In Surprise, Poll Shows Grimes With Edge Over McConnell

That tactic, which Republicans nationwide have employed this year as Obama’s favorability ratings stay mired in the mid to upper 30s, has proved effective in other states. The GOP needs to flip six seats in the Senate to take control of the chamber — and make McConnell majority leader in the process — and most analysts believe the party will reach that mark if current trends continue through Election Day.

Still, the Kentucky race is among the closest in the nation in this mid-term election year, and will likely go down to the wire.

Trouble On Tape

Grimes has insisted she isn’t an Obama clone and will stand up to the president when his policies go against Kentuckians’ best interests.

But the Democrat and her campaign haven’t helped themselves in convincing voters of her sincerity. The Grimes’ camp was stung last week when a secretly recorded video was released showing local Democratic officials questioning Grimes’ commitment to coal. The tape was produced by conservative activist James O’Keefe.

On the tape, the videographer asks Democratic officials what Grimes’ intentions are regarding coal.

“If we can get her elected do you think she is going to do the right thing and she’s gonna try to wipe out that coal industry and go for better resources?” says the videographer, who was secretly documenting the encounter.

“I absolutely think she is,” responds Fayette County Democratic Party operative Gina Bess.

“She has to say that,” added Juanita Rodriguez of the Warren County Democratic Party. “But you know what? Politics is a game. You do what you have to do to get [elected]. … It’s a lying game unfortunately.”

McConnell’s campaign pounced once the video was released, calling the comments by Democrats “shocking” and clear evidence that Grimes won’t go to bat for Kentucky coal.

“The level of deception that Alison Grimes and her campaign engages in to appear pro-coal despite obvious opposition is both disturbing and dangerous," Moore said.

Grimes Responds

The Grimes camp fired back, calling O’Keefe a “discredited con artist,” and pointing out that no one on the tape works for Grimes or her campaign.

"The individuals in the video aren't on our staff,” said Grimes’ spokeswoman Charly Norton. “The United Mine Workers of America endorsed Alison because of her unwavering commitment to Kentucky coal miners. The fact that McConnell's campaign relies on a convicted criminal with a known history of absurd and deceptive projects is telling as McConnell attempts to make this race about anything but the loss of 25,000 coal jobs on his watch.”

O’Keefe, who has gained a reputation for secretly recording Democrats and liberals making embarrassing and contradictory comments, pleaded guilty in 2010 to a charge of entering federal property under false pretenses. The charge stemmed from an incident in which he and two other men secretly tried to record Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office.

Whether the tape costs Grimes voters remains to be seen, of course, but Skelley, the U.Va. analyst, isn’t sure it will make a difference one way or the other. He believes the environment that could lead to a GOP takeover of the Senate will push McConnell across the finish line first.

“Kentucky is a Republican state at the federal level,” he said . “[McConnell] may not be popular, but [he’s] a Republican in an environment favorable to his party in a state that doesn't like the president.”