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Tags: Mitch McConnell

McConnell: I’ll Back a Rand Paul Presidential Bid



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A couple of conservatives who are fans of Rand Paul and not such big fans of Mitch McConnell wondered why Paul had worked so hard to ensure McConnell’s election, endorsing him way back in March 2013 and pulling out all the stops in both the primary and the general election.

One obvious reason is that by helping out early and often, Rand Paul has a lot more influence with McConnell in the new GOP Senate majority than he would have had otherwise. The flip side is that had Paul endorsed Matt Bevin, a victorious McConnell would have a lot of ways to hinder Paul for the next six years.

And now a less obvious reason reveals itself:

McConnell also is intrigued by Paul’s plans for 2016, when Kentucky’s junior senator faces re-election to his Senate seat while potentially running for president.

It’s a safe bet that Paul won’t be the only member of McConnell’s GOP caucus who considers trying for a move to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Does that require a tricky balance?

“(It’s) not tricky at all,” McConnell said. “Obviously, I’m a big supporter of Rand Paul. We’ve developed a very tight relationship, and I’m for him.”

For president?

“Whatever he decides to do,” McConnell said. “I don’t think he’s made a final decision on that. But he’ll be able to count on me.”

If you’re running for president, it’s good to have the Senate majority leader as a key ally.

BFFs!

Tags: Rand Paul , Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell Wins. Now He Can Smile.



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To the surprise of no one, other than those who were writing those glowing profiles of Alison Lundergan Grimes as the next Great Democratic Rural Hope earlier this year, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell is reelected to the Senate.

Tags: Mitch McConnell

Chuck Todd on Grimes: ‘I Think She Disqualified Herself.’



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The gang at MSNBC’s Morning Joe rips into Democratic Senate candidate Allison Lundergan Grimes for refusing to say whether she voted for Barack Obama or not:

Chuck Todd:

Kentuckians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything? Is she ever going to answer a tough question on anything? You want to be a U.S. senator? If you can’t say, if you can’t find a way to stand behind your party’s president — you can disagree with him — but you can’t answer that basic question? And you come across looking that ridiculous? I think she disqualified herself. I really do.

By the way, this is a good example of how Chuck Todd, while by no means a conservative, is enough of a straight shooter that conservatives ought to applaud him, or at least give him a chance as the new host of Meet the Press. When a Democrat flops and looks silly, Todd says the Democrat flopped and looked silly.

Could anyone picture David Gregory saying that one of the Democrats’ biggest hopes for the cycle “disqualified herself” in the final weeks of an election?

Tags: Alison Lundergan Grimes , Kentucky , Mitch McConnell

Are SurveyUSA’s Polls a Warning to the GOP? Or Just Outliers?



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A selection from today’s Morning Jolt . . . 

Monday Survey USA released a poll of Kentucky voters showing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes up by 2 in the Senate race. Not only is that the first poll to show Grimes ahead since June, every other poll since July had Mitch McConnell ahead by at least 4. The previous most recent poll, by the CBS News/New York Times, had McConnell up by 6.

Wednesday SurveyUSA had Charlie Crist up by 6; two weeks earlier, they had Rick Scott ahead by 1, and two weeks before that they had Scott ahead by 5. Other pollsters have not seen the same dramatic shift in Crist’s favor.

To their credit, the Survey USA release mentions a possible reason for volatility:

The volatility and abnormal pattern of who is home and who is not home will continue next week, when normal SurveyUSA polling operations are confounded by Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Some schools will close, and some may use the long weekend to travel, and be away from their home telephones, altering for yet another week the pattern of who is and who is not reachable by pollsters.

Their September 26 poll of Oregon showed incumbent Democrat John Kitzhaber up by 12 in the governor’s race and incumbent Democrat Jeff Merkley up 20 in the Senate race, around what the other pollsters have found.

Wednesday, Sept 26, SurveyUSA released a poll that had Republican David Purdue up 1 in Georgia’s Senate race; that’s the smallest lead any pollster has found in the past six polls.

