FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes could be a strong challenger in next year's U.S. Senate race if she runs as a Washington outsider against both Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and President Barack Obama.
University of Kentucky political scientist Ernie Yanarella said if Grimes decides to get into the race she will have to set herself apart from Obama on coal, which has proven so influential in Kentucky politics.
That could be easy for Grimes. The United Mine Workers of America endorsed her for secretary of state in 2011. And numerous influential coal industry leaders gave her money, including Alliance Coal chief executive officer Joe Craft.
Heath Lovell, a mine executive who played a pivotal role in defeating former Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler last year, also contributed to Grimes.