Bevin, potential GOP primary candidate, cites broad encouragement to challenge McConnell

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by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 6:17 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- A potential GOP primary challenger to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell tells WHAS11 that he is being encouraged to consider entering the race by fellow Republicans, tea party members and independent voters.

"Every single one of them has reasons for feeling frustrated with their current representation in Washington," said Matt Bevin, a Louisville businessman whose name surfaced on Monday as a possible senate candidate.

"Some are angry about the decades of spending like a drunken sailor at future tax payers expense.  Others wonder exactly how long is long enough for the same person to be representing them," Bevin said in an e-mail to WHAS11's Joe Arnold and The Hill reporter Alex Bolton.  "Still others think that the 'good ole boy' network in Washington is more the problem than the solution."

"The list goes on," Bevin continued.  "I am simply listening."

McConnell, the longest serving senator in Kentucky history, was first elected to the Senate in 1984.  A consummate campaigner and architect of the modern Republican Party in Kentucky, McConnell campaigned for re-election in 2008 by touting his influence in Washington and ability to bring home a disproportionate amount of federal dollars to fund Kentucky projects.  After the tea party swept Rand Paul into the U.S. Senate from Kentucky in 2010, defeating a candidate McConnell endorsed in the GOP primary, McConnell has embraced the spending cut message and forged an alliance with Paul. 

In August, McConnell hired Paul's 2010 general election campaign manager, Jesse Benton, to manage his 2014 campaign.  Benton also ran Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign.

Bevin said various constituencies of the Republican Party seem to be coalescing "quite nicely."

"A viable candidate should not have great difficulty in marshaling the requisite troops," he wrote.

"I am a registered Republican and have only and always been a registered Republican," Bevin said.  "That said, I do not always blindly vote the party line.  That simplistic approach to electing leaders is part of what is destroying our national discourse on substantive issues.  If I wanted to be told how, where and when to vote, I would move to Russia."

Bevin said he was writing from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.  A devout Christian, the married father of nine children is in the African nation working on security at orphanages and improving the quality of veterinary science in Ethiopia. Bevin is later scheduled to speak at the Young Presidents Organization Global Leadership Conference in Istanbul, Turkey.

In the latest e-mail, as well as in a brief interview in Louisville on Monday with WHAS11, Bevin stressed that others had initiated the idea of him becoming a candidate.

"At this time, I am simply listening to those who want to talk with me about a potential primary race," Bevin said.

Bevin is a partner at Waycross Partners, a Louisville hedge fund.  He is the founder and former CEO of Integrity Asset Management in Louisville (the investment management firm was sold to a Michigan firm in 2010).

A  former U.S. Army officer, Bevin also owns Bevin Brothers Mfg. Co. in East Hampton, Connecticut.  The bell making company was founded by Bevin's great-great-great-grandfather in 1832.

The factory was destroyed by fire in May, 2012.  In November, Bevin explained how he decided to rebuild in an interview with CTNow.com.

"My Christian faith is a very significant part of who I am," Bevin said in the 2012 interview.  "And, this was something I prayed about a lot because I needed, I personally needed wisdom and a clarity of thought."

Bevin said that wisdom comes from "a higher authority than myself."

"I am unknown within the political ranks," Bevin wrote in the e-mail, "because I am not a part of the political ranks.  I am a businessman.  I just go to work each day and pay taxes like so many other hard working Kentuckians so that those who are in the political ranks can have a paycheck."

In 2009, Bevin contributed $500 to Greg Fischer's Democratic primary race for Louisville mayor, a contribution he defends.

"I did so, because he was far and away the most qualified candidate in that primary," Bevin explained.  "I supported Hal Heiner in his Republican primary race for the exact same reason."
 
"Both men are smart businessmen who entered the race as proven job creators with decades of private sector experience," Bevin said, adding that it was refreshing to have such a choice.

"It was my desire to help ensure that each of these candidates won their respective primaries, as I was confident that each man had the ability to lead the city of Louisville forward," he continued.

Bevin said he ultimately backed Heiner in the general election because the two are more ideologically aligned and that Heiner could have started his administration less encumbered by political baggage of the previous Democratic administration.
 
"Both men were friends of mine before the election and both men are still my friends," Bevin said.   "For the record, I think that Mayor Fischer is doing well in a challenging role."

Fischer was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in 2008.  He is supported by some of the same donors who met with actress Ashley Judd in Louisville last week.  Fischer also attended the exclusive dinner at the home of philanthropist Christy Brown.

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