Seeking a sixth term, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has hired a Tea Party strategist who led campaigns for fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
McConnell announced he hired Jesse Benton as his campaign manager for re-election on Thursday despite having no primary or general election opponent. Benton led Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential primary race and worked for Rand Paul’s Senate bid as well.
“We’re committed to running a presidential-level campaign in Kentucky, and that starts with a presidential campaign manager,” McConnell told The Washington Post. “Jesse is literally the best in the business at building and organizing conservative grassroots movements, and I’m thrilled he’s chosen to return to Kentucky to lead my campaign.”
Much has been written about McConnell’s relationship with the Tea Party in his home state and his colleague Rand Paul.
The relationship with Paul appears to have gotten past any bitterness over McConnell supporting Paul’s 2010 primary opponent, but many at the grassroots level still voice distrust for the GOP leader and want him to be challenged.
From LEO Weekly:
Frank Harris, a devoted Tea Partier from Lexington, carried a sign that read “There’s no tea in Mitch,” telling multiple media outlets that an unrepentant McConnell was trying to co-opt the movement in order to avoid a Tea Party primary challenge, which he supports.
Jay Weyland, of Cynthiana, who stood in the front of the crowd with a sign that read “The Income Tax is Immoral,” agrees this was a transparent act of desperation from a man who fears political extinction.
With a hefty war chest, the choice of Brenton is already being praised by Republican operatives as a brilliant—possibly shrewd—choice to scare off any potential Tea Party primary challengers further.