Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell received a lukewarm response from the crowd at CPAC this past week. Many wondered why he was even invited. McConnell has repeatedly intimated his disdain for the Tea Party, a grassroots network that stands for limited government, lowering taxation, and lowering federal spending.
“I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” McConnell said. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”
In an interview with the The New York Times, McConnell expressed disdain for conservative and Tea Party groups like FreedomWorks, Ted Cruz’s Senate Conservatives Fund, and The Madison Project.
These groups have endorsed liberty-minded conservative candidates to challenge Republican establishment incumbents in Republican primaries—Chris McDaniel is running against Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi, Milton Wolf is challenging Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas, and Matt Bevin will face the Republican leader himself in Kentucky.
Matt Bevin has emerged as the favorite to challenge Mitch McConnell in the Republican primary in May. Bevin, a businessman and father of nine, has received endorsements from FreedomWorks, Ted Cruz’s Senate Conservatives Fund, The United Kentucky Tea Party, as well as numerous conservative leaders like Mark Levin and Glenn Beck.
Recent polling indicate unusually low support for McConnell in Kentucky, given his incumbency, and Bevin has been building support. Kentucky’s Republican primary is May 20.
Conservative dissatisfaction with McConnell’s so-called leadership has stemmed from his unwillingness to fight the Democrats on, well, just about anything. While House Republicans joined Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in an attempt to defund Obamacare late last year, Mitch McConnell led most Senate Republicans in refusing to take a stand. McConnell undermined the attempt to defund Obamacare, declaring defeat without even attempting a fight.
McConnell was also instrumental in crafting a 2013 resolution that raised taxes on millions of American families. McConnell’s unprincipled record of going along with big government includes 9 votes to raise the debt ceiling for a total of $6.7 trillion, a vote for the 2007 energy bill that raised taxes and instituted new regulations on automakers, as well as his votes to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and big banks in 2008.
McConnell’s hostility to the Tea Party is prevalent among establishment Republicans. Rep. Eric Cantor indicated that the National Republican Senate Committee will block any group that works with the Senate Conservative Fund.
The Republican establishment has grown bolder in its opposition to Tea Party principles, which may seem strange given that the Tea Party delivered a majority in the House of Representatives for Republicans in 2010, a majority which remains to this day.
In 2009, when the Democrats rammed Obamacare through Congress without bipartisanship or popular support and was rapidly pushing through trillion-dollar stimulus package after bailout, the Tea Party was born out of necessity.
Thanks to the Tea Party, so-called Cap-and-Trade legislation (which would have created several new taxes and regulations) was defeated, and the grassroots movement led to a landslide for Republicans, who retook the House by a wide margin. The Tea Party also delivered victories for several principled conservative candidates in the Senate, like Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah.
The Tea Party has likely saved America from trillions more in national debt, not to mention numerous new taxes and regulations that would have negatively impacted the economy and job market.
Matt Bevin is a principled conservative. After spending a few years in the military, he became a successful businessman and developed several humanitarian projects in India and Africa. He and his wife Glenna have nine children, including four adopted from Ethiopia.