Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, Matt Bevin, Alison Lundergan Grimes, and the Voters of Kentucky

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Elections in the state of Kentucky are not always of national interest.  In 2014, and the events leading up to the mid-term election, may be of great interest for those of us who wallow in the mud of dirty politics.  Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, Matt Bevin, and Alison Lundergan Grimes will be courting the voters of Kentucky.

The United Kentucky TEA Party has endorsed Matt Bevin to defeat McConnell in the state’s Republican primary.  The national TEA Party has not.  Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, is a TEA Party favorite, and, at present, the leading contender of the Presidential race in 2016, is standing by the side of the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell.  There is no question that the GOP is divided, but will the TEA Party see division as well.

McConnell faces serious challenges.  His popularity in Kentucky is fading.  Government spending cuts have eliminated his ‘pork belly’ projects in the state, and unemployment rates are rising.  In polls he was cited as the nation’s least favorite senator for his inaction and obstruction of legislation.

Matt Bevin is a virtual virgin to national politics, but his war chest is filling up, and positive sentiment is on the rise for his defeat of McConnell.

Bevin is a Louisville businessman, and a partner in a hedge fund group.  He knows he is facing an uphill battle.  The race for the nomination may be McConnell’s to win or lose.  His lack of leadership is an increasing issue; he has already launched attack ads against Bevin in Kentucky.

If McConnell is nominated, he faces an opponent who will offer him a serious challenge.

Alison Lundergan Grimes is Kentucky’s Secretary of State.  She will most likely be the Democratic nominee, and polls show her in ‘striking distance’ of McConnell, whose popularity has waned.

The United Kentucky Tea Party sent a letter to the national organization condemning their endorsement of McConnell.  They list his “willingness to roll over and cede power to President Obama and the liberals in Washington” and blast him for everything from voting for debt ceiling increases under President George W. Bush to cutting a deal with Vice President Biden to avoid the “fiscal cliff” earlier this year.

Polls show that Rand Paul leading all other Republican candidates in polls as the choice for the Presidency in 2016.  He has 16 percent favorability.  Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and last year’s GOP vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, came in second with 13 percent support each. Texas senator Ted Cruz, like Paul, a tea party favorite, rolled in with 12 percent, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had 10 percent.  It should be noted that none were in double figures.

Paul, who has placed himself in the public eye through various tactics, has a serious detriment to his nomination ambitions.  Of all possible candidates, he would fare worst against a Hillary Clinton candidacy.  She leads him by eight percentage points.

2014 will find Kentucky’s choices of great interest locally and nationally.  Rand Paul’s future may lie on the coattails of Mitch McConnell.  Matt Bevin may offer a serious challenge to the fading popularity of McConnell.  And, if the voter’s in a red state should choose Alison Lundergan Grimes as their senator, what would that say about an ever-changing American landscape?

Alfred James reporting

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