Recess Report: Where Key Candidates Actually Stand On Critical Issues - Part 1

Erin Carson, Lead Analyst Sunday October 26th 2014

According to a recent PEW Research report, the GOP is leading on many issues considered critical to Midterm voters. These top issues, detailed in recent VoteTocracy reports, include the economy, health care, immigration, the threat of a terrorist attack, and social issues; among other more second-tier regional and niche concerns, such as energy and oversight of the Obama Administration.

The following two-part series provides a midterm cheat sheet for critical Senate races -- a  breakdown of where incumbents and their challengers actually stand on top critical issues, with evidence from campaign quotes, funding sources, and legislative histories. 

This week focuses on candidates in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Kentucky. Part 2, which will be issued on Nov. 3, will drill down on candidates in Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and South Dakota.

Alaska

Critical issues in Alaska race: 

Alaska has been a traditionally Republican state, but Sen. Mark Begich (D) is hoping to use local issues to his advantage in the midterms. However, health care has been the top overall issue discussed in the Alaska Senate race. According to Open Secrets, the top outside organizations contributing either for or against campaigns have been Put Alaska First ($8,941,328), the conservative SuperPAC American Crossroads ($3,309,971), and the League of Conservation Voters ($2,690,106).

Biggest point of candidate divergence:

 The biggest point of contention has been reforming the Affordable Care Act and the rising cost of health care in Alaska. Fairbanks, Juneau, Kodiak, and Anchorage have the highest average health costs in the United States. While Republican challenger, Alaska’s Attorney General Dan Sullivan places the blame for rising health care costs on the changes made by the Affordable Care Act, the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Mark Begich, embraces the ACA and supports his vote for it, although he says it could be improved.

Incumbent: Sen. Mark Begich (D)

Health Care

Stated position: 

“The Affordable Care Act has helped the 37 percent of Alaskans who were uninsured before the law passed get access to health-care. About 15,000 people would lose their insurance if Sullivan and Republican leaders have their way in repealing the law. The issue of health-care is a tough call. This is private insurance companies, but we made sure that they had quality health-care that was offered to Alaskans and people across this country, so people have choices.”

Funding:

According to Open Secrets, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent $1,384,000 supporting Sen. Begich and $3,704,008 opposing Republican challenger Dan Sullivan.

Legislation:

12 of Sen. Begich’s 81 sponsored bills during the 113th Congress were related to health care, including S. 1729, the Expanded Consumer Choice Act, which would amend the Affordable Care Act to provide further options under qualified plans.

Challenger: Dan Sullivan (R)

Health Care

Stated position:

“President Obama and Senator Begich have fundamentally changed the American healthcare system for the worse through ObamaCare. Now, as a result of Begich’s decision to cast the deciding vote for ObamaCare, Alaskans are losing their healthcare and facing skyrocketing premiums…. As Alaska’s Attorney General, Dan sued to stop ObamaCare. He will continue that fight as your U.S. Senator. It is time to repeal and replace ObamaCare and empower Alaskans to make their own healthcare decisions, not the federal government.” Sulivan2014.com

Funding: 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has contributed $4,189,999 directly to Dan Sullivan’s campaign. The SuperPAC American Crossroads has spent $2,983,537 opposing Sen. Begich and $326, 434 supporting Dan Sullivan. The SuperPAC Alaska’s Energy/America’s Values has contributed $777, 802 to Dan Sullivan.

Arkansas 

Critical issues in Arkansas race:

 Federal spending, healthcare and social issues including abortion are the key issues in Arkansas Senate race which pits incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D) against challenger Rep. Tom Cotton (R).  The Affordable Care Act and Pryor's continued support for the ACA remains the major issue in the race leading up to the final weeks of the election. According to data from OpenSecrets, a majority of the political action committee or PAC funds spent in the race have been from major Democrat and Republican Senate leadership PACs.  Top issue based PACs giving to the race have all either been given to challenger Rep. Tom Cotton or spent on his behalf, these PACs include: the Freedom Partners Action Fund ($2,652,420) and the NRA ($2,577,763).

Biggest point of candidate divergence:  

 The Arkansas Senate race has been largely defined by federal spending issues, such as Rep. Cotton’s support for the fall 2013 government shutdown and Sen. Mark Pryor’s continued support for the Affordable Care Act.

