McConnell may see Tea Party challenge in primary
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may be primaried by Kentucky Tea Party groups who are discussing whether to back a local businessmen against him.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could see a primary challenge from local businessman Matt Bevin, who sources say is reaching out to Tea Party groups in the state to gauge support for a 2014 Senate run.
Sarah Duran, president of the Louisville Tea Party, told The Hill that Bevin had been in touch with her over the phone to discuss his run multiple times over the past few weeks, and that he met with the group two weeks ago to discuss his interest in the race.
"We met with him to just discuss our feelings about the Senator, our feelings about someone running against him, what the challenges would be, the risks involved," she said.
She added that other Tea Party groups had reached out to Bevin to encourage him to run, and that even "some people that have supported McConnell in the past" had been in touch with him about a potential bid.
Bevin is the owner of Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, a Connecticut bell-making company founded 160 years ago. He previously worked as CEO of Integrity Asset Management, an investment management firm with offices in Kentucky.
His personal wealth would be an advantage running against McConnell, who has more than $7 million cash on hand and is is actively fundraising in preparation for 2014.
Going into 2014, however, Kentuckians involved in both Democratic and Republican politics believe McConnell could be vulnerable to challenges from the left and the right.
A recent survey from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling revealed him to be the least popular senator in the nation, and a poll from Republican firm Harper Polling showed one prominent potential Democratic contender, actress Ashley Judd, just nine percentage points behind him.
McConnell has been criticized on the right for the perception that he is weak, and on the left because of the percieved obstructionism his leadership represents. But McConnell has a formidable war chest and is an experienced campaigner. Bevin may be a Tea Party darling but has never held public office and never mounted a statewide campaign.
McConnell is no shoe in for the general election as there is far more passion against him than for him. He is ripe for being knocked off. Perhaps a candidate that generates more enthusiasm would have a better shot against a Democratic challenger in the general election.