Grimes, McConnell Welcome Clinton

One of the most closely watched Senate contests in the country is a race between Alison Lundergan Grimes and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — not, as Grimes likes to say, a race between McConnell and President Barack Obama.

Yet as much as Kentucky’s Democratic secretary of state tries to frame the contest on her own terms, she inevitably hands the longtime Republican incumbent with fodder to nationalize the race.

Grimes was trumpeting the arrival of former President Bill Clinton to campaign for her today.

So was McConnell.

The one word in common in these competing messages — coal — could be the key to how this election actually turns. McConnell accuses Grimes of putting her party’s interest in environmental controls over her state’s interest in mining coal. And how this race turns is a critical element of the Republican Party’s bid to pick up six states in November and with that control of the Senate. If they do, and hold Kentucky, McConnell is poised to become majority leader. If they lose Kentucky, they’ll need another pickup — and another leader.

Polls show the Grimes-McConnell contest running within the margin of error.

The Democrats say they have their own national message to tell there and elsewhere.

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