Incumbent : Sen. Mark Pryor (D)

Federal Spending and the Economy

Stated Position:

 “We’ve made great strides when it comes to our economy, but there’s more we can do to encourage our small and large businesses alike to grow and thrive.”

Funding:

 Sen. Pryor has received nearly $13 M in support from a combination of Senate Democratic Leadership PACs and the Patriot Majority USA PAC, these groups largely support Pryor’s views on economic growth.

Legislation: 

Senator Mark Pryor believes in expanding jobless benefits for the chronically unemployed, S.1845 - Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act,  and supports increasing the federal minimum wage.  Pryor supported modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures and supported the federal stimulus packages to help the economy.  Pryor also supports the Congressional pay-as-you-go provisions to curb federal spending.

Pryor sponsored S.2681, Keep Jobs in America Act and S.2680 Buy it in America Act and  S.2682 Made in the U.S.A. Act to further support these goals.

Health Care

Stated Position: 

Sen. Pryor stated in a local Arkansas television station interview that he would support the ACA again: “You know I would have,” Pryor said on K-ARK. “I think on something like this it’s big, it’s complicated, it’s difficult, so if you get 80 percent of it right you’ve really done something. We probably did get 80 percent of it right.”

Senator Pryor voted for and continues to support the Affordable Care Act and has released two campaign ads touting the ability of 200,000 Arkansans obtaining insurance through the ACA.

Funding: 

Sen. Pryor has received $228,500 in support from the American Hospital Association, a non partisan PAC.

Legislation:

 Sen. Pryor has introduced a number of bills to support medical screening and protect Medicare including: S.2087 Medicare Protection Act.  Pryor also co-sponsored S.1642 Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Actto help individuals keep insurance they were enrolled in by December 31, 2013.  

Social Issues, Abortion and Contraception

Stated Position:

“Women in Arkansas know they have a senator on their side. Mark Pryor has always been a champion for basic fairness, like ensuring women earn the same paycheck for doing the same work as a man, because Mark knows that when women succeed in the workplace it benefits all Arkansans.” www.pryorforsenate.com 

Funding:

 Sen. Pryor has a low NARAL Pro-Choice America rating and therefore has not received any funds from NARAL or related groups whose primary purpose is to support abortion rights. The Patriot Majority USA PAC has spent more than $3 M campaigning against Rep. Cotton, the Patriot Majority USA PAC is a Democratic PAC which supports choice.

Legislation:

 Senator Mark Pryor supports choice and access to family planning and abortion services, however he has supported some legislation to restrict certain abortion access including partial birth abortions and a law that notifies parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions.  Pryor supported the S.47  Violence Against Women Act reauthorization and supports gender equality issues such as the gender pay equity, in the form of theS.2199 Paycheck Fairness Act and 2009’s Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Challenger Rep. Tom Cotton (R)

Federal Spending

Stated Position:

 “Our country faces a debt crisis because of Washington’s reckless spending and borrowing. The federal debt is now $15 trillion, the size of the entire American economy. The first step to fiscal sanity is passing a Balanced Budget Amendment.” (http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/Tom_Cotton.htm#Health_Care)

Congressman Cotton opposes many forms of federal spending including increasing the debt ceiling and any form of federal stimulus.  Cotton would vote to have a balanced budget amendment included in the Constitution.  Cotton has signed several conservative pledges which outline his economic views.  Cotton has signed The Contract from America, clause 3 to Demand a Balanced Budget and clause 6 to End Runaway Government Spending.   

Funding:

 Rep. Cotton has received support from a number of high profile conservative PACs that support the same spending goals as Cotton. These groups include The Freedom Partners Association Fund ($2,652,420) and the Crossroads PAC ($1,995,573).

Health Care

Stated Position:

“I will always fight against unconstitutional laws like ObamaCare.”(http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/Tom_Cotton.htm#Health_Care)

Legislation:

 Cotton has not sponsored or co-sponsored any specific legislation to repeal the ACA but he has voted on a number of bills to reform or repeal portions of the ACA.  Cotton also supported the fall 2013 Government Shutdown, which was a move by House Republicans to make the President push back the ACA individual mandate by one year.

Funding: 

Rep. Cotton has received support from a number of high profile conservative PACs which also support repealing the ACA. These groups include The Freedom Partners Association Fund ($2,652,420)  and the Crossroads PAC ($1,995,573).

