It's always fun to try to knock off the other party's leader: Just ask Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who ousted then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) in 2004 in an incredibly tough and bloody campaign.
Now Democrats are hoping to return the favor, putting increased effort and attention into a campaign to beat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in November. But will it work? National Democrats got the candidate they wanted in businessman Bruce Lunsford (D), who has plenty of cash to put in the race. One recent independent survey showed Lunsford leading McConnell by 5 points, though neither party appears to be taking the poll that seriously. Another poll released this week, conducted for McConnell's campaign, showed the incumbent with an 11-point lead. And McConnell remains a savvy campaigner and a powerful and generally well-liked figure in Kentucky, even if the state has shown signs of being more competitive of late.
The bottom line is that McConnell is the favorite in the fall, as this contest is in the lower tier of competitive races (it didn't even make The Fix's last Senate line). For Democrats to win here, they'll have to ride a huge wave that would presumably yield them other seats all over the country. But there's an ancillary benefit for Democrats to making this a close race. Even if McConnell wins, the more time he has to spend campaigning and worrying about his reelection, the less time and attention he'll be able to devote to leading the minority in the Senate.
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