Meet Lundergan Alison Grimes, The Tough Kentucky Candidate Giving Mitch McConnell A Run For His Money

In what's likely to be one of the most expensive and competitive elections this fall, 35-year-old Alison Lundergan Grimes is set to take on Sen. Mitch McConnell. As the current Kentucky Secretary of State, Grimes has championed issues like providing free legal counsel to victims of domestic abuse, and improving voting procedures for the homeless. If she wins, Grimes will be Kentucky's first woman senator, and so far gender is playing a big role in her campaign against McConnell.

Grimes has made a point of mentioning McConnell's lack of support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and has fended off sexist criticisms with ease. After Grimes announced her candidacy, Republican strategist and member of the Republican Senatorial Committee Brad Dayspring launched a series of attacks against Grimes, calling her "an empty dress," and saying that "she babbles incoherently and stares blankly into the camera as though she’s a freshman in high school struggling to remember the CliffsNotes after forgetting to read her homework assignment."

In her acceptance speech on Tuesday, Grimes referred to these claims, shouting to a cheering crowd, "I am not an empty dress, I am not a rubber stamp, and I am not a cheerleader. I am a strong Kentucky woman!" And if you still have any doubt about Grimes' toughness, check out the time when she taught Mitch McConnell how to hold a gun.

Mitch McConnell has responded to Grimes' clear attempts to win over women voters by bringing his wife Elaine Chao campaigning with him, a move that screams, "I don't think women deserve equal pay, but at least I'm married to one."

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In McConnell's acceptance speech, he argued that a vote for Grimes will be a vote for the current administration and the man who, he alleged, served Obamacare to the American people "on a mountain of lies." Grimes has responded by trying to distance herself from the President, which could be a smart move in a state where President Obama's approval ratings are some of the lowest in the country.

In an interview with CNN, Grimes evaded questions about whether she would campaign with the President: "Nothing about this election is going to change who our President is, but we can actually change who is in Washington, D.C., and put someone there who fights for the people of this state instead of looking out for his own job." Grimes has also openly criticized Obama's coal policy, and with Kentucky as the third-largest coal producer in the country, this will be an important issue for her to distinguish herself from the president on.

In her most recent campaign ad, calm instrumental music plays in the background as Grimes assures voters, "No matter who the President is, I won't answer to them. I'll answer to you."

Alison for Kentucky on YouTube

Grimes won the primary by a landslide, with 79 percent of the vote, and has already spent $8 million. Both candidates are expected to spend much more, and Grimes has connections to big donors in the state. Her father has been involved in Kentucky democratic politics for years and is close friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton, both of whom campaigned and fundraised for Grimes during the primary.

Grimes has said that Hillary Clinton is her role model and during her acceptance speech on Tuesday, the crowd occasionally chanted "Hillary, Hillary!" Clearly this is a woman who knows who to align herself with. Maybe she should start saying a vote for Grimes is a vote for Hillary — that should scare the GOP.