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Progressives seek wary alliance with tea party to oust Mitch McConnell

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, January 28, 2013 12:43 EDT
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A progressive super PAC in Kentucky is looking at getting in bed with the tea party in order to oust the six-term incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Hearing last week’s news that a coalition of tea party groups calling themselves the United Tea Party of Kentucky are targeting McConnell and interested in taking input from other outside groups, Progress Kentucky got in touch.

“What we’re finding — at least in this stage of the race — we’re finding that our interests align [with the tea party],” Progress Kentucky organizer Keith Rouda told Politico. “It’s unusual.”

Private democratic donors are getting in on the candidate-hunt too, Politico noted, offering to put money behind anyone who could credibly challenge the Senate’s top Republican. And all that cash can’t sound so bad to the United Tea Party folks.

“If he was interested in what we do and what we believe, he would be promoting legislation and putting forward small government ideas, but we haven’t seen that from him, so 30 years of media spin and political machine spin has run it’s course,” United Tea Party spokesperson John Kemper III told WSFA-TV.

The sentiment appears to be shared among all McConnell’s likely foes. Preston Bates, executive director of the conservative super PAC Liberty For All, told The Kansas City Star that the senator is “that special politician who could unite libertarians, independents, anti-war Democrats, everyone” against his re-election bid.

So far the state’s Democratic Party proper has not gotten involved, but a proxy war against McConnell could be seen as good strategy by Democrats to help soften up his campaign war chest ahead of the general election. It could also lead to a candidate in the general who’s much more conservative, similar to failed Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, who was heavily favored in the primary by people supporting Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Akin ultimately proved to be such a liability for national Republicans that his ill-informed comments about rape were credited for shifting public opinion in favor of reproductive rights.

Although McConnell’s spokesperson and longtime Ron Paul ally Jesse Benton insisted last week that the senator is “a true friend of the tea party,” it seems that could change if they field a candidate against him.

The only thing that could make McConnell’s re-election bid a higher-stakes contest is if actress Ashley Judd enters the race on the Democratic ticket, a threat that spooked McConnell bad enough to cause his campaign to leak some of its opposition research on her in December.

If that opposition research is any preview of the 2014 campaign to-be, and Judd’s emergence as a political force is in fact the Democrats’ endgame for dealing with McConnell, prepare to hear a lot about how outraged he is that she supposedly once said it is “unconscionable to breed” if there are starving children in the world.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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