Louisville Metro Councilwoman Marilyn Parker, R-18, is urging fellow Tea Party activists to think twice before taking on Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014.
McConnell opened his re-election headquarters in Louisville over the weekend, and promised a vigorous campaign. In recent weeks, more than a dozen Tea Party groups from around the state have warned they are lining up an opponent to take on the GOP leader.
Parker attend the opening and told WFPL many in the Tea Party are upset with McConnell’s leadership, particularly when it comes to federal spending.
But the East End Republican says McConnell’s position is too important to risk, and that he has stood up against President Obama’s agenda in Washington.
“I think we are at a very tenuous time in the country, and it’s important that’s not jeopardized at this time,” she says.
“The Tea Party understands that there is so much at stake for this country. They understand that. But that is also why I think that we shouldn’t put any question to this Senate seat.”
Before being elected to the council last fall, Parker was known as a Tea Party activist who consistently spoke out against tax increases and the student assignment plan at Jefferson County school board meetings. She beat incumbent Jon Ackerson in a razor-thin primary battle where she was backed heavily by the Louisville Tea Party.
Despite vocal opposition from state groups, McConnell continues to court the Tea Party in Kentucky as his re-election approaches. As Pure Politics’s Ryan Alessi reports, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a Tea Party favorite, has been praising McConnell at public appearances across the state.
A recent poll shows only 34 percent of GOP votes would support McConnell against all comers. Other Tea Party activists say there’s plenty of time to recruit a primary challenge, but acknowledge Parker’s argument could help shore up the senator’s conservative wing.
“Anybody in the political realm—Tea Party or not—should be cautious about weighing-in on a race 15 months away when there’s no opponent,” says Tea Party activist David Adams. “Someone from a leadership position making a statement like that is bound to be persuasive in possibly a lot of places, but again we’re not ready to return fire so to speak, so we’ll have to get to that point first.”
Parker hasn’t formally endorsed McConnell, but plans to defend the GOP leader’s record publicly and explain to Tea Party activists why he deserves re-election.
“If I happen to be at the right place at the right time, then I will try to get this message out,” Parker says. “I do think that it’s very important that we keep this Senate seat and we have a strong leader with institutional knowledge.”