Matt who? Tea Party vets upset with potential McConnell primary challenger

Matt who? Tea Party vets upset with potential McConnell primary challenger

Matt who? Tea Party vets upset with potential McConnell primary challenger


by Joe Arnold

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 1:34 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 20 at 10:30 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- With speculation suddenly swirling whether Louisville businessman Matt Bevin will mount a Republican primary challenge against five-term incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), a spokeswoman reaffirmed Tuesday that Bevin has not decided if he will enter the race.

"In the days ahead, he intends to continue listening to his fellow Kentuckians in order to better understand their concerns," said the statement e-mailed by Amy Lowe.  "In this way he will ultimately be able to make a fully informed decision about whether or not to enter this race."

The statement e-mailed to several news media outlets repeated the assertions Bevin made exclusively to WHAS11's Joe Arnold on Monday night, that he is considering the senate race after he was approached by tea party supporters.  Bevin told WHAS11 he is "listening" to interested parties.

"He has, however, met in recent weeks with various individuals and groups who have expressed their frustration with their current representation in Washington DC and have encouraged him to consider entering the race," the statement read.

Lowe's e-mail address was traced to Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, a Connecticut bell-making company that has been in Matt Bevin's family more than 150 years.

"These meetings, together with the recent reaction to the possibility of a primary race, have served to reaffirm the general sense of political disenchantment among many voters in Kentucky that has been widely reflected in recent articles and polls," the statment read.

A potential tea party challenge by Bevin elicited consternation from some Kentucky tea party leaders who lashed out at him on Facebook.

"Would this business owner taking taxpayer money to rebuild his business after a fire be considered to support limited government, free-markets, fiscal responsibility? What happen to his business insurance coverage?" asked John T. Kemper of the United Kentucky Tea Party.

Kemper has pledged to secure a well-funded tea party candidate to challenge McConnell in the 2014 race.

“I’ve never heard of this new guy but what would I know about the Kentucky Tea Party, right?" wrote Christopher Hightower a one-time statehouse candidate and volunteer for Rand Paul's 2010 U.S. Senate campaign.  "Of course the media will anoint anyone as a Tea Party candidate, as long as they take on Sen. McConnell.”

The Louisville Tea Party President, meanwhile, said Tuesday she was angry with The Hill reporter Alexandra Jaffe who interviewed her concerning the Bevin story.

"I just wanted to set the record straight that the reporter from The Hill twisted my words around like no other reporter I've ever talked to," said Sarah Durand, Louisville Tea Party President.  " Everything I said was taken out of context to present a story that is extremely inaccurate."

Durand said the story gave the impression that Bevin was courting tea party support.  In reality, she asserted, some Republicans have courted Bevin.

Bevin is talking to a variety of people about the senate race, including McConnell supporters, Durand said.   She added that she would never encourage anyone to run for political office.

The statement explains that Bevin wants to ensure that his nine children's futures "are as bright as his were as a boy."

"To that end, he has always been open to listening to a wide range of ideas for charting a better path forward," it continues.  "That is what he is doing at this time. One thing is clear...Decades of fiscal mismanagement in Washington DC have undermined the potential for such a future."

The statement said Bevin will be unavailable for comment for two weeks as he works on two projects in Ethiopia. One involves security at orphanages and the other is related to improving the quality of veterinary science in that country.

Bevin is also scheduled to speak at the YPO Global Leadership Conference in Istanbul, Turkey.  The event runs Feb. 28 - March 1.