Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has built up an impressive war chest for his re-election bid in 2014, but with millions raised it’s the GOP leader’s budding relationship with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that is his greatest asset.
According to Federal Election Commission, the GOP leader raised over $1 million in the first three months of 2011. Overall, McConell has garnered $7.9 million, with $5.1 in campaign cash on hand. Then there’s the political action committees and Super PACs raising money on McConnell’s behalf.
But what’s more telling is the lack of a Republican insurgent lining up to take on McConnell as other veteran GOP lawmakers have seen (see: Dick Lugar of Indiana and Orin Hatch of Utah). A big reason for that is the growing friendship with Sen. Paul, who helps McConnell buffer Tea Party challengers.
From Roll Call:
David Adams, an influential Kentucky tea party organizer who was the campaign manager for Paul’s primary campaign, said “there’s no one even talking about” running against McConnell. “It’s a list right now that is zero,” he said, noting that in the tea party movement in Kentucky, “an excess of anger has led to a resurgence of apathy” as people are feeling that little can be done about the growing debt and deficit.
Any tea party candidate looking to take on McConnell, who had $5.1 million in the bank at the end of March, would have two distinct disadvantages, Bluegrass State political operatives said. The candidate would not be able to raise nearly as much money as McConnell will have, and Paul probably won’t support him or her.
University of Louisville Political Science Professor Dewey Clayton says McConnell knew after Paul beat former Secretary of State Trey Grayson two years ago, that forging a working relationship with Tea Party icon was vital to his own future.
“That’s clearly going to blunt some of the supposed ability of the Tea Party to go after McConnell. He’s a smart and shrewd politician,” says Clayton. “And I think he saw early on that the tea party might be a problem and clearly solidifying a relationship with Sen. Paul was definitely a smart move on his part in looking toward 2014.”
The Roll Call piece notes that Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes are possible general election challengers, however, note that among the comments is a biting observation from former state Auditor Crit Luallen, who says building a narrative against McConnell won’t be difficult.
“He’s lost touch with the people of Kentucky. His real focus is on his national leadership role,” she told Roll Call, adding Kentucky needs a Senator “not so caught up in the partisan rancor in Washington.”
Mitt v. Crit—2014?