cuts will be a cunning stunt, indeed.

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Voters have notoriously short memories, and in today’s America most people are too busy trying to survive to pay attention. That leaves little time to investigate beyond the sound bites they may hear on the news.

Besides, that’s our job.

Here is a quick list of facts about Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr, Republican and senior Senator from Kentucky.

  • Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama.
  • Product of Jefferson County public school system and public universities.
  • Received an early discharge from U.S. Army Reserve for optic neuritis.
  • First elected to U.S. Senate in 1984.
  • Remains one of the country’s most powerful Republican lawmakers.
  • Maintains five district offices throughout the state.
  • Married to Elaine Chao, former Labor Secretary under President George W. Bush.
  • Criticized for his claim that “money is speech” in opposition to campaign finance reform.
  • Lauded for securing federal funding for riverfront parks from Ashland to Paducah.
  • Awarded the 2007 Fredrick Law Olmsted Award for Distinguished Leadership from the Trustees of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
  • Became a millionaire as an elected official. In 2010, McConnell was the 10th wealthiest senator.
  • Voted ‘yea’ on bank bailout bill.
  • Voted ‘yea’ on bankruptcy bill of 2006, making it harder for people to discharge debt in bankruptcy.
  • Ended the tobacco subsidy program.
  • Fought to preserve subsidies to oil companies.
  • Led record number of senate filibusters in 2012.
  • Stated goal: “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
  • Prolific fundraiser.
  • Ruthless campaigner.

While not an exhaustive list, it hits on the highs and lows of his career. McConnell has been in office for 28 years and has a long record.

This is the first of several posts about candidates for the 2014 U.S. Senate election in Kentucky.

We will post information on other candidates as they enter the race.

Stay tuned.

Brian Tucker is a lifelong Louisvillian. He is the founder of The Valley Report, and has been writing on Southwest Louisville's political environment for several years.


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