On Thursday, Newport, Kentucky Mayor Jerry Peluso endorsed Matt Bevin, who is challenging incumbent Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in May’s Kentucky Republican Senate primary.
In a statement, Peluso cited Matt Bevin’s small business background as a main factor for his endorsement. “As someone who knows firsthand about operating expenses such as insurance, taxes, utilities, and state and federal regulations, Matt Bevin will support small business by fighting for their survival,” Peluso stated.
Peluso was elected mayor of Newport as a Democrat in 2008. According to WFPL, “Peluso was a lifelong Democrat until he switched parties in 2009, saying he is a moderate on some issues. Three years ago, the Newport mayor endorsed Democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign, saying the governor was ‘doing an outstanding job.'”
WFPL also noted that “in December 2013, Peluso appeared to side with Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in support a minimum wage hike.”
Bevin issued a press statement on his campaign website Thursday promoting Peluso’s endorsement. “I am honored by Mayor Peluso’s endorsement and support of our campaign efforts in northern Kentucky. I appreciate all he does for small businesses in Newport. I’m honored to have this life-long Kentuckian’s support and grateful that he’s joining our team,” he said in the statement.
The McConnell campaign quickly pounced on the Peluso endorsement. A spokesperson for Senator McConnell told Breitbart News in an emailed statement Thursday, “Matt Bevin has a history of donating to liberal Democrats and has failed to support our Republican nominees. Today, he is touting the endorsement of a lifelong Democrat, moderate mayor who praises the platform of Democrat Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, endorsed Steve Beshear for Governor and actively works against Republican efforts to take back the majority in the Kentucky State House.”
The spokesperson added, “Today’s endorsement shows us what Matt Bevin’s quixotic campaign has been reduced to: receiving endorsements from moderate lifelong Democrats who work against, not for Republicans.”
Breitbart News asked the Bevin campaign to respond to the McConnell spokesperson’s characterization of his campaign but has not yet received a comment.
A spokesperson for the Bevin campaign told Breitbart News in an emailed statement, “We’re proud to have the support of Republicans everywhere including the Mayor of Newport. Not to mention the over 20,000 who have donated to Matt’s campaign.”
Scott Hoffstra, spokesperson for the United Kentucky Tea Party which has endorsed Bevin, told Breitbart in an emailed statement, “The McConnell campaign has no room to be throwing stones, after all, Mitch McConnell supported and endorsed Trey Grayson, Democrat turned Republican in the primary race against Rand Paul.”
“Trey Grayson is now the director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government,” he continued. “By all accounts, a far left branch of the Democrat policy machine. Trey Grayson’s far left beliefs would have been a disaster for Kentucky had he won the election.”
Hoffstra added that “Mayor Peluso’s endorsement shows… Matt is a very conservative, pro-business candidate who has the ability to reach across the aisle to create jobs and support small businesses. Something that Mitch McConnell and the GOP leadership have not had the vision or ability to accomplish.”