There is grumbling in Frankfort and Washington, at least outside of the DSCC’s press office, about the state of the Grimes campaign and concerns about the lack of growth.
Four factors have stopped Democrats from pushing the panic button: 1. It is just still way too darn early for Kentuckians to care about an election just less than a year away. 2. Grimes is avoiding any lasting damage from her missteps. 3. In national media reports, Grimes is being hailed as a strong and sturdy challenger who excels on the stump. And 4. She outraised McConnell in her first quarterly report at the end of October.
The first two are undeniable and speak to just how much time and space Grimes has in front of her to find her footing as a candidate.
The third is risky for Grimes, clearly enjoying the national media spotlight and potentially risking complacency as she and her team have looked at poll numbers in the mid to low-40s as signs of support instead of the more likely result of dislike for McConnell.
But the fourth factor was key. Grimes raised more than $2.5 million in her first quarter as a candidate, out-raising the Senate minority leader, who came up with a personal best of $2.27 million.
While the triumph was near universally pronounced as an eye-popping sign of Grimes’s strength, it too could be misleading.
First and foremost, it ignores the $10 million McConnell still has in cash despite a shocking burn rate aimed at bruising Grimes and Bevin right out of the gate. Not to mention the cozy six degrees of separation two post-Citizens United groups—McConnell’s SuperPAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads—share with McConnell, beginning with former campaign manager and longtime ally Steven Law, who holds leadership positions with both groups.
If you’re a conservative giving to Crossroads next year, your money is going to Kentucky.
Mitch McConnell is mortally wounded and should have lost to Bruce Lunsford in 2008. But at some point, Grimes is going to have to at least pretend she's to the left of Mitch. So far that's not happening.
It really needs to.