They found Jason Carter, the Democrat, up 1 in the governor’s race. That was the only poll in the last five to have Carter ahead.

Again, this doesn’t mean that they’re “skewed” or “biased” or trying to depress Republican turnout or trying to lull Democrats into a false sense of security.

At first glance, I would wonder if they were projecting or expecting a higher turnout — with an electorate closer to the makeup of presidential years — than other pollsters.

How do we know if a poll is an “outlier”? Wait for more polls, see what they show . . . 

Tags: SurveyUSA , Polling , Mitch McConnell , Rick Scott

Mitch McConnell Ends September With Emotional Ad



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One heck of a testimonial ad for Senator Mitch McConnell, featuring Noelle Hunter of Morehead, Ky., describing McConnell’s efforts to help her recover her daughter when her ex-husband took her daughter to Mali:

Tags: Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell Hasn’t Trailed a Poll Since June



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Remember when Alison Lundergan Grimes was the Democrats’ hot rising star and big hope for the 2014 midterms?

Apparently her “I’m not Barack Obama” ads aren’t working.

Tags: Mitch McConnell , Alison Lundergan Grimes , Kentucky

‘These Are Serious Times.’



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The reelection campaign of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, declaring “these are serious times.”

Meanwhile:

After a series of polls showing Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race trending for incumbent Mitch McConnell, Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes has released a new poll showing her ahead by one percentage point. The internal poll was conducted by Mark Mellman, a Washington-based pollster hired by the Grimes campaign.

The last eight polls showed McConnell ahead; the latest from NBC News had him up by 8 points.

That’s what’s known as a “Please don’t abandon me!” move.

Tags: Mitch McConnell , Alison Lundergan Grimes , Kentucky , Polling

Nobody’s Buzzing About Alison Lundergan Grimes Anymore.



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You don’t hear Democrats buzzing about beating Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky these days. There’s a pretty good reason for that.

McConnell doesn’t have a great lead, or an insurmountable lead — just a steady one:

If you’re the DSCC or a Democrat-leaning SuperPAC, what’s the higher priority? Knocking off McConnell? Or saving vulnerable incumbents like Hagan, Udall, Landrieu, Pryor, etc.?

Tags: Alison Lundergan Grimes , Mitch McConnell

Democratic Senate Nominee Attacks Obama in New Ad



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Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is attempting to unseat Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), released a radio ad attacking President Obama for the Environmental Protection Agency’s coal-industry regulations.

“Mr. President, Kentucky has lost one-third of our coal jobs in just the last three years,” Grimes says in the ad, per the Courier-Journal. “Now your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie-in-the-sky regulations that are impossible to achieve.”

The apparent purpose of the radio spot is to assure conservative voters in the red state that Grimes won’t be a loyal foot soldier to Obama and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) if she is elected.

The McConnell campaign countered by reminding Kentuckians that Grimes was a delegate for Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

“Her belated concern about the war on coal now that she’s a candidate, after helping to ensure it by backing Obama, is insulting and transparently political,” McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in response to the ad.

You can expect Grimes and McConnell to continue fighting about her ties to Obama. ”This is what the entire election is about: Either McConnell is going to successfully tie Grimes to Obama’s liberal policies and win, or he’ll fail at that and lose,” a Republican strategist said. “This is a microcosm of the entire election.” 

The sparring about Grimes’s ad comes on the same day that Reid blocked a McConnell bill that would delay the EPA’s regulation to cut carbon emissions at existing coal plants.

“The EPA’s proposed regulation on existing power plants is only going to add to the economic challenges facing Kentucky—especially in Eastern Kentucky, which is ‘Ground Zero’ for what’s happening to our coal industry,” said Bill Bissett, president of the KY Coal Association. “We believe these proposed regulations will not only cause Kentucky’s electricity rates to skyrocket, but it will also harm the reliability of our electricity supply across the United States. The Kentucky Coal Association fully supports and appreciates Senator McConnell’s Coal Country Protection Act, which will make the Obama Administration and the EPA face the truth of what this regulation is going to do to American families, the coal industry and U.S. electricity production.”

