Why do Kentucky women hold Mitch McConnell in such contempt? His favorables with them are a negative 26 percent, and his Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes leads him with women by 12 points, according to a recent independent Bluegrass Poll.
Perhaps it’s in the policy. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Voted Against Paycheck Fairness Act twice. He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act, calling it a “special interest vote.” McConnell and Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill calling for equal pay in the workplace.
McConnell voted against raising the minimum wage 15 times, when over 250,000 Kentucky women would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, according to a new report from the National Women’s Law Center. They report that 7 in 10 minimum wage workers are women working long hours to provide for their families in Kentucky.
Alison Lundergan Grimes responded to the report by vowing that the first thing she would do when elected is voting to increase the minimum wage, “Hardworking women across the Commonwealth rely on the minimum wage to put gas in the car, food on the table and roofs over their children’s heads. Unfortunately, the current minimum wage is simply not enough to make ends meet. Senator McConnell says increasing the minimum wage is the last thing he’d do, even voting over 15 times against giving hardworking Kentuckians a raise. When elected as Kentucky’s first female Senator, it will be the first thing I do.”
Mitch McConnell’s record on women’s issues gets worse. Not only did he vote against the original Violence Against Women Act co-sponsored by now Vice President Joe Biden in 1994, but McConnell voted against reauthorizing the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act as well, calling it a “distraction”. This “distraction” causes 3 deaths a day to women, and 1 in 4 women have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
The VAWA was ultimately passed in the Senate with a large bipartisan majority, indicating that Mitch McConnell is far right on women’s issues. (See a fact sheet on the VAWA improvements here.)
This was a choice that essentially meant a sure increase in violence aimed against women. For example, the reporting of domestic violence has increased by 51% since the law’s passage. Forty percent of mass shootings targeted an intimate partner from 2009 to 2012. According to the 2011 National Census of Domestic Violence Services survey, Kentucky domestic violence programs served 1,185 victims in a single day. They provide emergency shelter from imminent harm, transitional housing, transportation, and counseling. It’s morally repugnant to be against funding these basic services that offer women a chance at “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
So, basically, the Mitch World for women is a world where they are denied fair pay, they are denied the right to ask about fair pay as they toil away at a minimum wage that Mitch thinks is just fine as it is. In Mitch World, women are put into more jeopardy — forced to be sitting targets for violence. And since the VAWA helps law enforcement prosecute abusers, refusing to reauthorize it is the equivalent of enabling violent assaults against women to go unpunished.
Kentucky women are apparently not impressed that Mitch gave abusers a get out of jail free card.
Let’s not forget that Republicans shut down government in a fit of pique over people getting access to healthcare via Obamacare, which meant that rape centers around the country closed due to lack of funding, and rapes investigations were obstructed. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to lecture American women about turning rape into lemonade and assuring them that they must bring a rapist’s baby to term because real rape “shuts that down”.
McConnell made a huge mistake by making women angry. In 2008, he beat his opponent among women. Even though Republicans seem to hold women in contempt, they need women come election time and he’s not getting much love this time around.
“McConnell’s votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the Violence Against Women Act appear to be a serious drag on his ability to win over Kentucky women,” Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said Wednesday. “Unless McConnell explains why he has voted against women’s interests time and time again, he will fail to gain an ounce more of support. This November, the Commonwealth will elect Alison Lundergan Grimes its first female U.S. Senator and finally be able to count on a leader who fights for them.”
Apparently the women of Kentucky aren’t fooled by McConnell’s finger pointing distractions. They are not so worried about the fictional “evils” of Obamacare, but they are very worried about actual reality that they deal with every day. Things like a fair minimum wage, fair pay, and keeping women safe — these are the things that Kentucky women care about.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.