PRESTONSBURG — During an election year, it is not odd to see candidates visiting workplaces to court votes.
It is a little more unusual, however, to see them venturing deep beneath a mountain to talk to coal miners.
But that is exactly what Secretary of State and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes did Friday, touring a northeastern Floyd County mining operation and speaking with on-the-job miners. She called the visit an opportunity to see and hear directly from those who work in the industry.
Afterwards, Grimes participated in a discussion at the Mountain Arts Center, in Prestonsburg, with local community members and elected officials about jobs and the coal industry. She listened to participants share their experiences, challenges and hopes for the future.
Grimes also offered her thoughts on the need for legislation that helps to prepare Kentucky for the future, rather than just respond to crises after the fact. She touted her jobs plan, released in January at the MAC, which outlines her priorities for helping coal communities diversify their economies and save jobs.
She also took the opportunity to attack her opponent on the issue, following several weeks of television ads and campaign mailings challenging her on the coal issue.
“Mitch McConnell has had three decades to address the issues facing Kentucky, and he has not saved one coal job,” Grimes said. “He has not helped to make this state stronger in terms of how we’re going to move Kentucky — especially Eastern Kentucky — forward.”
But the McConnell campaign brushed aside Grimes’ visit as a publicity stunt.
“It’s no coincidence that one week after Alison Lundergan Grimes was caught lying to Kentuckians about sharing their coal concerns at her Washington fundraiser with Harry Reid, she shows up to a professional photo shoot inside of a coal mine,” McConnell press secretary Allison Moore said. “There’s a big difference between staging pictures at a coal mine and fighting for the people working inside that mine, and Grimes has proven she cannot be trusted to do the latter.”
Among those taking part in the discussion with Grimes were House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Floyd County teacher and Successful Women and Appalachian Girls founder Kelsey Tackett, Pike County Magistrate and State Rep. candidate Chris Harris, Knott County Judge-Executive Zach Weinberg, Martin County Judge-Executive Kelly Callaham, Rose Deskins, Pike County Judge-Executive candidate Bill Deskins and Shawn Owens, economic development director, tourism director and waste management director for Knott County and surrounding area.