Tags: Kentucky , Mitch McConnell , Alison Lundergan Grimes , Alison Grimes

A Good Night for McConnell, a Disappointing One for the Clinton Family



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From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

How About [YAWN] Those Thrilling [YAWN] Primary Night Results?

It would be easy to say something snarky or derisive about Matt Bevin, jumping into a primary challenge against Mitch McConnell and largely failing to get any traction, winning only 35 percent to McConnell’s 60 percent. Yes, he made a bunch of missteps along the way. Yes, he was an imperfect-at-best messenger for an anti-TARP message. But he got in the arena, made his case, stood up for what he believed in, and took his lumps. That’s what America’s system of free elections is all about, and the country — and the conservative movement — will need more people willing to do that in the years to come. And as much as Tuesday night’s results must have disappointed Bevin and his supporters, it’s worth remembering that the McConnell campaign treated him like a serious threat — because he had the potential to be a serious threat.

The boss . . . doesn’t quite agree:

To no one’s surprise, Mitch McConnell won handily tonight, a testament to his sure-footedness in Kentucky politics and to the folly of the groups that invested so much in defeating him. Those groups ran a weak candidate with probably only a long-shot chance to win at best and ended up, in effect, making a large in-kind contribution to the Alison Lundergan Grimes campaign — largely because they were bent on pursuing a vendetta with deep roots in the Senate cloakroom, consequences be damned. I’m glad that, as Pat notes, the groups are now endorsing McConnell, but this was a primary challenge that started out dumb and ended up dumber.

Note that last night Grimes got . . . 76 percent up against a trio of no-names in the Democratic primary? Hmm. Nearly 100,000 Kentucky Democrats voted for one of the other guys.

In Georgia’s GOP Senate primary, David Purdue and Jack Kingston advanced to the runoff, as expected.

In Pennsylvania . . . maybe the Clinton endorsement isn’t so golden after all:

State Rep. Brendan Boyle won the Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Allyson Schwartz in Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District Tuesday and is overwhelmingly favored to take over the Democratic-leaning district, after besting Clinton in-law and former Rep. Marjorie Margolies in the primary.

Quick point on Oregon, where we can expect the rest of the campaign to revolve around this:

An employee of the Democratic Party of Oregon was the first person to request the April 2013 police report of timber baron Andrew Miller accusing Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby of “stalking” him after a break-up.

For Republicans, there’s some delicious satisfaction of accurately accusing Democrats of snooping around in a woman’s personal life, and accusing them of a war on women.

But are those of us who don’t know Monica Wehby sure the voters shouldn’t think about this accusation? Maybe not enough to disqualify herself from the U.S. Senate, the august institution that includes Al Franken and used to include Ted Kennedy, Robert “Sheets” Byrd, Ben “Cornhusker Kickback” Nelson, Bob Torricelli . . . 

This is from her victory speech last night:

When I was going through the process of deciding to get into this race it was my son who first said, “Mom, why would you leave a job that you love, that you trained until you were 35 years old to do, where everybody loves you, to take a job where people say all kinds of mean things about you on the internet.”

And I told him about a brain-tumor patient of mine who had made a full recovery and came back to my office to give me a card that I treasure to this day. The card read, “If we’re not here to make life better for one another, then what’s the point?” Over the last several days, in the face of vicious, ugly, and hurtful attacks, I’ve thought a lot about both my son’s question and my patient’s words of wisdom. And now more than ever I take those words to heart. I am running for Senate because I want to help make life a little better for each other.

Look, Lord knows I’m not perfect. I am like countless other Oregonians. I’m a working mom who balances a career that I love with children that I adore and would do anything to protect. I try my best, but in my life I’ve made some mistakes. And when I do, I’m no different than any of you in that when I’ve fallen short, I have gotten up and tried to do better. I promise that as your Senator, I will do the same.