 

Social Issues, Abortion and Contraception

Stated Position:

“We must re-establish a culture of life in America that reflects the value of every life from conception through birth, life, and death. I am pro-life and I will always vote that way in Congress.”(http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/Tom_Cotton.htm#Health_Care)

Funding:

 The National Right to Life PAC, a group opposed to abortion, has contributed over $33,000 to Cotton’s campaign. A number of other large conservative PACs who also oppose abortion have spent several million dollars supporting Cotton and attacking Pryor.

Legislation: 

Congressman Cotton supports legislation such as the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act to curb abortion access.  Cotton also co-sponsoredH.R.61 : Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, to prohibit any family planning funds to be spent at providers that also have abortion services.  Cotton also opposes stem cell research.  Cotton co-sponsored H.R.7 : No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2014.

Colorado

Critical issues in Colorado race:

 The big issues in Colorado’s midterm campaigns have thus far focused on women’s social issues, including abortion and access to contraception. However, some analysts say that these issues have been overplayed in Colorado, and energy and environment issues are of greater importance.  According to data from OpenSecrets, top campaign contributions to the Colorado races have been from Crossroads GPS, a conservative 501c ($8,618,289); NextGen Climate Action, a liberal SuperPAC ($6,570,794); and the National Rifle Association, a conservative PAC ($3,724,275).

Biggest point of candidate divergence: 

The Colorado race has largely revolved around women’s issues, with the Democratic incumbent Mark Udall charging his Republican challenger for being out of touch and for supporting a “personhood” amendment that would ban contraception. In recent days, political analysts have said that the strategy might have backfired on Udall, and the outcome of the race could largely come down to energy and environment issues, such as hydraulic fracturing and climate change.

Incumbent - Sen. Mark Udall (D)

Energy

Stated position:

  “I support putting a price on carbon. There are a lot of mechanisms that ought to be revenue neutral. We could do it in a way that middle class working Americans are actually lifted by.” C-SPAN coverage of Oct. 6 Senate debate

“Reducing our reliance on foreign oil and curbing the effects of climate change have long been priorities of mine, and I'm working in the Senate to create a plan to tackle these important goals. To do so, we will need an all-of-the-above strategy that includes all of our energy sources, with a special emphasis on those that are clean and domestic. That means focusing on everything from renewable energy and energy efficiency to natural gas and safe nuclear power.”  MarkUdall.Senate.gov

Legislation:

 During the 113th Congress, 6 of 39 bills sponsored by Sen. Udall were related to energy issues. The following three bills aim to advance natural gas production and export:

S. 2494, Natural Gas Export Production Act of 2014 (stalled in Committee); 

S. 2274 – a bill to expedite applications for authorization to export natural gas (stalled in Committee);

S. 2083 – American Job Creation and Strategic Alliances LNG Act (stalled in Committee).

The following three bills address energy information and energy technologies:

S. 2165 - E-ACCESS Act (stalled in Committee)  

S. 1261 - Energy Efficient Government Technology Act (stalled in Committee)

S. 1084 - Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act of 2013 (stalled in Committee)

Funding:  

 NextGen Climate Action, a SuperPAC addressing climate change, has spent $157,410 supporting Mark Udall’s campaign, and $6,413,384 opposing Cory Gardner.  

 

Social Issues

Stated Position:  

According to MarkUdall.com: “Mark respects Colorado women and trusts them to make the right decisions for themselves and their families. Access to contraception and family planning services aren’t election-year gimmicks, they’re fundamental rights that we must protect. He will always stand up for a woman’s right to choose and fight to expand access to contraception.”

Legislation:

 None of Udall’s sponsored or co-sponsored bills addressed the issues of abortion, contraception, gay marriage, or gun rights. He voted against banning partial term abortions in 2000 (H.R. 3660) and 2003 (S.3). Udall supported S. 2199 - The Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to provide equal pay for women in the workplace.

Funding:

 According to Open Secrets, Planned Parenthood has spent $332,925 supporting Mark Udall’s campaign, and $731,272 opposing Rep. Cory Gardner.

