Wed July 24, 2013
Republican Senate Candidate Matt Bevin Touts Conservative Beliefs, Differences with Mitch McConnell
Saying it is time to take the country back from "elite, professional" politicians, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin officially announced he is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to overthrow incumbent Mitch McConnell.
Bevin is a 46-year-old investment executive and military veteran who owns a bell making company in Connecticut. He has never run for public office before, but Bevin did contribute to Sen. Rand Paul's Senate campaign in 2009.
For months, Bevin has been meeting with Tea Party groups in the state leading up to this primary bid.
The United Kentucky Tea Party endorsed Bevin immediately, saying his private sector experience makes him an entrepreneur with the knowledge to "balance a budget."
And for most of the speech, Bevin outlined his conservative vision for the country, advocating for less government spending, lower taxes and a full repeal of President Obama's health care law.
"I’m asking you to join me in a pledge. A pledge our Founding Father took very, very seriously. A pledge to devote our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to take back our country from the elite, professional (and) career politicians who are destroying the very fabric of our country," he says.
Bevin says entering the GOP primary isn't about McConnell personally, but in a TV ad launched Wednesday makes it clear the Bevin campaign plans to tap into conservative frustration with the five-term senator.
From the Bevin camp:
The McConnell campaign launched a preemptive strike before Bevin's announcement in a new ad and website targeting the political newcomer. It continues the narrative that Bevin is a "East Cost con man" as Team Mitch put it last week.
"Mitch McConnell is Kentucky's greatest advocate and he fights his heart out for our commonwealth every day. Mitch is working hard to bring all Kentuckians—Republicans, TEA Partiers, Independents and conservative Democrats—together to stand against the liberal Obama agenda in Washington," says McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton.
Asked about the early criticism, Bevin says the McConnell ad about his business dealings are completely false and a sign the senator doesn’t want to discuss the issues.
"The fact is Mitch McConnell has been a proponent of big government bailouts, of faulty spending and enlarging the size of government for far too long," says Bevin. "He pretends to be a conservative when it’s to his advantage to do so because he’s running for re-election. And I challenge Mitch McConnell to stand up and defend his record for the last 30 years."
McConnell backers point to at least two Tea Party activists who are endorsing the senator along with Paul's continue support, who acknowledge losing the GOP leader's seniority cannot be overlooked. But an overwhelming number of rank-and-file activists in Kentucky say the movement is against re-electing McConnell despite his campaign's argument of influence. Those who attended Bevin's rollout say the contrast with McConnell's votes on the bank bailouts, debt limit and Patriotic Act were just one part of their reason for supporting the Tea Party contender. "We liked Matt's entrepreneurial spirit and loved the fact he has a debt free approach not only to his businesses, but to his personal life and we believe he would bring that to the Senate," says Bowling Green Tea Party leader Jenean Hampton. "We spent hours with Matt, grilling him and we were just really impressed with his work ethic and energy." A number of national conservative groups outside the state also indicated they are open to supporting Bevin in the primary such as Senate Conservative Fund and the Madison Project. However, other groups such as Club for Growth are remaining neutral until they can determine if their involvement is warranted.