My message to the Democrats who are willing to shred my family for their own political gain is that people are tired of your dirty tricks. The best way to defeat a bully is to stand up to them, and that is exactly what we are going to do. Tonight, we are sending a message that this Senate race will not be decided by the ugly kind of politics that people in Oregon and across the country are sick of. That time is over.

I’m exactly the person capable of changing things. You see I’m not a career politician, but I am a doctor, a mom, and someone very familiar with my opponent’s playbook. As President of the Oregon Medical Association, I ran our state’s TORT reform campaign — that was my first experience with hate mail. In 2009 I put my professional reputation on the line by appearing in television ads that ran nationwide warning people about the dangers of Obamacare — that was when I had to change my home phone number. In 2011 I ran and was elected to the board of trustees at the American Medical Association as a conservative change agent, to try and move that organization in a more balanced direction.

I say this not just to give you a bit of my biography, but to let you know that I have a long history of standing up for what I believe in.

Game on, Oregon.

Tags: Mitch McConnell , Matt Bevin , Alison Lundergan Grimes , Monica Wehby

Looking Ahead to Tuesday’s Not-So-Thrilling Primary Battles



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Looking Ahead to Tuesday’s Not-So-Thrilling Primary Battles

Boy, hype it much, USA Today?

Perhaps they don’t mean this coming Tuesday.

As a campaign correspondent, I’m arguing against interest by telling you that Tuesday’s primaries probably aren’t going to be that surprising or earth-shattering, but . . . come on. I can’t lie to you.

USA Today writes, “Senate contests in Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky are critical to determining who will control the Senate next year.” Okay, sure. But Tuesday’s primaries aren’t what make them critical.

In Kentucky, here’s the last Bluegrass poll before the primary:

The poll found that 55 percent of likely GOP voters support McConnell, while 35 percent favor Bevin. Three other Republican candidates split 5 percent of the vote, with the remaining 5 percent undecided.

But the poll found that McConnell is in a statistical dead heat with a November showdown looming, with 43 percent favoring her and 42 percent backing McConnell, a five-term incumbent. McConnell would do slightly better in a head-to-head match-up with Grimes than Bevin would.

Cheer up, Bevin fans — that 20-percentage-point ;margin for McConnell is his smallest lead yet! But, er . . . it’s pretty tough to make up that much ground in the final days.

As for the general election, that one-point lead for Grimes is the first she’s enjoyed since February, and only the second poll showing her ahead since . . . December 2012. McConnell’s no slam-dunk, but his sharp-elbowed, well-funded campaign went to work making sure Matt Bevin never amounted to a serious primary threat, and it appears to be on the verge of success. Let’s just see what happens when all of that advertising, organizing and volunteer firepower gets concentrated on his Democratic opponent.

Moving farther south, USA Today notes, “In Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican challenger Rep. Tom Cotton will clinch their respective nominations in a state considered one of the GOP’s best chances for a pickup because of the conservative lean of the state.” So again, there’s nothing dramatic or meaningful about Tuesday’s primary.

That race currently features a weird split in the polls. Three of the last six polls say incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor is doing fine — up 10 or 11 points. But the other three point to a close race — Pryor by 1, Cotton by 3, Pryor by 3. Undoubtedly, Cotton’s going to need to kick it up a notch in his television advertising — and most of his ads have been pretty darn good!

Finally,

In Georgia, a crowded seven-way Senate primary will be whittled to two for a July 22 runoff as no candidate is likely to earn the 50% necessary to clinch the nomination. The eventual winner will face Democrat Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, who Democrats have touted as their best 2014 recruit.

The runoff will probably go to David Purdue (former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General) and Representative Jack Kingston. (Karen Handel has a shot to make the runoff, but not a great one.) Purdue polled well against Nunn until very recently. This is Georgia, where Democrats last won a statewide race in 1998. Democrats are getting their hopes up about Nunn’s ability to run on her father’s reputation, but notice this little wrinkle:

Under Georgia law, any race in which no candidate clears 50 percent on Nov. 4 heads to a runoff between the top two candidates. And thanks to a court ruling delaying any federal runoffs so that overseas voters have sufficient time to cast their ballots, there will actually be two separate runoffs, if needed: one on Dec. 2, for the governor’s race, and another on Jan. 6, for the Senate contest. . . . 

