Matt Bevin launches campaign against McConnell

Tea party activist Matt Bevin has kicked off his campaign against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) with an ad painting the minority leader as a failed aisle-crosser.

"Mitch McConnell has had a long career in politics. But after 30 years in politics, is his leadership really the best that we can do?" Bevin asks. "America deserves more than failed leadership. We can do better."

A narrator chimes in, saying that "McConnell has voted for higher taxes, bailouts, debt ceiling increases, congressional pay raises, and liberal judges." Bevin, on the other hand, is described as a "successful businessman, father of nine, veteran, conservative, Republican."

The Senate Conservatives Fund, a PAC once affiliated with former senator Jim DeMint, might back Bevin's bid.

"We're open to supporting Matt Bevin's campaign and will be waiting to see if the grassroots in Kentucky unite behind him," executive director Matt Hoskins said. "If McConnell doesn't respect the voters enough to defend his own record, he doesn't deserve to be in the Senate."

The anti-tax Club for Growth is also keeping an eye on Bevin.

“We’re watching the race,” spokesman Barney Keller said.

But Bevin will not have the support of the state's most prominent tea party ally, Sen. Rand Paul (R).

"Mitch McConnell is a proven conservative who stands strong for Kentucky in the face of President Obama’s big government agenda in Washington," the freshman senator said in a statement.

Although McConnell backed Paul's opponent in his 2010 Senate primary, the senior senator has taken pains to win over his colleague and his supporters. He even hired Paul's campaign manager.

Even before Bevin announced his campaign, McConnell was out with his own ad labeling his primary opponent “Bailout Bevin” and noting that Bevin’s business — which is based in Connecticut — accepted $200,000 in bailout funds.

Bevin is kicking off his campaign against McConnell with a three-day tour of the state.

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Aaron Blake | July 24, 2013