Political newcomer Matt Bevin has declared the time has come for Kentucky voters to oust Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.
Bevin criticized McConnell at a Frankfort press conference Wednesday for being a part of "the politics of failure" for nearly three decades. And Bevin offered himself as the alternative, describing himself as a man of the people, having grown up in a farmhouse with wood stoves for heat, a garden for vegetables, and land that provided assorted animals for meat, milk and eggs.
The Louisville investment adviser charged that McConnell "has lost touch with our state, its people and our values."
Meanwhile, the McConnell campaign released a new TV ad charging that Bevin accepted a $200,000 taxpayer bailout for companies he owns in Connecticut. The ad calls him "Bailout Bevin."
Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator is trying to reach out to Tea Party groups as he seeks another six-year term in Washington.
Mitch McConnell needs to shore up support on the Republican right in order to fend off a primary challenge next year. Sen. McConnell knew he would have a challenge from Democrats in 2014. What he was hoping to avoid was a primary challenge from a fellow Republican.
But that’s exactly what he has now, following Louisville investment advisor Matt Bevin’s entrance into the race. Bevin is officially announcing Wednesday that he will seek the GOP Senate nomination, creating a primary fight for McConnell.
McConnell isn't taking the news lying down.
Politico reports McConnell played host to the Tea Party caucus Tuesday in Washington, at a celebration honoring the birthday of former Senator Bob Dole. McConnell has had a strained relationship with the Tea Party, at first largely ignoring the movement, and then trying to mend fences when the Tea Party showed it had become a major powerbroker within the GOP.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has placed robo calls to GOP voters in Kentucky urging them to attend a church picnic in the western Kentucky community of Fancy Farm next week.
The picnic doubles as a raucous political showdown between Republicans and Democrats during an afternoon of stump speeches. It's especially important to McConnell this year because he's running for re-election, and he will have to share the stage with Democratic contender Alison Lundergan Grimes.
McConnell said he will kick off his re-election campaign at the picnic, which he billed as "the summer event you won't want to miss."
The political speeches are part of a fundraiser for St. Jerome Parish that typically draws some 10,000 people and generates about $250,000.
In addition to fighting off Democratic challengers, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell will also have to to defeat at least one fellow Republican next year.
An aide to Louisville businessman and Tea Party activist Matt Bevin distributed a news advisory Tuesday announcing stops on a statewide tour announcing his candidacy for Senate.
Bevin's entry into the race could force a shift in the McConnell campaign, which had been concentrating entirely on Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's 34-year-old Secretary of State.
The move by Bevin to challenge McConnell reflects a splintering of the tea party movement in Kentucky. Many activists, including Kentucky's junior U.S. Senator, Rand Paul of Bowling Green, have already pledged their support to McConnell's 2014 re-election efforts.
Not All Tea Party Groups Think Alike Re: McConnell in '14
McConnell’s re-election effort is highlighting divisions between some Kentucky tea party organizations, and national tea party groups backing the U.S. Senate Minority Leader.
The U.S. Senate Majority Leader is making some jokes at the expense of Kentucky’s senior Senator.
Democrat Harry Reid, speaking Monday at a gathering of the pro-Obama group, Organizing for Action, said Mitch McConnell "tried to make love to the tea party, and they didn’t like it.”
Reid and McConnell have been at odds recently over the GOP’s use of filibusters to prevent some of President Obama’s executive branch nominees from receiving confirmation votes.
Reid’s comments about the Tea Party and McConnell come as speculation mounts about a possible Republican primary challenge against the GOP Senate leader. Some in the Tea Party have criticized McConnell for not being sufficiently conservative on fiscal issues.
Democrats are responding to Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell’s criticism of President Obama regarding veterans’ disability claims. Speaking Monday in Louisville at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, McConnell said the backlog of more than 816-thousand disabled veterans who are seeking benefits is a “national disgrace.”
Kentucky’s senior Senator said the President should get involved to clear the medical claims backlog, adding “veterans should be able to count on their commander in chief.”
But the Courier-Journal reports the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly shot back at the U.S. Senate Minority Leader, saying that McConnell’s obstructionism is to blame for the problem. The group pointed out McConnell voted against a V.A. appropriations bill that included a plan to address the heavy backlog of veterans’ medical claims.
According to Congressional Quarterly, McConnell was one of six Republican Senators to vote against a House measure that included funding designed to clear the backlog.
A spokesman for McConnell says money isn’t the issue, pointing out that the V.A’s funding has increased 40% over the past four years.
A man who once wrote that he celebrates the birthday of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth has resigned from the staff of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Jack Hunter served as Paul’s director of new media and was a credited writer on Paul’s 2011 book “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.” Hunter also went by the nickname, the “Southern Avenger”, and in 2005 wrote that he raises “a personal toast every May 10th to celebrate John Wilkes Booth’s birthday.”
Speaking Monday in Louisville to a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sen. Paul said Hunter had become a “distraction”, and confirmed that Hunter was no longer a staff member. Hunter has recently said that statements he previously made as a radio and online pundit do "not accurately reflect me.”
In less than a month, Kentucky lawmakers are back in Frankfort for a special session on redistricting, but there are no plans yet to resolve another issue facing the state.
There's been no movement on comprehensive tax reform since a commission chaired by Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson offered recommendations last fall. The group suggested raising the cigarette tax, expanding the sales tax, and allowing local governments to levy a sales tax on special projects.
Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says modernizing the tax structure doesn't seem to be on anyone's agenda.
“I’ve never even spoke to Lieutenant Governor Abramson about the recommendations," Stumbo claims. "He’s never come by to explain to me and as far as I know he’s not been explaining them to other members of the general assembly, or very few members of the general assembly I would say.”
Stumbo says lawmakers are resistant to make tax changes because "somebody pays more and somebody pays less." Regardless, the House leader says tax reform must be accomplished. He says as the nation's economy grows, states continue to lag behind, and he blames that on tax structures that are not fully linked to the modern economy.
When Senator Mitch McConnell faces off against prospective general election opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes at this year’s Fancy Farm Picnic on Aug. 3, it will be the first time the Republican has squared off against his Democratic challenger this far in advance.
Director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues Al Cross says McConnell had one such opportunity in his first bid for re-election, and didn’t take it.
“In 1989, looking ahead to 1990, Harvey Sloane, the Jefferson County Judge Executive was openly running against McConnell. And McConnell did not give him the opportunity of a face-off that far in advance," remembers Cross.
McConnell’s last opponent, Bruce Lunsford didn’t declare his candidacy until very late in the election cycle. Cross expects the showdown at Fancy Farm will be “no holds barred” with Grimes looking to energize the Democratic base, and McConnell linking Grimes with President Barack Obama.
Some county clerks have complained about a fundraising request they received this week from Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's chief election official who is running for U.S. Senate against Republican Mitch McConnell.
The email went to people who had signed up to receive email notices from Grimes' Senate campaign - and apparently some who had not.
Oldham County Clerk Julie Barr, a Republican, said she was surprised to receive the solicitation. Barr, president of the Kentucky County Clerks Association, said she considered it inappropriate because Grimes has oversight of county clerks on elections.
Grimes political adviser Jonathan Hurst said the email was intended only for people who had requested campaign updates. He suggested that political opponents might have signed up people unaware.