The 2008 elections offer a relevant illustration. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss was just barely forced into a runoff after receiving 49.8 percent of the vote in November, while Democrat Jim Martin narrowly trailed with 46.8 percent. But in December, just a month later, turnout dropped by a hefty 43 percent, from 3.7 million to 2.1 million, and Chambliss triumphed by a wide margin, 57 to 43.

Could a Democrat beat a Republican head-to-head in a runoff election in Georgia? Sure, it’s possible. Just very, very, very difficult.

Tags: Mitch McConnell , Matt Bevin , Tom Cotton , Mark Pryor , Georgia

Why GOP Senate Candidates Shouldn’t Be Arguing About McConnell Now



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There’s been a lot of discussion — perhaps too much discussion — about Ben Sasse’s statement that he could “absolutely” vote for Mitch McConnell as GOP leader in the Senate if, as expected, he wins in November.

Theoretically, Mitch McConnell may not even be in the Senate next year; his lead in the polls in Kentucky against Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes is pretty slim lately. But let’s assume a longtime Republican incumbent with enormous resources and the ability to call in favors from just about anybody in the GOP wins a midterm election in Kentucky, which is usually a pretty safe bet.

At a gathering of Republicans in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, last month, Senator Tim Scott was asked whether he would support McConnell. Scott smiled and said, “I’m going to dodge that question,” — laughter from the audience — “and let me tell you why I’m going to dodge that question: Right now, I don’t know who’s going to be running for leader.”

Few would argue that Tim Scott is a RINO; for many reasons, public declarations of support for a GOP Senate leader in January 2015 are a lousy measuring stick for squish-itude. First, a reminder of who’s running the Senate these days:

Way to go, Nevada. Way to go.

How do you like Mitch McConnell? Well, compared to whom? Any conservative who scoffs, “anyone would be better than McConnell!” hasn’t thought the prospects through very well.

Paraphrasing a good monologue from Jay Nordlinger, conservatives used to lament that Senate minority leader Howard Baker was too soft, and that they needed a leader who was tougher, like Bob Dole. Then Dole disappointed them, and they felt refreshed and reassured at the prospect of Trent Lott. Several gargantuan, pork-laden appropriations cycles later, they warmed to the prospect of Bill Frist . . . and you can see where this is going.

The Senate Republican leader is never the most conservative member of the caucus, and the most conservative member of the caucus will never be the Senate Republican leader. Full stop. It’s the nature of the job; you have to be elected by a majority of your caucus and your role is, ideally, to lead the whole caucus and ideally be trusted by that whole caucus. A party leader has to build consensus, and it’s almost impossible to do if you’re defined yourself through your career at one extreme of the party (say, Susan Collins) or the other (say, Tom Coburn, lifetime ACU rating of 98).

Secondly, the most conservative member of the GOP Senate caucus very rarely wants to run for majority leader. One of the key roles as party leader is to negotiate with leaders of the opposite party and get the best deal you can. When you’re not in negotiations, it’s easy — and, admittedly, sometimes accurate — to say drawing a harder line could have gotten a better deal. Once you’re the leader doing the negotiating, you have the task of arguing that the half of loaf you’ve secured is the biggest fraction of the bread anyone could get — and now some other young whippersnapper is saying he could have gotten a better deal.

Maybe some other Senate Republican will challenge McConnell as leader in January 2015. Maybe (probably) not. There will be more time to worry about and debate this after Election Day — when we know whether or not Republicans will be selecting a Senate majority leader.

