- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2014

The Tea Party Patriots’ super PAC endorsed Matt Bevin Friday in his race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky GOP primary.

Jenny Beth Martin, president of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, said that Mr. Bevin, a Louisville businessman, is a “job creator, family man, and community leader committed to fighting for personal freedom, economic freedom and a debt-free future.”

“Unlike the incumbent, Matt Bevin has never voted to raise the debt ceiling, has never cut a deal with Joe Biden to raise taxes by $600 billion, and has never worked to ‘crush’ his political opponents,” Ms. Martin said.

Mr. McConnell has come under fire from tea party and grassroots conservative groups, including last month after he helped Democrats pass a plan that let President Obama borrow as much money as he needed to cover federal obligations for 13 months.

Mr. McConnell fired back earlier this month, predicting that tea party backed challengers in primary races were doomed.

“I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” he told The New York Times. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”

Mr. Bevin and Mr. McConnell will face off in the May 20 primary and the winner will go on to run against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, Secretary of State of Kentucky.

A February poll from the Louisville Courier Journal showed that Mr. McConnell held a 55 percent to 29 percent lead over Mr. Bevin. It also showed that Mr. McConnell trailed Ms. Grimes in a potential general election match by 4 points, and the Democrat led Mr. Bevin 43 percent to 38 percent.

The Bevin camp says that previous primary challengers have come back from similar polling gaps.

Mr. Bevin is a political newcomer and in the most recent poll, which was released in February, trailed Mr. McConnell, who has served in Congress since 1985, by a 59 percent to 17 percent margin.

The latest campaign finance reports showed that Mr. Bevin had $523,000 cash on hand, while Mr. McConnell had $10.8 million.

Mr. Bevin has received endorsements from the Senate Conservative Fund, the Madison Project and Freedomworks.

Mr. McConnell, meanwhile, has received the endorsement of fellow Sen. Rand Paul, a tea party favorite, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Ms. Martin suggested that Mr. McConnell has been in the Senate for too long, saying he allowed Congress to spend too much and accumulate too much debt.

“Senator McConnell worked with the Obama Administration to raise taxes, has voted to raise the debt ceiling ten times, and has added pork barrel projects to further his own career instead of the needs of the American people,” she said. “That’s just not the kind of Senator Kentucky needs, and that’s another reason we are joining Tea Party members in Bluegrass state in supporting Matt Bevin.”

This week the Tea Party Patriots Citizen Fund also endorsed state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s challenge to veteran GOP Sen. Thad Cochran in the June 3 Mississippi primary.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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