Matt Bevin

Mitch McConnell and the “Republican brand”

TL;DR: Mitch McConnell feels threatened by principled conservatives and feels that they’re ruining the “Republican brand” by challenging him and other establishment Republicans. But really, the “Republican brand” is in shambles, and it’s time to re-define that brand to return to small-government principles.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t a happy camper these days. He’s locked in both a contentious primary and general election fight, losing rule battles against his Democratic counterpart, and has to contend with some members of his own party who are constantly willing to stand on principle, rather than the party line.

“The ‘Republican brand’ was severely damaged several years ago. That was largely due to dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush, an unpopular war, and corruption in Congress.”

The rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative organizations have created havoc for McConnell and Republican leadership in the chamber, who enjoyed mostly distant rumblings from the political right in the past. But over the last few months, there has been a tiff between the Kentucky Republican and the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) that has now boiled over into the public.

Back to the Future: Mitch McConnell edition

 "It's Time for New Leadership in Washington"

As a political junkie, I like good campaign ads. Matt Bevin, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Republican primary in Kentucky, is out with a powerful new ad that reminds voters how Senator McConnell originally made his way to Washington.

Using McConnell’s own words from 1984, Bevin reminds voters McConnell charged Walter “Dee” Huddleston, his incumbent opponent:

“The Kentucky Senior Senator voted 20 times since he’s been there for spending money that we didn’t have. In other words, increasing the debt ceiling or for budget deficits.

“And now as we move toward the election year, he complains about the deficits and acts like a fiscal conservative. We’re all suffering. And our future as Kentuckians depend on obviously people like our Senator, who has let us down.

Today in Liberty: Some Dems missing from “talkathon,” election day in FL-13

“The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” — Ayn Rand

— Oh, Fox News, STAAAAAHP: Another morning, another anti-Edward Snowden rant on Fox and Friends. “Edward Snowden is a terrible person, the worst in the world. Here’s a clip of Charles Krauthammer agreeing with me.” Yeah, there are some legit complaints about Snowden, like his seeking asylum from Russia, not exactly a bastion of liberty, but the guy tried to handle things the right way by taking his concerns about the NSA’s surveillance programs to his superiors. They didn’t listen, so he went to the media. In our minds, Snowden is more a hero than anything else for exposing programs that ignore the protections guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment. We also believe that he’s raised some other excellent points about the federal government wasting its resources. But neo-cons are gonna neo-con, and don’t you dare ever question them.

Today in Liberty: Rand Paul’s revolution, Obama to raise emissions standards for trucks

“Maybe I’ll do a real horror record and talk about the Obama administration.”Glenn Danzig

— Rand Paul and the next Republican revolution: There’s a great read over at Politico this morning about Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and how he, with his libertarian-leanings, is leading a new Republican revolution. “Facing his own primary challenge from the right next month, [Sen. John] Cornyn let everyone know he’s in sync with the Cruzes and Pauls of the Senate. ‘Every day, Ted and Rand and I wake up, get outta bed and push back on the Obama agenda,’ Cornyn said in introducing Paul, whom he called ‘one of the brightest new stars in the Republican Party, someone with courage, intelligence and principles who can help us win elections and reclaim our country,’” wrote Katie Glueck. “The gushing words underscored Paul’s remarkable trajectory within his party: from insurgent challenger four years ago, to headache for Senate leadership, to having the Senate whip himself offer Paul’s warm-up act.”

John McCain: Mitch McConnell faces a “very tough” race

John McCain and Mitch McConnell

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) didn’t help Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) yesterday. Shortly after a handful of Senate Republicans helped Democrats hand President Obama a blank check to raise the debt ceiling, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee acknowledged that McConnell faces a “very tough race” back home and that his vote on the debt hike could come back to hurt him:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., thinks he faces a “tough” battle, made tougher by his vote to break a filibuster of the debt limit increase.

“I must say that it was a very courageous act, especially Sen. McConnell, who — as you well know — is in a very tough race,” McCain told Politico on Wednesday, in an apparent allusion to the fact that the vote gives his primary challenger, Matt Bevin, political ammunition against McConnell.

Sixty-seven senators voted to end debate on the debt limit increase, though McConnell and the rest of the Senate Republicans voted against the debt limit increase itself.

KY Senate: Matt Bevin says McConnell can’t win this fall

Matt Bevin

At an event sponsored by FreedomWorks PAC, Matt Bevin cited recent polls as evidence that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can’t win this fall, telling media in attendance that Kentucky voters should try something new:

In remarks at a Washington event sponsored by the tea party-affiliated group FreedomWorks PAC, Bevin painted himself as the only Republican who can beat Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in what is already among the most high-profile races of the 2014 midterm cycle.

“We run a tremendous risk of losing this seat in Kentucky to someone who does not represent Kentucky values,” Bevin said. “We run the risk of losing this seat because of a sense of apathy and a sense of fatigue for the career politician that is my opponent in this primary, Mitch McConnell.”
[…]
“There are many reasons why who I am as a real person, in the real world, resonates with people,” Bevin told reporters, pointing to his family, military and business experience.

