A single vote causes confusion

Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to be the next U.S. senator from Kentucky.

She’s taking on a heavyweight, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

Grimes has much to commend her for the job. However, there’s a strangely awkward reticence that is getting in the way. She declines to say whether she voted for President Obama in 2012.


This is a strange distraction. Come on, Ms. Grimes. What’s the story? Did you or did you not support the president, a member of your very own Democratic Party?

Politics creates such a fickle environment. Little things like this become big things in a heartbeat.

In a way, I understand Grimes’s reticence. Our votes, after all, are supposed to be done in secret. We cast our ballots with no obligation to tell anyone how we vote. Where I come from, that’s a sure sign of liberty. Voters become “liberated” by their votes, giving them more than ample justification to speak their minds on policy issues and the people who carry them out.

However, Grimes is running for a public office. That means her life essentially is an open book. The public is entitled to know to what level they endorse another public figure’s public policy stances.

Thus, her vote becomes grist for comment. It also becomes a target for inquiring minds.

Her reluctance might have something to do with the president’s low standing among Kentuckians. His approval rating is about 30 percent. Grimes has told at least two newspaper editorial boards — in Louisville and Lexington — that she’s a “Clinton Democrat.” She has declined on several occasions to say whether she voted for the president.

This kind of clumsiness angers her base, which she’ll need if she intends to defeat McConnell on Nov. 4.

It’s such a petty matter in the grand scheme. It has become a bigger matter than it deserves to be.

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