Saying small businesses are the country’s backbone, the mayor of Newport, Ky., is endorsing Republican Matt Bevin for U.S. Senate in the upcoming primary election.
Republican Jerry Peluso was first elected mayor of the Northern Kentucky city, which sits across from Cincinnati, in 2008. He previously served on the city commission and as vice mayor.
In a news release, he says Bevin understands the challenges of running multiple businesses and how they work.
“As someone who knows firsthand about operating expenses such as insurance, taxes, utilities, and state and federal regulations, Matt Bevin will support small business by fight for their survival,” Peluso says.
The nod from a Kentucky Republican official is an important in-state pick up for the Bevin campaign, which is trailing McConnell by double-digits in most polls. Bevin has support from over a dozen Tea Party groups in the state and outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks.
“I am honored by Mayor Peluso’s endorsement and support of our campaign efforts in northern Kentucky,” Bevin said in a statement. “I appreciate all he does for small businesses in Newport. I’m honored to have this lifelong Kentuckian’s support and grateful that he’s joining our team.”
For most of the primary battle Bevin has mercilessly attacked McConnell’s record for not being conservative enough with Tea Party groups by his side.
That makes this endorsement all the more intriguing given Peluso was a lifelong Democrat until he switched parties in 2009, saying he is a moderate on some issues. Three years ago, the Newport mayor endorsed Democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign, saying the governor was “doing an outstanding job.”
And in December 2013, Peluso appeared to side with Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes’s in support a minimum wage hike.
From The River City News:
Peluso said. “I don’t know how people survive making $7.25 an hour. A lot of those people have children. I guess, everyone can’t have a college degree and if they did, where would everybody work? I think we need to take a position on that.”
Grimes called for an increase in the federal minimum wage on Wednesday.”Nearly one in four Kentucky workers would benefit from raising the minimum wage, but Mitch McConnell has turned his back on Kentucky’s working families by trying to do away with this legislation,” Grimes said on Facebook. “Kentuckians deserve wages that are consistent with our values.”
McConnell’s allies are likely to pounce on Peluso’s Democratic ties, but the nod demonstrates Bevin’s business acumen could be an asset for voters beyond the Tea Party base.