FreedomWorks, a conservative activist group with Tea Party ties, comes out for Matt Bevin
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (CFP) — The conservative jihad against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky continues, with the group FreedomWorks endorsing McConnell’s Republican primary challenger, Matt Bevin.
“Matt Bevin is a great upgrade for Kentuckians who are serious about transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability in government,” said Matt Kibbe, the president of the FreedomWorks, in a January 22 statement.
McConnell’s campaign dismissed the endorsement, accusing FreedomWorks of changing its focus “from conservative reform to conservative cannibalism.”
FreedomWorks, which bills itself as a champion of smaller government and lower taxes, has a history of backing anti-establishment candidates in GOP primaries, including U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.
The group is backing Bevin even though the its own scorecard of Senate votes this year gives McConnell a rating of 73 out of 100.
In 2010, the group endorsed Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s successful challenge to Senate veteran Richard Lugar. Despite Indiana’s Republican tilt, Mourdock went on to lose in November after he said that if a woman gets pregnant during a rape, the pregnancy is “God’s plan.”
Republican leaders, including former Bush political consigliere Karl Rove, have been critical of FreedomWorks and two other prominent groups, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth, for backing weak contenders in Republican primaries, in the process helping Democrats keep control of the Senate.
The Senate Conservatives Fund has poured nearly $1 million into Bevin’s campaign, counting both direct contributions and independent expenditures made on his behalf. The Club for Growth has not yet entered the Kentucky race.
Bevin, 47, of Louisville is a former investment adviser who now runs his family’s bell manufacturing company in New Hampshire. This is his first run for political office.
McConnell, 71, has been in the Senate since 1985. He was elected GOP leader in 2007 and would become majority leader if he wins re-election and Republicans pick up the six seats they need to take control.
McConnell has a substantial financial advantage over Bevin, outraising him by a 10-to-1 margin.
Whoever wins the Republican primary will face Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is the only Democrat in race.
McConnell is the Democrats’ top Senate target in 2014 and likely the only chance they have to pick up a seat anywhere in the South.