Tags: Ben Sasse , Harry Reid , Mitch McConnell

McConnell: ‘The Bill of Rights Does Not Come A La Carte’



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Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, addressed the National Rifle Association’s general meeting this afternoon, and delivered a passionate defense of both the Second and First Amendments. Informing the audience that he was a “proud lifetime member of the NRA,” McConnell suggested that the biggest risk that the gun-control movement currently poses is to privacy. “Look at what we saw in New York a little over a year ago,” he told the crowd, “when a newspaper published an interactive map of government data containing the names and addresses of law-abiding citizens with firearm permits.” In order to protect “the personal information of private gun owners,” McConnell explained, he had “supported legislation in the Senate last year that aims to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.” That legislation “would sanction any state or local government that publicly releases the personal information of private gun owners.” He wasn’t sure if it would pass.

McConnell also praised the number of jobs that the firearms industry is sustaining. “There are hundreds of Kentucky jobs generated by the firearms industry,” he confirmed. “I hope our vibrant Second Amendment culture results in even more job creation.”

Later, the senator touched on broader questions of constitutional integrity, reminding the crowd of his strong First Amendment record. “We’re here to talk about the Constitution,” he said. “And my message to you today is this: the Bill of Rights does not come a la carte. It’s not a pick and choose menu . . .  despite what some in Washington may think.” That “some” in question was “the current Administration,” and, McConnell suggested, they “see things differently.” The Obama administration, he contended, has “betrayed a really nasty side,” trying “to curb the rights of those they disagree with, whether it’s your right to bear arms or whether it’s your right to speak up without fear of government intimidation” and revealing “again and again how determined it is to shut up its critics” — people whose only “sin” is “advocating for causes in which they believe,” and “promoting things like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

“If you believe in the Constitution,” McConnell reasoned, “you defend all of it — not just the parts that happen to be popular at Washington cocktail parties. That’s the oath we take. That’s the charge we’re entrusted to keep.” But, he suggested, the “IRS targeting scandal showed just how determined the enemies of free speech really are. It was the kind of thing you’d expect from a banana republic, not the freest nation on Earth — which is exactly why people were so shocked by it.”

McConnell finished with a promise to push back. “We know we’re on the right side here,” he told the audience, “so let’s keep fighting for all of our constitutional freedoms — the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment, and the full array of rights and liberties our Constitution guarantees.

“The Founders would expect us to do no less,” he said. “And I know we’ll ultimately prevail.”

Tags: Mitch McConnell , NRA Convention 2014

FreedomWorks PAC Pledges Support to Bevin Over McConnell



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In other Kentucky Senate-race news, FreedomWorks PAC endorsed Matt Bevin, GOP challenger to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.

“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,” said FreedomWorks PAC president Matt Kibbe.

“FreedomWorks is an incredible grassroots organization with tens of thousands of Kentucky members. I am humbled and honored to receive their support. Voters here are seeing and feeling first hand the damage that Mitch McConnell’s 30 years of big government polices have had on our great Commonwealth. As a result, they are flocking to join forces with our campaign. This is a big endorsement and will accelerate our growing grassroots momentum. I am truly grateful for this vote of confidence,” said Matt Bevin.

There have been some cycles where FreedomWorks PAC has been very active, and spent a lot . . . 

The steep drop-off from the 2010 to 2012 cycle reflects in part the fact that FreedomWorks started supporting candidates through a new SuperPAC, FreedomWorks for America, formed in July 2011.

Looking back on that 2010 cycle, FreedomWorks PAC helped support some of the biggest conservative wins of the cycle, including Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky. But the PAC’s support wasn’t always a guarantee of victory in November. Their top four races, in terms of amount of money spent, were in West Virginia for John Raese’s Senate bid, in California for Carly Fiorina’s Senate bid, in Utah for Morgan Philpot’s House bid, and in Arizona for Ruth McClung’s House bid. None of those candidates won in November.

Tags: Mitch McConnell , Matt Bevin

‘Of course I’m sure. I read it in Newsweek.’



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Oh, Newsweek.

They meant former governor Bob McDonnell, not Senator Mitch McConnell. They have since deleted the Tweet

Everybody makes mistakes. But it’s a little more embarrassing when your slogan for your Twitter account is “get smarter, faster” and you illustrate your Twitter feed with a little word balloon saying “Of course I’m sure. I read it in Newsweek.”

