While other groups are staying on the sidelines, the Madison Project has jumped in the Kentucky Republican Senate primary and is enthusiastically boosting businessman Matt Bevin’s campaign against Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell:
It’s a repeat of the group’s strategy in Texas in 2012, when they were the first national conservative organization to endorse Ted Cruz. “The importance of their endorsement in the early days was significant,” says John Drogin, who served as Cruz’s campaign manager and is now the senator’s state director. …
But while Cruz wasn’t the establishment candidate in the GOP primary, his establishment-backed rival — Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst — wasn’t an incumbent, much less the top Senate Republican. McConnell is known for his ruthless campaigning, and he has a long track record of victories in Kentucky. His campaign has already vehemently pushed back on attacks claiming that he’s not conservative enough by noting that he has a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union. And Rand Paul, a tea-party favorite and Kentucky’s other senator, has already endorsed McConnell.
Drew Ryun is confident, however, that Bevin is the little engine that can, despite a McConnell-campaign poll released last month that showed Bevin trailing McConnell 21 percent to 68 percent. “He’s slightly behind [where Marco Rubio was] at this stage of the campaign, and he’s slightly ahead of Ted [Cruz],” says Ryun. “Where he is right now I actually feel pretty comfortable with it, given the fact that his name recognition is not what it could be in Kentucky.”