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August 01, 2013 11:48 AM Despicable Mitch

By Ed Kilgore

As noted in the last post, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been snuggling up to his junior Senate colleague from Kentucky, Rand Paul, whose career he tried very hard to short-circuit back in 2010. The main reason, of course, is that McConnell is facing a serious primary challenge next year from potential self-funder Matt Bevin, who could eventually become the Richard Mourdock of 2014, attracting national conservative support against a Republican Establishment icon who seems to have gotten too big for his britches.

Here’s a taste of how hard-core movement conservative types feel about this race, from RedState’s Daniel Horowitz:

Next year, we will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to foment a bloodless revolution to completely change the leadership in Washington. Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of working with a few dedicated people to help a number of gifted patriots storm the castle of the political class and change the dynamic in Washington. The first man to step forward is, perhaps, the most impressive of all. Matt Bevin, a gifted entrepreneur, loving father of nine, and prolific philanthropist, has stepped up to be the modern-day Paul Revere and has the intrepid courage to fight the political class in a way that few are willing to do.
The enormity of this race simply cannot be overstated. This is a man who has so much to lose and very little to gain by challenging the sitting party leader in the primary. But it must be done if we ever hope to take back the party and the Republic. He is already making a difference by challenging the party leader on current issues, such as amnesty and defunding Obamacare.

McConnell’s more fundamental problem is that he just doesn’t have any wellsprings of affection among Kentucky voters he can draw upon. A new PPP survey shows his job approval/disapproval ratio in the state coming in at a uninspiring 40/51. And he can’t dispose of Bevin just by going crazy Right, because he also faces a formidable general election opponent in KY Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who actually leads McConnell in that same PPP poll by a point (45/44).

Now few pundits expect Mitch to actually lose, but aside from the bottomless treasury he can raise from hungry K Street interests, his main asset is his reputation as a a guy who will stoop to any available tactic to win (as Roger Alford noted blandly but accurately earlier this year: “Never hugely popular with his constituents, McConnell has managed to win elections by making his opponents even more unpopular.”).

So with strong primary and general election opposition, you can expect Mitch to double down on his Darth Vader act and try to drown his opponents in a nastily cesspool of a campaign. If he wins, nobody but people clinging to his filthy coattails will celebrate. And if he loses, he’ll be missed like a lingering cold.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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