Don’t be so sure!

Tags: Something Lighter , Bob McDonnell , Mitch McConnell

A Case for McConnell, Made in a Whisper



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Senator Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign released its first major television ads of the year, entitled “Cares” and “Strong Voice.”

The campaign characterizes the ads as “a significant, six-figure buy will air statewide on Kentucky television.” Both ads feature Robert Pierce, a Kentuckian who suffered from throat cancer after unknowingly being exposed to high levels of radiation while working at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. In the ads, Mr. Pierce describes the profound impact Senator McConnell has made on his life, and the lives of many other Kentuckians, saying, “He knocked down walls for us. He helped save people’s lives.”

“Mitch McConnell gives a voice to Kentucky’s working families. I know first-hand — he cares,” says Pierce. “Mitch gets results for Kentucky that no one else can. That’s why I would like to raise my voice. Because we are represented by a man who has fought hard for us — and always will.”

What makes the ad stand out from so many other political ads is Pierce, telling his tale in a whisper:

UPDATE: The campaign of Alison Lundergan Grimes is less impressed, declaring,

Today, McConnell launched a ‘new’ ad that is nearly identical to the same TV ad he ran in 2008, even using the same worker, Robert Pierce. McConnell uses this tactic for political gain, hiding the real story of his inaction on behalf of the health and safety of workers in Paducah.

The campaign points to this piece in the Huffington Post, critical of McConnell and his legislative legacy, painting the senator as far too cozy with the U.S. government’s uranium-enrichment plant.

McConnell’s 2008 ad can be found here; Pierce indeed appears, but he is only one of several workers featured in that ad.

Tags: Mitch McConnell

Get Ready for a Rough-and-Tumble GOP Primary in Kentucky



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Moments before Lousiville businesman Matt Bevin announced he was running for Senate in Kentucky, challenging incumbent Mitch McConnell, McConnell’s press team spotlights a Louisville Tea Party board member resigning from his post in a show of support for McConnell: “Scott Reed was a founding board member of the Louisville Tea Party in 2008 yet resigned from his post as Vice-President to run for state representative in 2012.  Reed said he resigned from his current board post about one month ago when Louisville Tea Party President Sarah Durand decided to back Bevin’s Republican Primary campaign and become Bevin’s spokeswoman.”

Katrina Trinko previewed the Bevin-McConnell fight; expect McConnell to go after Bevin’s business record and contend he took a bailout from the state of Connecticut; Bevin will argue McConnell has forgotten his conservative roots and become the face of Republican compromise in Washington.

 

Tags: Mitch McConnell , Matt Bevin , Kentucky

She’s the Democrats’ Great Hope in Kentucky? Her?



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Huge Jolt before the Independence Day holiday begins: A key provision of Obamacare is delayed; Obama fiddles as Egypt (and the rest of the Middle East) burns, and then these developments in Kentucky . . . 

Wait, This Is the Democrats’ Great Hope in Kentucky? Her?

Meet Alison Grimes, the woman Democrats are thrilled to have running against Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky:

Even Alison Lundergan Grimes didn’t know what she would announce to the world late Monday afternoon when she arrived at the building she used as the headquarters for her campaign in 2011. Or, at least, she didn’t let on to the more than 100 supporters she called there that she had made a decision about running for the U.S. Senate until the very end of the meeting.

Interviews with more than a half-dozen people who attended the meeting — several of whom asked not to be quoted — yielded descriptions of Grimes’s approach to the announcement as “unorthodox,” “unprecedented,” “fascinating” and, at times, “surreal.”

Instead of telling supporters whether she was running for Senate, Grimes opened it up for them to tell her what they thought. After the first several people spoke, Grimes began calling on others by name to give their takes. After nearly an hour, a consensus emerged: she should run for the party’s nomination to challenge U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell.

She’ll let you know what she’s decided regarding one of the most important decisions in her life . . . after her Committee of 100 gets back to her.

