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During her campaign, Grimes, currently Kentucky secretary of state, has promised to create jobs, fight for equal pay for women and for a higher minimum wage. coal production behind Wyoming and West Virginia.

Democrat Grimes fights the party label

"The people of Kentucky know who I am. They have spent millions on these false, negative ads about me and it has not made a difference," Grimes said on her bus after a day of rolling up and down mountainous roads for a series of coal country rallies.

By John Whitesides

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"I don't agree with the president's war on coal, I think it's wrong for Kentucky," Grimes said after a primary victory last week that set up her election fight against McConnell, the Senate Republican leader.

The state still prides itself on its coal history and voters in Appalachia blame the Obama administration's regulatory rules and its alliance with environmental groups dedicated to phasing out fossil fuels for coal's woes. Representative Nick Rahall, both of West Virginia, who also have criticized Obama's coal agenda to prove the sincerity of their break with the national party.

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On a recent bus tour through eastern Kentucky's battered coal country, Grimes repeatedly promised to fight the new environmental regulations and help attract new businesses to the counties hit hardest by coal's plight. She questioned how much McConnell had done to help.

Obama, who lost Kentucky by 22 percentage points in the 2012 election, has not visited Kentucky to support Grimes, and national Democratic groups so far have spent modestly on ads targeting Nike Air Max Original Price McConnell.

The fight in Kentucky echoes an argument playing out in Senate races in other conservative states such as Louisiana and Alaska, where Republicans claim their Democratic opponents will be a rubber stamp for an Obama agenda that imposes big government solutions on every problem.

political convenience. It's vital for political survival.

HARLAN, Kentucky, May 28 (Reuters) At campaign stops in the coal rich mountains of eastern Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes likes to say she embodies the words that frighten her Republican Senate opponent Mitch McConnell the most: "pro coal Democrat."

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Coal mines and preparation plants in eastern Kentucky laid off another 2,232 employees in 2013, leaving employment in the region's coalfields at 7,332 barely half of what it was in the summer of 2011, a recent state government report said.

Grimes said she would push for tax incentives to develop clean coal technology and work with other pro coal Senate Democrats like West Virginia's Joe Manchin to develop a comprehensive energy policy with room for coal.


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"My opponent is in this race because Barack Obama and Harry Reid want her in this race," McConnell said after beating a Tea Party backed businessman in the Republican primary.

That argument will be in the spotlight next week, when the administration unveils new regulations limiting carbon emissions for existing power plants that already have the coal industry and its political allies gearing up for Mens Nike Air Max 97 2017 Hyp Running Shoes

policy," she said. "I won't answer to the president."

The industry has been in decline for decades as technological improvements and low prices for coal's natural competitor, natural gas, have undermined jobs.

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"I will fight to make sure that coal has a long term place in our national energy Nike Air Max Trainers 2017

In response, McConnell rarely passes up the chance to utter the phrase "war on coal" and link Grimes to Obama and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, whose 2008 comment that "coal makes us sick" has made him deeply unpopular in Kentucky.

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"It makes someone like me very, very leery of Grimes," said Tim Birman of Harlan, a 38 year old single father who lost his coal mining job years ago and now drives to construction jobs in a nearby county.

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McConnell, she said, has been more interested in partisan politics during his 30 years in the Senate than in working on behalf of coal interests.

"We have lost thousands of good coal jobs on his watch, not mine. We have seen overburdensome regulations come into effect on his watch, not mine," she told about 50 voters at a Harlan community center. The scariest thing to McConnell, she said, was a "pro coal Democrat."

In one of the year's top Senate races, McConnell and his Republican allies have poured millions into Kentucky to link Grimes to President Barack Obama and what they call his "war on coal," betting that voters who blame Obama for a devastating wave of mine closures and job losses will not put a fellow Democrat in the Senate. Senate.

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"Obama and the Democrats have done so much to hurt the coal industry, it makes me question how trustworthy she can be."

The coal industry is still celebrated proudly in Kentucky. The most popular bumper sticker on trucks in Harlan County is still "If You Don't Like Coal, Don't Use Electricity," but the skeletons of abandoned mine operations and the high unemployment rates nearly 17 percent in Harlan in March are a testament to the industry's decline.

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Polls show Grimes and McConnell enter the general election campaign in a dead heat, giving Democrats hope of stealing a seat from Republicans in a year when they are desperately trying to hang on to their six seat Senate majority.

For Grimes and other coal country Democrats, embracing that label is more than a Nike Air Max 2014 Black

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