He added that Grimes “cannot get the anti-Mitch vote when she’s running against me. That’s a significant chunk of the voting bloc that are simply voting against him.”

The Courier-Journal and WKYT released a poll last week which found Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, leading McConnell by 4 points, 46/42. The poll also found that McConnell’s approval rating is underwater, at 32/60. By contrast, President Obama’s approval rating is at 34/60.

Today in Liberty: January jobs report disappoints, Biden can’t think of a reason not to run in 2016

“The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.” — Daniel Webster

— January jobs report lower than expectations: The Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that 113,000 jobs were created in January. The unemployment rate fell to 6.6%. Economists predicted a net-gain of 180,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain at 6.7%. ADP estimated this week that 175,000 jobs were created last month. The labor participation rate rose slight to 63%, up from 62.8% in January, a 35-year low. The December report was revised upward, though marginally, from 74,000 to 75,000 jobs.

— McConnell trails in Kentucky: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) trails his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, by 4 points, according to a new Lexington Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll. Just 32% of Kentuckians approve of McConnell’s job performance, while 60% disapprove, which is actually worse than President Obama’s approval rating (34/60) in the state. Grimes also holds a 5-point lead over Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell in the GOP primary. The only bright spot for McConnell is that he holds a 26-point lead over Bevin among primary voters.

KY Senate: McConnell tied with Dem challenger, Bevin leads

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can’t be happy with the latest poll out of Kentucky, released yesterday by Rasmussen Reports. It’s not that he finds himself in an unusual position against his Democratic challenger, but rather than his primary opponent is outperforming him.

The poll found that McConnell is tied with Alison Lundergan Grimes, at 42/42. That’s on par with other recent polls, which have found the Kentucky Republican holding slight, statistically insignificant leads.

McConnell’s Republican primary challenger, Matt Bevin, however, holds a 4-point lead over Grimes, at 40/36, just inside the margin of error.

Though the poll didn’t offer any hint of McConnell’s approval ratings, Rasmussen did measure voter favorability of the three candidates.

Kentucky voters have a mixed view of Grimes, who is viewed favorably by 40%, while 37% hold an unfavorable view. Bevin isn’t well known, but 32% have a favorable view. The same number said that they’d never heard of him. Twenty-six percent (26%) view him unfavorably.

McConnell’s numbers aren’t bad, though he’s still underwater, with 46% holding a favorable of the Senate minority leader and 49% expressing an unfavorable opinion.

As one might imagine, Bevin gloated about the numbers.

“These poll numbers are an accurate reflection of what I see and hear every day traveling across the Commonwealth,” said Bevin in a statement. “Kentuckians have had enough of career politicians like Mitch McConnell who compromise our conservative principles and instead vote for Obamacare, bailouts, amnesty and tax increases.”

KY Senate: FreedomWorks backs McConnell primary challenger

FreedomWorks PAC has endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) primary challenger, Matt Bevin, the grassroots organization announced yesterday, adding to the already contentious, polarizing race.

“For far too long Mitch McConnell has sat on the sidelines of pivotal fights, helping the Democrats pass unprecedented surveillance powers, the TARP/Wall Street bailout, numerous tax hikes and debt ceiling increases, and Medicare Part D,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks PAC.

“Most recently,” Kibbe continued, “he orchestrated the McConnell-Reid sellout bargain to increase the debt limit and fully fund a broken health care law, getting a $1.2 billion ‘special project kickback’ in the process. Kentucky deserves better, and looking at the dropping poll numbers for McConnell, there’s no reason to settle.”

“Now more than ever, we need strong fiscal conservatives who will fight to cut spending on the front lines, not the sidelines. Matt Bevin is a great upgrade for Kentuckians who are serious about transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability in government,” he added.

McConnell’s campaign has denied responsibility for the “special project kickback” — funding for a river lock project on the Ohio-Kentucky border — to which Kibbe referred in his statement. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) reportedly requested the earmark.

KY Senate: Conservative group backs Mitch McConnell’s primary challenger

Matt Bevin (photo courtesy of Matt Bevin for Kentucky

Following a heated and divisive fight over ObamaCare and a deal brokered between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a prominent conservative organization has announced its endorsement of the Republican leader’s primary challenger.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), announced on Friday that they would back Matt Bevin, a conservative candidate challenging McConnell for the Republican nomination in Kentucky.

“Matt Bevin is a true conservative who will fight to stop the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are destroying our country. He is not afraid to stand up to the establishment and he will do what it takes to stop Obamacare,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, in a press statement.

“We know that winning this primary won’t be easy. Mitch McConnell has the support of the entire Washington establishment and he will do anything to hold on to power. But if people in Kentucky and all across the country rise up and demand something better, we’re confident Matt Bevin can win this race,” he added.

The Senate Conservatives Fund is framing the race between Bevin, who they call a “constitutional conservative,” and McConnell, labeled as a “Washington insider” who has “a liberal record and refuses to fight for conservative principles.”


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