Of course, this sort of surprise, no-decision-until-the-Committee-of-100-speaks approach does have its, er, challenges:

On Tuesday, two very basic, stripped-down websites, grimesforsenate.com and alisonforsenate.com emerged without links to contribute money. It is not yet clear whether Grimes’s campaign controls those sites.

“Basic, stripped down”? That’s being generous. Let me put it this way: When you look like these . . . 

 . . . then no, neither she nor any allied organization owns those URLs, and the person who does is hoping to get a big check for them.

As for yesterday’s announcement, well . . . apparently it wasn’t the real campaign roll-out. That comes later.

The Grimes campaign says Monday’s announcement was not a rollout.

“Yesterday Alison was simply announcing her intentions to run. I’m certain when we do our rollout, you will see that this will be a top tier campaign and we will have the most professional organization in the state,” responded Hurst.

Do-over!

There’s a bizarre music video mocking Grimes from Mitch McConnell’s team. If you want to see her real announcement — before an “Allison Grimes for Secretary of State” banner — you can find it here.

“Boy, is her delivery wooden.” — Pinocchio.

Anyway, the primary argument from optimistic Democrats is that even though they haven’t won a U.S. Senate race in Kentucky since 1992, and even though Obama is phenomenally unpopular there, and even though Mitch McConnell is going to have roughly a bazillion dollars in his campaign account, and even though McConnell’s campaign team has elbows so sharp, they use them to remove staples, and even though turnout will likely be lower and more GOP-friendly in a midterm year, and even though a better Democratic candidate couldn’t beat newcomer Rand Paul in an open seat Senate race four years ago, and . . . er, wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, Democrats think they have a solid shot because McConnell’s poll numbers are pretty mediocre.

Of course, there’s this independent state house candidate in Kentucky who’s touting praise of himself from McConnell.

The independent campaign of John-Mark Hack in Central Kentucky’s special state House election came under fire Sunday for sending mailers with flattering comments about Hack by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and several prominent Democrats.

Republicans and Democrats associated with Hack’s opponents accused him of misleading voters by implying he had endorsements he had not received.

Anyway, if McConnell is this toxically unpopular incumbent, as Democrats believe . . . why does this independent candidate think it helps his odds to remind voters that McConnell likes him?

But credit where it’s due; Grimes can wear a purple hat roughly the size of a minivan way better than McConnell can:

The Joker called. He wants his tablecloth back.

Tags: Alison Lundergan Grimes , Mitch McConnell

Meet Alison Grimes’ Top Donors



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Progressive Democrats are elated that Alison Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state, will run against Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell in 2014.

I wonder if they realize that the top donors to her 2011 secretary of state bid include the Kentucky Bankers Association, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and the Steptoe & Johnson lobbying firm . . . a firm whose clients include the American Gas Association, the Institute of International Bankers, ChemTex International, the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, Peabody Energy (the largest private-sector coal company in the world) and shale-gas developers.

Eh, they’ve got a narrative that makes them feel good, so I guess they’ll probably stick to it. I suppose her donations from progressives’ least-favorite companies and industries is somehow . . . magically not compromising or something.

UPDATE: The University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato is skeptical that Grimes will grab the momentum: “Crystal Ball holds firm on Likely R rating. McConnell has enormous advantages in strongly anti-Obama Kentucky. Low turnout midterm, too.”

Tags: Alison Grimes , Mitch McConnell

Those Oh-So-Beatable Republicans With No Declared Rivals



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Heh:

The predictable buzz from the state Democratic Party convention was, “Watch out, Gov. Scott Walker. We’re coming for you next year!”

But when the question became exactly who Democrats will field to stop Walker from winning a second term in November 2014, the answer was: “We’ll get back to you . . .”

The argument for Walker’s alleged supreme vulnerability in a 2014 election sounds a lot like the one for Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Both states have plenty of Democrats who have run for statewide office, won races for statewide office, or mentioned interest in running for some other statewide office in the future. But for some strange reason, no Democrat has decided to run against the guy they insist is so beatable . . .

Tags: Scott Walker , Mitch McConnell

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