Challenger - Rep. Cory Gardner (R)

Energy

Stated Position:

 “I have always advocated for an “all of the above” approach to energy.  That includes development of traditional energy resources, renewable resources and even nuclear power.”  Gardner.House.Gov

“There is no doubt pollution contributes to climate changes around us, but what I refuse to do is support a climate tax bill, like Waxman-Markey put in place, that would’ve cost farmers and ranchers in this state over $5,000 per sprinkler, that would cost small businesses the opportunity to grow, that would increase the bills that families pay $1,700 a year.”  C-SPAN coverage of Oct. 6 Senate debate

Legislation: 

 4 of the 200 bills sponsored by Rep. Gardner during the 113th Congress specifically addressed energy issues, including the omnibus package H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, which passed the House in June 2014.  The other energy bills were:

H.R. 5057 - EPS Service Parts Act of 2014 (Passed House in September 2014)

H.R. 3587 - Utility Energy Service Contracts Improvement Act of 2013 (Stalled in Committee)

H.R. 2689 - Energy Savings Through Public-Private Partnerships Act of 2013 (Stalled in Committee)

Funding: 

 Crossroads GPS has spent $8,618,289 opposing Mark Udall, and in so doing supporting Rep. Cory Gardner’s campaign. Crossroads GPS advocates “heightened scrutiny of corrupt ‘green energy’ giveaways…,approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and energy-rich fracking.”

Social Issues

Stated Position - 

 “What’s the difference between me and Mark Udall on contraception? I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock, without a prescription — cheaper and easier, for you. Mark Udall’s plan is different. He wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your healthcare plan. That means more politics, and more profits for drug companies. My plan means more rights, more freedom, and more control for you — and that’s a big difference.”

 -TV Ad posted online at DenverPost.com

Funding: 

 According to Open Secrets, the National Right to Life PAC has contributed $137,848 to Rep. Gardner’s campaign. Other pro-life conservative funding organizations include Tea Party Express ($105,857), Focus on the Family ($87,291), and CatholicVote.org ($10,000).

Legislation: 

Rep. Gardner was a co-sponsor to H.R. 1091 - Life at Conception Act, which would “implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person.”  The bill defines “human person” from the moment of fertilization.”  Gardner voted in support of H.R. 1797 - the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which passed the House in June 2013.

Iowa

Critical issues in Iowa race:

 The Iowa Senate race has been dominated by social issues, specifically abortion and women’s health issues.  The Affordable Care Act and the economy are also top issues in this open Senate race which features Rep. Bruce Braley (D) against State Sen. Joni Ernst (R). According to OpenSecrets the American Crossroads PAC and NextGen Climate Action PAC are the two top, non political party PACs contributing to the Iowa Senate race.  Conservative PAC American Crossroads has spent nearly $5M in support of Joni Ernst and in opposition to Bruce Braley.  Democrat leaning NextGen Climate Action PAC has spent $4.3M in support of Bruce Braley and in opposition to Joni Ernst.

Biggest point of candidate divergence:  

 The Iowa Senate race is a true toss up and emotions in the race are running high.  In the final weeks of the too close to call campaign the most dominant issue is abortion and women’s issues.  Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is touting his support of choice and access to family planning with his opponent State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has been tied to personhood legislation and a desire to eliminate nearly all abortion access.

Rep. Bruce Braley (D)

Health care

Stated Position:

“All Iowans deserve quality, affordable healthcare that provides families with health security. Iowans can’t afford to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny people insurance based on pre-existing conditions, or kick people off their insurance when they got sick, or increase premiums with no justification.

“But too much time is being wasted by people using the new healthcare law to score political points. That’s why Bruce Braley’s view is common sense: we need to fix the problems the new healthcare law and improve the law to make it work for Iowa families. That’s why Bruce crossed the party divide to support legislation that would allow Iowans to keep their insurance, and why he’s working everyday to make improvements that help Iowans.” www.brucebraley.com 

Funding:

 Rep. Braley  has received funding from a number of health care related PACs including: the American College of Radiology ($150,088) and the American Hospital Association ($263,830), both of which are non partisan PACs.

Job Creation

Stated Position:

“Representing Iowa in Congress since 2007, Bruce has worked to promote policies that strengthen and expand the middle class and help create the environment for job creation. Among Bruce’s accomplishments: Bruce wrote a tax cut for businesses that hire unemployed workers, helping an estimated 100,000 Iowans get back to work. He worked to create a job training program for Iowans who wanted to get new jobs in the field of renewable energy. Bruce brought Democrats and Republicans together to reverse government regulations that threatened jobs in Marshalltown. And he protected Iowa farms by working across party lines to help pass a new Farm Bill.

