- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014
Rural vote could be key in Kentucky Senate race

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (AP) - When Mitch McConnell knocked off an incumbent Democrat in a close race in 1984 to win his Senate seat, he did so because of voters in the cities of Louisville and Lexington.

If he is re-elected for a sixth term Tuesday, it will be rural voters like Jason Cox, a beef cattle farmer in Campbellsville, that send him back to Washington. That’s in part because rural areas in Kentucky have shifted to supporting Republicans as the GOP has tied state Democrats to the national party and president, who is deeply unpopular here.

Cox was a tobacco farmer who benefited from a multibillion-dollar tobacco buyout, which compensated tobacco growers and others for losing production quotas when the government’s price-support program ended a decade ago. The buyout was paid by an assessment on tobacco companies, and McConnell has ensured Kentucky farmers received their full payments each year.

“I don’t feel like we would have got one had it not been for Mitch McConnell,” Cox said. “I’ve got a wife and five children. It takes a lot to live.”

Over the years, McConnell’s dominance in rural Kentucky has kept him in office, something he jokes about by saying: the smaller the town, the better I do. This year, though, he is locked in the tightest race he has been in since 1984, and control of the Senate is at stake.

“Louisville and Lexington during the course of my career have become much more Democratic,” McConnell said. “The good news is most of the rest of Kentucky has become much more Republican.”


Bill Clinton tries to boost McConnell challenger

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton said Thursday the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky offers a stark contrast between Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes’ vision for shared prosperity and efforts to revive trickle-down economics to benefit Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wealthy supporters.

Clinton, who carried Kentucky twice in the 1990s in winning the White House, made his closing argument for Grimes - a family friend trying to deny McConnell a sixth Senate term. Clinton’s latest campaign appearance with Grimes drew hundreds of people to a plaza outside the Muhammad Ali Center.

Clinton said Grimes is still standing despite a barrage of Republican attacks. Grimes, who is Kentucky’s secretary of state, picked up on the same theme on the 40th anniversary of Ali’s epic victory over George Foreman in the heavyweight title bout known as the Rumble in the Jungle.

“Like Ali, who reached in to George Foreman and said, ‘Is that all you got,’ I say, ‘Is that all you got, Mitch?’” Grimes said.

McConnell’s campaign countered that Grimes would be an ally of President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in Kentucky, and that her support from Clinton and his wife, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, won’t disguise that.

“Six visits from different Clintons doesn’t change the fact that her first vote as a senator would be to empower the Obama agenda,” said McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore.


Chamber says cuts coming to Fort Campbell

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) - The head of the Christian County Chamber of Commerce says the Fort Campbell area should be prepared for budget cuts to happen at the military post on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.

Chamber President Marian Mason told The Kentucky New Era (https://bit.ly/1tWjVRDhttps://bit.ly/1tWjVRD ) that chamber members would be meeting with their counterparts in Clarksville, Tennessee after the elections next week to discuss a unified strategy of dealing with cutbacks at the Army post.

Mason and other met Thursday with members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. Mason says Hopkinsville, Clarksville and the surrounding area need to be prepared for the cuts.

The military is cutting back on size after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.



Rivals gear up for next round of Tenn. whiskey war

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The passage of several months since a heated legislative debate over the legal definition of Tennessee whiskey has done little to mellow the dispute between two global liquor giants and the growing number of craft distillers caught between them.

Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett on Thursday urged state lawmakers to stick with the state law enacted in 2013 that required any product labeled as Tennessee whiskey to be made from 51 percent corn, aged in new charred oak barrels, filtered through maple charcoal and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof.

Arnett said the law passed at the behest of Jack Daniel’s ensures minimum quality standards will be upheld now that the state has removed barriers to the foundation of more craft distilleries in the state.

“It has been understood for 150 years that this is what Tennessee whiskey is,” he said. “It’s only the fact that we’ve had a lot of new distillers coming that we feel like there needs to be some rules for the playground, if you will, just to keep everyone honest.”

Jack Daniel’s is owned by Louisville, Kentucky-based Brown Forman Corp., while George Dickel, which is made about 15 miles up the road, is owned by British liquor conglomerate Diageo.

Dickel is made by the traditional process laid out in the new state law, but Diageo has led the effort to revise or repeal those rules on arguments that they are unnecessary, could prove too restrictive in the event of a barrel shortage and stifle innovation.

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