Wed February 20, 2013
Rand Paul Reticent About Potential Tea Party Challenger to Mitch McConnell
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul isn’t sure if Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin would pose a problem for Mitch McConnell in a primary election.
The wealthy investor acknowledged an interest in taking on McConnell and has been in discussion with Tea Party groups. A Bevin spokeswoman said several individuals have voiced "frustration with their current representation" in Washington.
Speaking in downtown Louisville on Wednesday, Paul says he has been following news reports about the race but hasn't had a chance to speak with Bevin directly.
"I haven’t had any real discussions with him or others about it other than to say I’ve heard the same rumors," says Paul. "I’ve met him before and I’m pretty sure he’s a supporter of mine."
According to federal campaign finance records, Bevin contributed close to $5,000 to Paul’s successful 2010 Senate race.
In the past three years, Bevin has passed hefty donations to state legislative GOP candidates, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and over $12,000 to the Republican Party of Kentucky directly.
State finance records show Bevin's contributions go beyond the establishment, however. He gave money to candidates backed by the Tea Party, including Republican Councilwoman Marilyn Parker and former Louisville Tea Party President Wendy Caswell, a Democrat, who ran for the state House.
Bevin was also an early supporter of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and donated $500 during his 2010 Democratic primary battle.
But as WFPL reported earlier this week, some Tea Party activists in the state have never heard of Bevin and are questioning if he should be considered a "tea party candidate" at all.
Paul told reporters he is backing McConnell’s re-election bid, but when asked why Tea Party activists in Louisville and across the state haven’t followed suit, Kentucky's junior senator was stumped.
"You know, I don't know if I have an answer really," he says.
Gabe Bullard contributed to this story.