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Reprinted from The State Journal, Frankfort, through the Kentucky Press News Service.
What could we do with $100 million?
And by “we,” we the editorial board mean we the people of Kentucky.
We could repair a lot of roads, and anyone who has driven across the commonwealth knows how badly we need to do that. In fact, drive anywhere in the country and you will see just as many roads under construction.
We could give it all to the Kentucky Retirement Systems, which is both woefully underfunded and highly depended on by former and current state employees (and others).
We could disburse it to the state’s public colleges and school systems, all having received less from the state in recent years and desperately in need of funds.
We, the editorial board, ask this question of what to do with $100 million, not just because we, the citizens of the commonwealth, could use such a windfall.
We ask it because it is possible Sen. Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes, the two candidates who wish to represent us in Washington, D.C., are involved in a race that will spend that collective amount before the November election.
Notice we didn’t say McConnell and Grimes will raise $100 million. They will likely raise $60-70 million. The remainder will come from the national party coffers, PACS and super PACS.
We understand from those who follow such things that our race in Kentucky will not only be the most expensive 2014 campaign, but the most expensive Senate campaign ever. Yes, ever.
The current record on spending, $82 million, was set just two years ago when Democrat Elizabeth Warren defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
Prior to that, $70 million was spent on the race that elected Hillary Rodham Clinton to her New York Senate seat. Clinton garnered 55 percent of the vote against Rick Lazio in 2000.
McConnell, as minority leader, is working feverishly to help his party gain control. Because of that goal, he can raise as much as he needs.
Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, is running against perhaps the most brazen and determined member of the Senate. Because of that, she can raise as much as she needs.
Control of the Senate is at stake. The money will freely flow because of that.
There also is a distinct contrast in candidates for donors to associate with.
McConnell has been in the Senate 30 years. Grimes is 35 years old.
McConnell is a Washington power broker. Grimes is a newcomer.
McConnell is against anything President Obama is in favor of.
Grimes will distance herself from many of Obama’s policies.
On his blog, veteran Washington reporter David Hawkings points out something else at stake — should Grimes unseat McConnell, he would become the first senator since the mid-’70s to spend eight years as minority floor leader without ever becoming majority floor leader.
So, there is much more on the line than just representing us in the Senate. There are things at stake that make it possible this race will be the first to top $100 million in spending.
Election day is Nov. 4, thus we must suffer through five more months of political ads to convince us which way to vote.
As of May 20, there were 3,105,349 registered voters in Kentucky.
Let’s suffer through together, and think of how we could have spent $100 million.