By SARAH CORNETT – EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
This November the Kentucky polls will play host to one of the most discussed, publicized, and expensive Senate elections in the country. While incumbent Mitch McConnell seeks to return to his prominent position as the Senate Minority Leader for the Republican Party, current Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes represents the Democratic Party in one of the most important Senate races of the decade.
“Alison Grimes’s passion is what strikes voters, but Mitch McConnell’s experience may be what wins the election,” senior Caroline Snell. Under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Politics Dr. Benjamin Knoll, Snell spent the summer researching and studying the Kentucky Senate Election.
With McConnell voters see an experienced political force and with Grimes voters are drawn to the idea of a young leader with fresh ideas.
“The strongest thing Mitch has going for him is that he is a 30 year incumbent, in KY historically we elect republicans at the national level, and his leadership position as the minority leader, potentially as the majority leader after this election, is significant for KY. Mitch’s weaknesses are that he has a harder time relating to the younger voter and in the recent success of Kyect he has had to back off of his stance on certain issues,” Snell said.
“Grimes strengths are that she is a fresh face, she has been received well as KY Secretary of State, and she has a much better voter base among the younger voter. Her main weakness is that she has a hard time taking a strong stance on issues. She continually dodges questions which makes it hard for the KY voter to know for what she stands.”
In addition to two polarized candidates, the upcoming election also features several important issues: minimum wage, coal, and student loan debt reforms.
The current discussion surrounding the state’s minimum wage is focused on raising the pay from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. Grimes is fully supporting raising the minimum wage as part of her plan to get “hard-working Kentuckians back to work.” However, McConnell stands in sharp opposition to the idea and filibustered a bill to increase the minimum wage in late April of this year.
Another hot-topic in the election surrounds coal mining and its application to Kentucky jobs. Grimes settled herself as very pro-coal and continues to tell the press of plans to protect coal miners and create new national energy policies with a prominent role for coal. McConnell also worries about the possible loss of many Kentucky jobs, but focuses less of working with the current administration to settle on a plan.
Student Loan Debt
On average, Kentucky students carry loan debt of over $20,000. With legislation being introduced in the Senate that would allow new student borrowers to obtain a federally subsidized Stafford loan at 0.75 percent, all students should be well educated on the student loan discussion.
For Grimes, it is important to work with the Federal Government to lower loan rates inside of Kentucky, while McConnell stands firm that the Federal Government should not, “be in the business of forgiving, in effect, obligations owed.”
As November 4 draws closer, Snell urges Centre students to vote and gives a few pieces of advice to first-time voters.
“Vote the issue, not the party. Find something for which you are really passionate and vote for the candidate stand for that,” Snell said. “At our age, we need to develop our stance on the issues before we entrench ourselves in deep partisanship.”