Republicans are seeking to re-elect Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who would be in line to lead the Senate next year if he wins a sixth term and his party also makes a net gain of six seats. Democrats portraying McConnell as an obstructionist are determined to replace him with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The national focus on the Kentucky race is clear from the donor lists of McConnell and Grimes, who raised more than $5 million between them in the first quarter. Grimes took in more during the three-month period, $2.7 million to $2.4 million, while McConnell led in available cash-on-hand, $10.4 million to $4.9 million.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana, and Saban Capital Group chairman Haim Saban, a prominent Democratic donor to Democratic candidates and causes, were among Grimes’s donors in the first quarter.
The entertainment industry has been a source of campaign funds for Grimes’s campaign, which got a donation from actress Zooey Deschanel in the first quarter.
Grimes’s Kentucky-based donors included former governor Brereton Jones, former state auditor Crit Luallen and former Kentucky secretary of state John Y. Brown III.
McConnell’s first-quarter donors included Ken Starr, the former U.S. solicitor general who’s now president of Baylor University; former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean; Ken Chenault, chief executive officer of American Express Co.; Jeffrey Bornstein, the chief financial officer of General Electric Co.; billionaire Henry Kravis, the co-chairman of buyout firm KKR & Co.; and John Schnatter, the founder of Louisville-based Papa John’s International Inc.
McConnell is opposed in the Republican primary by Matt Bevin, who’s running to the senator’s right and is backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund.