One thing that Democrats, Republicans and Tea Partiers all have in common is that they love to make Mitch McConnell’s life miserable.
Matt Bevin — the Sears-catalogue-handsome entrepreneur who is challenging McConnell in the upcoming GOP primary — stands on stage at the Red State Gathering bashing McConnell for being in Washington, D.C. for three decades and using earmarks as “the dirty grease” that moves bad legislation through Congress.
Organized by noted feminist and human rights activist Erick Erickson, the Gathering brings together the reddest Republicans in America to listen to Republican politicians who have paid their own way to the event bash other Republicans.
Bevin’s speech was the perfect end to a wonderful week for the senator, who discovered that not only was he neck-and-neck with his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes, but also that key Tea Party senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) would not support his primary bid.
Not long after Bevin walked off the stage, Erickson took a break to tweet this:
Romney won Kentucky by 23 pts yet KY-SEN is a tossup. Why shouldn’t McConnell retire like he made Jim Bunning do?
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) August 2, 2013
“If doctors told Senator McConnell he has a kidney stone, he’d refuse to pass it,” Grimes said, Saturday at Kentucky’s annual political rumble at Fancy Farms.
But that isn’t good enough for Dr. Frankenstein’s monsters in the Tea Party.
Since 2009, an activated, overly empowered GOP base that thinks even the idea of the government functioning would be abhorrent to the Founding Fathers has taken away Senator McConnell’s secret power that helped him grow and reign over the Kentucky Republican Party — earmarks.
Up until the Tea Party-led ban on earmarks a few years ago, McConnell played out this dichotomy across Kentucky. In Washington, he voted against a health care program for poor children. In Kentucky, he funneled money to provide innovative health services for pregnant women. In Washington, he railed against Obamacare. In Kentucky, he supported free health care and prevention programs paid for by the federal government without the hassle of a private-insurance middleman.
Earmarks, those sweet golden eggs, are so vital to the Bluegrass State’s economy that Tea Partier Rand Paul immediately flip-flopped on opposing targeting spending for Kentucky just days after he was elected, after having steamrolled over McConnell’s candidate in the GOP primary.
But McConnell doesn’t have the credibility Paul does. So the senior senator is forced to run for re-election as the goose who used to lay the golden eggs.
In December of 2012, a PPP poll found that McConnell was the least popular senator in the country, with only 37 percent of his state’s voters approving of his performance.