With another poll showing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) trailing his potential Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s senior senator got some very bad news in his primary challenge from Tea Partier Matt Bevin.
Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) all refused to endorse McConnell on Thursday.
All three senators are heroes of the Tea Party movement and vehemently oppose funding Obamacare.
“That’s a decision for the people of Kentucky to make,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said when asked on Thursday if he planned to support McConnell over Bevin.
“I think Sen. McConnell is very capable of taking that challenge on himself,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), adding that he doesn’t typically involve himself in primaries. “Pretend we never talked,” he said, laughing.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) agreed to stop and talk to a reporter about a push he’s leading to defund the president’s health care law. “I would love to have him,” he said when asked if he wants McConnell’s support for that initiative.
Asked a follow up question about whether he planned to support Bevin or McConnell, Lee said: “You’ve gone off topic. Thank you, though.”
This is why our Henry Decker said McConnell has “an Obamacare problem.”
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who defeated the candidate endorsed by McConnell in 2010’s GOP Kentucky U.S. Senate primary, has endorsed McConnell. Since then the minority leader has reached out to Paul and the Tea Party, even hiring Paul’s old campaign manager Jesse Benton to run his re-election bid.
The new poll from the Mellman Group should be even more disturbing for McConnell than the PPP Polls survey, where he trailed by 1 percent. It shows Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State, leading McConnell by 2 percent in a head-to-head race. Among voters who are familiar with both candidates, Grimes leads by 15 percent.
McConnell is known for his willingness to go negative against opponents, something Grimes seemed to be preparing for in her opening campaign ad.
As Politico‘s Glenn Thrush tweeted:
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) August 2, 2013
Who do you think would be a tougher opponent for Grimes — McConnell or Tea Partier Bevin?
NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect that while all three senators oppose the funding of Obamacare, they have not all endorsed a government shutdown.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com