Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mitch McConnell's Primary Problem

It looks like things are about to get pretty interesting for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in his 2014 re-election bid. Kentucky businessman Matt Bevin has decided to offer himself up as a primary challenger in the Bluegrass State, and it looks like McConnell is about to get a pretty undiluted taste of what's been making House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) life a "living hell" lately. 
Yesterday, the National Review's Katrina Trinko reported that Bevin -- then "on the cusp" of announcing his run -- had been the target of much cajoling, and later, threats, from the McConnell camp:

“Mitch McConnell’s people reached out to Matt for several months through all different avenues trying to convince him not to run,” the adviser close to Bevin tells National Review Online. “They can pretend like they’re not afraid, they can call him a nuisance, but they were desperate not to have him. Because they are scared.”
“First they tried to threaten him,” the source added, “and then they tried to dangle shiny political prizes.”

McConnell, through campaign manager Jesse Benton, issued the standard denials, telling Trinko that no one from his camp had ever said anything to Bevin. He went on to allege that if anyone had cautioned Bevin against a run, it was "people from Matt's life" who were "desperately trying to prevent Matt from making a serious mistake." The McConnell campaign, Benton told Trinko, had a wealth of opposition material to use on Bevin. 
It was this sort of scenario that cost the Republican Party control of the Senate in the 2010 midterm elections. the GOP could have picked up another couple of seats, perhaps even that of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), were it not for some really far right and "not ready for primetime" candidates in nevada, Deleware, Connecticut, and elsewhere. The "establishment" Republican faced a primary challenge from a farther right candidate, the farther right candidate won the primary only to be defeated by a Democrat. It appears that the party (or at least the Tea Party sect thereof) has not learned from recent mistakes. Having said all of that, it is unlikely for the Democrats to win this particular Senate seat in conservative Kentucky. the potential candidate with the greatest shot was actor Ashley judd, but she decided months ago not to run. Regardless of that however, the details of this story paints McConnell in an even more unflattering light, compounding other recent goings-on he has had challenging his leadership. These are not good times to be Senator Mitch McConnell.

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