Protecting the right to organize for better and safer working conditions is important to Bruce. He took a strong stance against attempts to curb collective bargaining rights and has voted for legislation in Congress to improve worker safety in numerous fields of work.” www.brucebraley.com 

Funding:

 Rep. Braley supports unions as a means of job creation, and he has received support from a number of unions including the AFT Solidarity Fund a teachers PAC ($94,994); the American Federation of State/County/Municipal Employee Union PAC ($314,019) and the SEIU ($354,967).

Legislation:

 Braley is a co-sponsor of H.R.1010 Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 which raises the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and H.R.4415 Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014 to extend benefits to the chronically unemployed.

Abortion

Stated Position:

 “Bruce also believes that Roe vs. Wade is settled law, and that important medical decisions are best made by women and their doctors.”www.brucebraley.com 

Funding:

 Braley is a pro-choice candidate and has received funding from women’s groups including Planned Parenthood Votes ($511,716) and NARAL Pro-Choice America ($5,993).

Legislation:  

Braley co-sponsored H.R.5051 Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014 a bill to ban corporations from filing for exemptions in providing women with covered contraception and H.R.3137 Women's Health Protection Act of 2013 to protect women’s access to family planning and abortion services.

State Sen. Joni Ernst (R)

Health care

Stated Position:

“Joni is staunchly opposed to the Obamacare law.  Joni supports immediate action to repeal Obamacare and replace it with common sense, free-market alternatives that put patients first, and health care decisions back in the hands of each of us rather than Washington bureaucrats.”  www.joniforcongress.com  

Funding:

 State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) is opposed to the Affordable Care Act and has received support from groups also opposed to the ACA including the American Crossroads PAC ($4,958,796) and the Americans for Prosperity PAC ($250,954).

Job Creation

Stated Position:

“Joni supports pro-growth tax and economic policies that will unleash the full potential of America’s free market economy and create new, better paying jobs so that more of our neighbors have jobs to go to each day in order to support their families. Joni believes the free market is the greatest job creating machine ever built, but only when the government gets out of the way. She supports rolling back Washington-created job-killing regulations that are crushing small business.” www.joniforcongress.com 

Funding:

 Joni Ernst supports eliminating taxes on businesses as a means of job creation and has therefore received support from similarly aligned groups such as the Americans for Tax Reform PAC ($85,000) and the American Crossroads PAC ($4,958,796).

Abortion

Stated Position:

“Joni believes life begins at conception, that all innocent life is precious, and that we must cherish and protect the unborn.” www.joniforiowa.com  

Funding:

 Ernst is firmly anti-abortion and has received support from the Susan B. Anthony List PAC ($347,952).

Kansas

Critical issues in Kansas race:

 Kansas is a highly conservative state and its midterm elections have been cast as a referendum on the longtime but somewhat removed incumbent or change via an Independent with conservative values. Key issues include government spending, agriculture, and the economy.

 Sen. Roberts (R) is the incumbent with a long tenure representing Kansas, which has been a highly conservative state that leans red. Greg Orman, the front runner against Senator Pat Roberts, is running as an Independent in a race that most experts agree is too close to call. While Orman had been leading over the incumbent by about 10 points, by the end of the summer that lead narrowed to within the margin of error in many polls.

Biggest point of candidate divergence:

 While the midterms have been a referendum on the Obama administration, the Orman campaign has cast the Kansas midterms as a referendum on Sen. Roberts tenure. Despite having served 16 years in the House, followed by almost 18 years in Senate, Sen. Roberts is fairly unpopular and took a beating during the primaries from his Tea Party challenger. The incumbent has been painted as a big spending Washington politician out of touch with the values of his home state. The attacks around government spending has made the Roberts campaign weary of playing up some of his accomplishments, such as crop insurance support for farmers. A new campaign team for Roberts used large amounts of money to make rival Greg Orman at least as unlikeable as the incumbent. Going negative appears to have closed Orman's lead in the polls; the two candidates now appear to be neck in neck.

Incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R)

Stated Position:

 “Pat Roberts not only wants to cut bloated federal spending, he has introduced and passed bills that save the taxpayer billions of dollars. He has fought against out-of-control government spending by repeatedly voting against corporate bailouts and stimulus plans. Roberts is a long-time champion for a balanced budget amendment. He understands that Kansas families have to live within their means. So too should the federal government. Pat Roberts has made the hard choices on spending and provides tough, tested leadership and fiscal responsibility to preserve our country and way of life for future generations of Americans.” -RobertsforSenate.com

Legislation:

 Sen. Roberts has sponsored 27 bills, which covered agriculture, jobs and health care, including:

S.677 - Crop Insurance Improvement Act Of 2013

S.1920 - Innovators Job Creation Act

S.2064 - Four Rationers Repeal Act Of 2014

Funding:

 According to OpenSecrets.org, Sen. Roberts campaign had raised $4.7 million as of July 2014. According to data on campaign funds, Sen. Roberts raised $1.6 million dollars over the the 2012 election cycle, with the greatest contributions coming from the agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare and financial industries.

Challenger Greg Orman (I)

Stated Position:

“Washington is broken, and we all know it. The news headlines remind us every day that Congress no longer works for us, the American people. Partisan extremism and political dysfunction have paralyzed our nation’s capital, with Members of the House and Senate from both parties more interested in their own reelection and hold on power than the public interest.

But there’s a path we can choose this November right here in Kansas that will force Washington to act on our behalf. It starts with electing leaders of courage and conviction who are committed to enacting key reforms that will fundamentally change the influence of special interests on Congress.

Toward that end, I’ve developed a Congressional Reform Plan that I believe will have a dramatic effect on the way Washington operates. My Plan includes the following four elements: (1) Enact a constitutional amendment creating term limits; (2) An end to congressional pensions; (3) A lifetime ban on lobbying for Members of Congress; and (4) Elimination of Leadership PACs.” OrmanforSenate.com

Funding: 

 Greg Orman had raised $2.3 million as of September 2014.

Kentucky 

Critical issues in Kentucky race:

 The Kentucky midterm elections have been dominated by issues around women, working wages, and the coal industry. Alison Lundergan Grimes is the front runner against Senator and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky midterm elections, which the Sunlight Foundation estimates is the fourth most expensive midterm election in the country with over $59 million in political spending. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has managed to hold onto a small lead in the polls, and in the last few days he may have gained some momentum as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee recently stopped paying for TV ads.

Biggest point of candidate divergence:

 The economy and job creation has been the biggest point of divergence in this campaign, despite the press on women’s issues. The Grimes campaign, which has tried to distance itself from the current administration, recently suffered from awkward refusals to answer questions about whether she voted for President Obama. Further, her position on energy and support for coal may be somewhat undermined by her party affiliation. Additionally, her attempt to cast herself as an advocate for women has not resulted in a gender gap between the candidates in the polls. While Grimes got some traction out of her attacks on McConnell's votes against raising the minimum wage, the McConnell campaign has recently hit back with charges of low wages at a business run be a Grimes family member.  

Incumbent Sen. MItch McConnell (R)

Stated positions:

 “The Senate Republicans promised the American people we would vote to repeal Obamacare, and we have done that. But this fight isn’t over. We intend to continue the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare with sensible reforms that would lower the cost of American health care, like medical malpractice, like selling insurance across state lines. This fight isn’t over, so I hope you’ll stay in the fight with us.” McConnell.senate.gov

Legislation: 

Sen. McConnell has sponsored 25 bills, which included legislation covering the coal industry, workplace conditions and verterans’ healthcare:

S. 2414 - Coal Country Protection Act

S. 1514 - Saving  Coal Jobs Act of 2013

S. 1626 - Family Friendly And Workplace Flexibility Act Of 2013

S. 2488 - Working Parents Home Office Act

S.1662 - Veterans Health Care Improvement Act Of 2013

Funding:

 The nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation estimates that Kentucky is the fourth most expensive midterm election in the country with over $59 million in political spending. According to OpenSecrets.org, Sen. McConnell reported raising $27 million as of September 2014.  According to data on campaign funds, Sen. McConnell raised $8.3 million dollars over the 2012 election cycle, with the greatest contributions coming from the agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare and financial industries.

Challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes (D)

Stated Positions:

 “As a Senator, my number one priority will be putting Kentuckians back to work in good-paying jobs. Kentuckians lost more than 118,000 jobs at the worst part of the recession and they are still struggling to provide for their families. Mitch McConnell failed to put Kentuckians back to work. To increase family incomes, I will work to ensure that all Kentuckians and all Americans can earn a living wage for their work, and make sure that women get equal pay for the same work as men.” AlisonforKentucky.com

Funding:

 Front runner Alison Grimes reported raising $16 million as of September 2014.