Monday, December 9, 2013

Keep your friends close...

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has to continue a fight that started in 2006.  According to National Review, a feud began between McConnell and Jim DeMint over the fight over earmarks. DeMint, not so surprisingly, wanted a war on earmarks, but he did not have the ear of McConnell.  Over the last seven years, the feud has gotten ugly.  Per National Review, McConnell called DeMint "a self-destructive showboat, whose tactics, such as the government shutdown, can only lead to disaster."  DeMint fired back that McConnell is "[a] petty, vindictive tyrant who pushes a mushy agenda behind the scenes."  In McConnell's defense, he doesn't have teeth.

Senator DeMint formed the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) in 2008.  The SCF raised and spent $16 million in the election cycle of 2012.  The biggest recipients of the cash was Josh Mandel, a failed Senate candidate in 2012 at nearly $394,000 and Senator Ted Cruz at $385,000.  The SCF backed two different Republican candidates in Nebraska for Senate, contributing to both Don Stenberg and Deb Fischer's campaign.  The SCF is divorced from the Republican Party, as a whole.  In 2012, they spent $10 million against Republicans.  They backed Richard Mourdock over long-time Senator Richard Lugar in Indiana.  In Missouri, they backed failed Senate candidate Todd Akin, even after many donors from the Republican party deserted him.  Curiously, they did not have a way of shutting it down.  The SCF is quick to point out that they are not affiliated with the Republican Party. DeMint has not been vindictive or petty, at all.  His organization has spent over $100,000 backing the TEA Party endorsed Matt Bevin and $21,500 specifically against McConnell.  The super PAC associated with the SCF has spent $330,000 on ads criticizing McConnell, as well.

McConnell's team has been spending money, not bothering with the primary, but focusing on Democratic candidate Alison Lundgren Grimes.  The proxy war between two of the de facto leaders of the Conservative brand might extend to more groups.  The TEA Party affiliated Club for Growth has not participated in the primary, yet.  Club for Growth has given McConnell a good lifetime score but will likely get involved, at some point, in the primary.

Despite the backing of the SCF and his own wallet, Bevin is currently trailing McConnell in a poll, trailing 50-17 with 33% unsure.  According to the poll administered by MoveOn, McConnell's favorability is 42/52; however, three quarters of GOP Primary voters do not have an opinion on Bevin.  Bevin could make the primary potentially interesting if he is able to win over some of the voters who currently do not have an opinion on him.

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