Democratic state lawmakers representing Eastern Kentucky are coming to the defense of U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, saying Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell has failed the coal industry.The comments come as Grimes is being pilloried by Republicans after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked a bill McConnell proposed to ease federal regulations on coal operators.An industry leader questioned if Grimes could stand up to Reid or the Obama administration.But state representatives from coalfield areas in the state argue it's McConnell who hasn't done enough to help the struggling industry.From the Grimes campaign: "You will not find a stronger advocate than I am for our coal miners and the communities they call home," says state Rep. Leslie Combs, who r epresents parts of Harlan, Letcher, and Pike Counties. "Mitch McConnell has been in Washington for 30 years, yet he has let Kentucky's greatest industry die on his watch. He likes to tout his leadership in the Senate and on coal. If Senator McConnell has been such a powerful leader on coal, the industry would be thriving and not dying. It's time to put partisanship and rhetoric aside to work together to put Kentuckians back to work."Other lawmakers such as state House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins and Rep. John Short spoke to Grimes's ability to "reach across the aisle.""Kentucky's coal industry is over 12,000 jobs here in the Bluegrass state and literally keeps the lights on," Short said in a statement. "Having seen Alison's ability to work across the aisle, I am confident that she will stand up to members of both parties and be a strong voice for Eastern Kentucky in Washington."In a fundraising e-mail, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton says Reid is Grimes's boss and that the two will expand the Obama administration's "war on coal.""Alison is campaigning to make sure that Harry Reid remains Majority Leader so he can do exactly this: block our efforts to save Kentucky coal and our economy," says Benton. "Harry Reid is one of the most anti-coal politicians in Washington, and even said, 'coal makes you sick.' Well, Harry Reid's leadership makes me sick. We need to make sure that Mitch McConnell, a proud, pro-coal Kentuckian leads the Senate, not an anti-coal liberal form Nevada."Grimes is scheduled to hold a fundraiser hosted by Reid in Nevada next month.
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