A Kentucky businessman has been quietly reaching out to local Tea Party and grass roots organizations, testing the waters for a primary challenge against GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Matt Bevin is owner of Bevin Manufacturing Co, a firm founded 160 years ago. He was also CEO of an investment management firm. He is potentially the first Tea Party challenger to emerge for the 2014 midterms.
Sarah Duran, President of the Louisville Tea Party told The Hill, “We met with him to just discuss our feelings about the Senator, our feelings about someone running against him, what the challenges would be, the risks involved.”
McConnell is not unaware of a potential primary challenge. He has been fundraising aggressively and has more than $7 million so far banked for the campaign. Presumably, though, Bevin’s personal wealth would give him the resources to match McConnell’s spending.
Democrats also believe McConnell is vulnerable in the general and view the seat as one of their few real pick-up opportunities. A tough primary fight might damage McConnell in the general if he is forced into a close contest. A strong showing in a primary, however, might boost McConnell for the general.
There has been wide speculation about a handful of Tea Party activists challenging incumbent GOP Senators next year. Karl Rove has promised his SuperPAC will be more involved in primaries, to ensure that candidates he believes are more “electable” prevail. Americans for Prosperity and Tea Party Patriots, among other groups, have announced their own efforts to prepare for primaries next year. It is no secret that these recent announcements largely were in reaction to Rove’s recent statements.
Kentucky may emerge as the biggest battle between the two sides.