McConnell Opponents, Allies Clash
PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013.

ABC News' Michael Falcone reports:

For a Senate race without an opposing candidate, there sure are a lot of television ads flying back and forth in Kentucky these days.

After two Democratic groups unleashed a volley of TV commercials this week attacking Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is up for re-election in 2014, the Senate Minority Leader is about to get a little help from his friends.

Namely, from an outside group called Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a pro-McConnell super PAC that is planning to release a flight of ads next week to combat the latest Democratic assault.

According to a strategist with the group, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership is spending $260,000 on the ads, which will run on broadcast and cable in the state. That's roughly $10,000 more than what two Democratic groups, the Senate Majority PAC and an allied organization, Patriot Majority USA, spent on a new ad, unveiled on Thursday, which asks: "How long is too long in Washington?" and features a clip of McConnell saying he's lived on a government salary for three decades.

It's part of the groups' "30 Years Is Too Long" campaign, which promises "paid television and radio media, digital advertisements, mail, telephones, email, social media, research and a web presence" between now and Election Day 2014. (In March, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also paid for a series of anti-McConnell radio ads).

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership's ad won't be released until next week, but a Democratic strategist said news of the effort, "absolutely proves that McConnell knows he's vulnerable."

As far back as February, the McConnell campaign began running online videos, and later a series of television ads, in support of his re-election bid even though he does not yet have a viable Democratic opponent.

Ever since actress Ashley Judd passed on the race, all eyes have been on Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes as the most likely potential challenger but she has not announced her intentions.

The latest ad buys highlight the critical role outside groups are sure to play in marquee races across the country during the coming midterm election cycle as well as the millions that will likely be spent on both sides in the Kentucky Senate contest (assuming that elusive viable challenger to McConnell eventually emerges).

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