WASHINGTON. December 2, 2013 — In the Bluegrass state, there is a war being waged by two faux conservatives.
One is Mitch McConnell. He is the Senate Minority Leaders and the incumbent in Kentucky. The other is Matt Bevin, who is his challenger.
Bevin is a businessman, originally from Maine, who moved to Kentucky in 1999. McConnell is now regarded as the Godfather of Kentucky politics.
Neither is a conservative.
McConnell is symptomatic of what is wrong in Washington. He has been there since 1985. He is known around Washington as a deal maker, and that is the huge problem with Mitch McConnell.
Last year, when the fiscal cliff negotiations hit an impasse, McConnell reached out to Joe Biden and the two hammered out an agreement. That agreement resulted in higher taxes and higher tax rates. It did nothing to cut spending.
It was a massive accomplishment — for liberals.
Since 2011, when Republicans took back the Senate, the Tea Party has been asking, pleading and begging Republicans to stand up and fight. McConnell’s answer is always to promise to fight — next time. The next fight will be the right fight with the right timing.
The problem is that for McConnell, the right time never comes.
When Ted Cruz stood and fought, he stood at the last minute. Either Obamacare would be defunded from the budget or it would become another permanent government program.
Despite all of McConnell’s protestations that he wanted Obamacare defunded and repealed, he whipped votes to break the filibuster and stabbed Ted Cruz in the back.
In the process of ending the government shutdown, McConnell scored a $3 billion kickback, or in the language of Washington politicians, an earmark for a dam in Kentucky.
Many conservatives have come out for Matt Bevin. Some Tea Party groups have as well, though Bevin himself said in September, he has never been a member of a Tea Party group.
That is the real problem with Matt Bevin: He has no record to run on. Unlike the conservative challengers running against Lamar Alexander in Tennessee and Lindsay Graham in South Carolina, who do have extensive conservative records, Bevin is a blank slate.
In 2010, Scott Brown ran for the Senate seat in Massachusetts that had opened up with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. Brown ended up with a lot of Tea Party support. Many conservatives believed the hype about Brown and some Tea Party activists even declared him the next Ronald Reagan.
Those who followed his career knew what Brown was. He was a moderate Massachusetts Republican, and that is exactly how he behaved in the Senate. He disappointed many in the Tea Party, and when he ran 2012, they did not give him the level of support they gave him the first time.
He lost to Elizabeth Warren.
Bevin’s biggest asset is the fact he is not Mitch McConnell. That is his only asset.
For conservatives, the top priority for 2014 must be the defeat of Mitch McConnell. McConnell has chosen to make war on the Tea Party, and that can be neither forgiven nor forgotten.
McConnell’s vision of the future of the Republican Party is of a party that is simply the junior partner on the road to statism. That is a vision that real Americans do not share, and politicians like Mitch McConnell are the reason the Tea Party came into being.
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