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McConnell Aims for Senate Majority in Covington Speech But Poll Shows Grimes in Lead

Covington is suddenly Ground Zero in the race for Kentucky's US Senate seat.

Thursday saw GOP challengers to incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Matt Bevin and Brad Copas, speak at the Kenton County Republican Party Spring Fling at the Radisson alongside McConnell's wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. McConnell spoke to the Covington Business Council on Friday as Bevin supporters held signs outside. Even Senator Rand Paul, who is not up for reelection until 2016, was in Covington on Friday, appearing at a private meeting in the RiverCenter towers.

On Sunday, both Bevin and likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes will be at Maifest.

The influx of candidates comes as the latest poll shows McConnell walloping Bevin in the primary but facing a tight battle with Grimes in November. The Courier-Journal/Herald-Leader/WHAS-TV Bluegrass Poll shows McConnell up on Bevin by a margin of 55-35% but trailing Grimes 43-42%, within the margin of error, making the general election look like a toss-up at this point.

Despite the possibility of facing his stiffest challenge in all of his six Senate races, McConnell said Friday that he wants a promotion from Minority Leader to Majority Leader next year. That would require a victory by McConnell and a handful of other candidates across the country to give the Republicans control of Congress's upper chamber.

"Do I enjoy being the defensive coordinator? Sure. But the offensive coordinator gets to call the plays," McConnell told the CBC monthly luncheon. "It's easier to score on offense than defense."

His speech included typical remarks from his campaign stops: President Barack Obama's "war on coal" and McConnell's perception that there are too many federal regulations. The Minority Leader said that he has been wrong about the president twice: thinking Obama would become more centrist after the 2010 midterm elections, and again after his reeelction in 2012.
 
"The biggest difference between President Obama and recent presidents we have had under divided government is what they chose to do after divided government was established," McConnell said.
 
"If the President wants to solve some of these big problems, my message to his, Mr. President, come to the political center and let's try to solve some of these intractable problems."
 

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Bevin supports outside McConnell's speech in Covington/RCN

McConnell also touched on the heroin problem in Northern Kentucky, an issue he raised during a hearing hosted by a Senate committee earlier this week in which called the region the nation's epicenter for heroin abuse.
 
"We're going to be working on increasing funding at the federal level," McConnell said. "It will require a greater emphasis from state government as well but you have got a lot of dedicated professionals here being swamped by the challenges. I don't want you to think it's only in Northern Kentucky. It isn't. But you have a huge problem here and we're acutely aware of it and are going to try to be helpful."
 
Bevin brings his bus into Covington's Maifest from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Mainstrasse Village. Following that, he and his family (wife and nine children) will be at his campaign's Florence office (8146 Mall Road) from 4 - 8 p.m.
 
Grimes will appear at Maifest at 2:30 p.m. near the 501 Main Building.
 
Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Top photo: McConnell greets local businessman Mer Grayson/RCN

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