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.