Kentucky’s most popular sports radio host is apparently targeting GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and hoping to add to his defeat in his likely upcoming election.
Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones is an unabashed, out and proud left-winger and has set himself up as Mitch McConnell’s antagonist openly announcing that he will work to defeat McConnell if the Senator decides to run for office again in 2020, Politico reported in an extensive March 26 review.
Jones is particularly piqued by the fact that McConnell won’t pick a particular college basketball team to support. The Majority Leader holds degrees from both the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. Yet, McConnell has refused to play favorites between the two, insisting he supports both.
Indeed, in a recent call to Jones’ radio show, McConnell said, “It is OK — I know it’s probably not acceptable to you, as an Obama enthusiast — but it’s OK to be for both Louisville and Kentucky.”
Basketball aside, Jones thinks McConnell has been bad for Kentucky.
“What has Mitch McConnell done to help Kentucky?” Jones said during his Politico interview. “Mitch McConnell has been a master—a master,” he says, “at helping wealthy business interests get wealthier. If there is a rich guy Hall of Fame, he should be in it.”
A big supporter of unions, Jones is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, and espouses an unexceptional list of left-wing beliefs; but he is one man many Kentucky liberals think might be the ideal candidate to run against McConnell if the Senator decides to run again in 2020.
Jones apparently believes his own hype. “If it’s Mitch McConnell, I can win. And no other Republican will, and I don’t think any other Democrat can. But I can,” the 39-year-old radio host boasted to Politico.
Jones then admitted that he is a strict “ideologue” and not a politician. “I’m not a politician. I’m an ideologue,” he said, “and I think we’re in a time when ideologues win.”
The Kentucky native fashions himself as “the common fan” and thinks he has his finger on the pulse of average Kentucky voters. But he has also successfully made the move from just sports to political commentary by starting a liberal TV show entitled, Hey Kentucky!, where he routinely attacks Republicans. After branching out from sports, Jones has moderated political debates, hosted political events, and launched the New Kentucky Project, a liberal advocacy group to urge new people to run for office.
Jones’ success has excited Kentucky some liberals and even sparked a movement that urged him to run for the 6th Congressional District. However, after initially saying he would run, Jones dropped out after being told by the Democrat Party that fundraising was more important than ideas. “And that was one of the most depressing things I’d ever heard,” Jones said.
But this time it might be different. Jones says he wants “that battle” of ideas with McConnell. “The idea that a dorky kid from Middlesboro, who lived with his mom, could take down the most powerful politician this state has seen since Henry Clay — how could you not do that?” he said.
Jones is also buoyed by McConnell’s low approval ratings. According to Politico: “One Public Policy Polling survey in August found just 18 percent of Kentucky respondents approved of the job McConnell was doing, while 74 disapproved. A Morning Consult poll in October found 33 percent of those surveyed approved and 55 percent disapproved — making McConnell the least popular senator in the country.”
If the radio talker runs, it will be as a populist, Politico says. Jones will try to run away from his doctrinaire left-wing ideals and will likely insist that he represents the common man against a Senate leader who kowtows only to the elites.
“We are on the right side of history on all of these issues,” Jones said, “but it’s not gonna matter in this state if we don’t get our act together.” He went on to warn the Democrat Party saying, “In my opinion, we’ve got three to five years to make a move” or “not just the progressive movement, but the moderate movement in this state is done.”
In fact, Jones seems to be positioning himself as the liberal Donald Trump, an outsider who won’t employ the typical political solutions but will go for “common sense” solutions — only from the left, whereas Trump has governed from the right.
“I wish the people that I love didn’t like Donald Trump,” Jones told Politico, “but I understand why they do.”
Jones says he is “not someone who will do the game that people do now, on both sides, of ‘this is a good person and that is a bad person.’” He frequently states that he would prefer to talk about issues rather than people, good and bad characteristics instead of good and bad folks. He points to Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who drew national headlines in 2015 for her refusal to approve same-sex marriage proposals, as an example. Jones says he understands the hearts of evangelical conservatives like Davis far better than those who condemn them: “I know people like Kim Davis, and you don’t.”
Still, many Democrats in Kentucky think that Jones is just blowing his horn to push his radio and TV shows and isn’t a serious candidate at all.
In the end, the proof will come after McConnell decides if he is going to run for re-election. Until then, Matt Jones will continue to enjoy the Democrat spotlight in the Bluegrass State.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.