I, too, believe Washington, D.C. is not working for Kentucky.
I, too, believe that the federal government should help or get out of the way.
I, too, want Republicans and Democrats to work together to cut spending and to help Kentucky businesses create jobs…
Join me, and let us work together to create change. Yes, we are in different parties, and we have divergent views on some issues. But if you believe that we need a fresh face to shake up Washington, I invite you to join our campaign.
If you believe that it is past time to give Mitch McConnell and his D.C. lobbyist cronies the boot, I welcome you to join our effort to elect an independent, commonsense problem solver who will fight for Kentucky values.
Is there any evidence that tea partiers disgusted with Mitch the Knife might be open to this pitch? Sort of. Remember this table from one of the last polls of the primary?
Twenty-five percent of “conservative” voters were open to voting for Alison Grimes. Granted, 21 percent of “liberals” were open to McConnell, but there are no hard feelings potentially blocking those voters from coming home to the Democrats in November. Among Republicans, there are lots of hard feelings. Read the intro to this CNN piece from a few days ago in which an annoyed Bevin shows off a “Fraud Alert” that Team Mitch sent around about him. Quote: “It’s unbelievable. It’s crap. This is how he has run his entire race. He’s attacking me for being a member of the tea party while threatening to crush these people and punch them in the nose.” His anger was, per CNN, a source of “amusement” to the McConnell camp. Politico got an even more interesting quote from Bevin the day after he was blown out: “You can’t punch people in the face, punch people in the face, punch people in the face, and ask them to have tea and crumpets with you and think it’s all good.”
Or can you?
Matt Bevin responds to Alison Grimes' letter to his supporters. Basically says no dice without explicitly endorsing Mitch McConnell.
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) May 23, 2014
"Kentucky and America do need real change," Bevin writes, but not Grimes' "proposed platform of government expansion."
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) May 23, 2014
No one believes that Bevin’s going to endorse Grimes. He’s young by political standards; if Rand Paul is blocked by law from running for president and Senate in 2016, Bevin might jump into the Senate primary to replace him. He’d be DOA in two years if he embraces the Democrat outright but maybe not DOA if he declares that, as a matter of conservative conscience, he can’t endorse anyone in the race. Besides, how much would it really matter to Mitch-haters if Bevin did endorse McConnell? Support for Bevin on the right was never about him personally; it was a pure “Not Mitch” coalition. Whether that endures or disintegrates as hard feelings soften has little to do with Bevin at this point.
It’s interesting, though, that McConnell is sufficiently worried about tea partiers staying home that he’s already trotting out Rand Paul to make the case for unity. Everyone expected Rand to campaign for him, but I didn’t think we’d see him talking up McConnell’s conservative bona fides three days after the primary — especially since tea-party groups have, commendably, already moved to closed ranks around McConnell. There is, though, something to be said for the idea that Mark Levin was kicking around (but not quite endorsing) the other day about conservatives staying home in the general election to send a message to establishment brawlers like McConnell. It comes at a steep cost in potentially losing a red-state Senate seat, but if you want to truly terrify Beltway Republicans who stray too far from the tea-party line, one lone general-election boycott — at the minority leader’s expense, no less — would do it like nothing else. It’s not going to happen, but again, it’s interesting that Team Mitch is taking nothing for granted.
Exit question: Does McConnell’s plan to repeal ObamaCare also include repealing Kentucky’s state insurance exchange? Oddly, he’s noncommittal on the question.