This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. Primary races are picking up ahead of the midterm elections this fall. On Tuesday, voters in six states will go to the polls, making it one of the most important primary election days of the year.
Among the races to watch is a Tea Party challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. To give us a lay of the land is NPR political editor Charlie Mahtesian. Charlie, welcome to the program.
While establishment Republicans may still rule the day, the Tea Party is bent on taking down the king, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
The five-term incumbent is waging two wars to hang on to his seat. The first battle, culminating on May 20, has McConnell in a primary contest with Louisville businessman Matt Bevin. Hoping he doesn’t survive to fight in the general election, Tea Party groups across Kentucky are rallying the troops ahead of the May 20 primary.
“When was the last time you saw a town hall here in Kentucky with Senator McConnell where he actually answered questions? He shows up at Lincoln Day dinners, gives his speech, and leaves," asserts Scott Hofstra with the United Kentucky Tea Party. "He’s not accountable to us and doesn’t want to be. We deserve better.”
Hofstra spoke recently in Elizabethtown to a group called the Central Kentucky Tea Party Patriots, a mix of mostly blue collar workers and retirees.
National Tea Party groups are mostly split in their support of McConnell and Bevin, but state and local groups are mostly rallying around Bevin, someone they call a “true conservative,” who they think can take the GOP back to its roots.
A new poll shows Kentucky’s incumbent U.S. Senator coasting to victory against his Republican primary challenger.
But that same poll shows a dead-heat between Sen. Mitch McConnell and presumptive Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The NBC News-Marist poll shows Senator McConnell with a lead of 57-25 percent over his primary challenger, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin. Things are much tighter for the fall general election, however, with the poll showing McConnell with just a 46-45 percent lead over Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Sen. McConnell faces low approval numbers in the new poll, with 46 percent of registered voters saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing, while 41 percent say they approve.
Far fewer voters have formed an opinion about Secretary Grimes, with 27 percent of those surveyed saying they’re unsure, and another 10 percent who say they’ve never heard of her.
Party primaries are being held today in North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana, and more will come later in the month. In Kentucky, the Tea Party has set its sights on ousting one of the GOP’s most established figures on Capitol Hill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Phillip Bailey of WFPL reports:
In south central Kentucky, few people care more about politics than Joe Walden.
Kentucky’s two U.S. Senators have helped defeat an effort to raise the federal minimum wage.
Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul joined almost every other GOP Senator Wednesday in voting against a bill that would have boosted the minimum pay level for federal workers to $10.10 an hour by 2016, up from the current rate of $7.25.
Indiana Republican Sen. Dan Coats voted against the bill, with Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly supporting it.
Overall, the bill received 54 votes in favor and 42 votes against, short of the 60-vote threshold needed to continue.
Tennessee’s Bob Corker was the only Republican to vote in favor of the measure.
The federal minimum wage bill has become a hot campaign topic ahead of the next round of Congressional elections. Democrats have portrayed GOP opposition to a minimum wage increase as proof of Republican disinterest in the working class poor.
Republicans point to a Congressional Budget Office report that found such an increase could cost the economy 500,000 jobs.
Paul’s fellow Kentucky Senator, Mitch McConnell writes a tribute to Paul in Time, saying the “real secret” to Paul’s “rapid rise from a Bowling Green operating room to the Center of American politics is his authenticity”.
McConnell also writes that Paul is “forcing people to rethink the Republican Party.”
Meantime, a New York Times/Kaiser Family Family Foundation poll released this week shows one-third of Kentucky voters think Paul should make a presidential run in 2016. Another third feel Paul should not, while just over 30 percent say they don't have enough information to form an opinion.
Paul has said he'll wait until after the mid-term elections to announce a possible White House bid.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin says his opponent, incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell refuses to debate him.
Bevin’s camp announced today he has accepted KET's debate invitation for April 21. Bevin, a Louisville businessman and Tea Party activist, says the five-term senator won’t be there, however, because he doesn’t want to talk about the issues.
“I’d love to debate him, but he’s afraid to because he can’t defend his record and he has no vision for the future," Bevin said. "He can’t run on anything he’s done in the past. To me, there’s issues that matter.”
Calls to McConnell’s staff for comment were not immediately returned.
Bevin attended the Calloway County GOP’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner this weekend, but, unlike McConnell, was not invited to speak.
According to a Public Opinion Strategies poll released last week, McConnell leads Bevin 61 to 23 percent among likely Republican primary voters.
If Kentucky Republicans are sweating their party's U.S. Senate primary, they didn't show it Saturday night in Bowling Green.
At the 2014 Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, southern Kentucky Republicans rallied behind U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is facing a primary challenge by Tea Party activist Matt Bevin.
Second District Congressman Brett Guthrie told WKU Public Radio he believes the GOP will be able to unite before the November general election. The Warren County Republican said it’s not the first time a well-known incumbent has faced a primary.
“Hopefully what you can do is that people can come back together," Guthrie said. "And that’s what you hope will happen—people will air out their views. You know, primaries can be tricky, there’s absolutely no doubt about it, because somebody’s going to win, and somebody’s not going to win.”
Senator McConnell took the stage Saturday night and told the audience that he believes he’ll return to Washington next year as Senate Majority Leader. Republicans need to pick up six Senate seats to control the chamber.
A Senate candidate in Kentucky says same-sex marriage could lead to parent-child marriages for tax purposes.
Matt Bevin is challenging five-term Sen. Mitch McConnell in the May 20 Republican primary. Bevin told a radio talk show that marriage should retain its traditional definition as being between a man and a woman.
He says changing that could open the door to arbitrary definitions, such as people claiming to be "married to one of their children" for matters such as inheritance and hospital visits.
Bevin's campaign says he was not linking gay marriage to incest. The campaign says he was speaking of questions such as "hospital visitations and benefits."