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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Madison Project, a political action committee that raises money for and strives to elect right-wing Republicans, has released a new attack ad trashing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his role in ending the government shutdown and raising the debt limit.

The web ad, titled “Mitch McConnell’s Failed Leadership,” is primarily comprised of news clips in which pundits criticize the Republican plan to use the federal government and the nation’s credit rating as hostages to force Democrats to defund Obamacare. According to the Madison Project, the ill-fated scheme failed because Senator McConnell failed to fully support it. It also criticizes McConnell for a $2.9 billion earmark that was included in the final deal.

The Madison Project is one of several right-wing groups to back Louisville businessman Matt Bevin’s primary challenge against the five-term incumbent (other prominent groups getting behind Bevin include the Senate Conservatives Fund and the United Kentucky Tea Party). The ad provides a succinct preview of how Bevin and the Tea Party hope to topple McConnell: by painting him as a creature of Washington who will not stand up for conservative principles when it counts. One can safely expect McConnell’s role in ending the shutdown and debt ceiling crises to be the centerpiece of Bevin’s attacks throughout the primary campaign.

Despite Bevin’s support among the Tea Party establishment, he is very unlikely to defeat McConnell, who is known as a ruthlessly effective campaigner and has a massive financial advantage, with about $10 million in cash on hand. Still, a serious primary challenge that draws McConnell even further to the right could provide a major opening for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is currently in a statistical dead heat with the minority leader, according to the latest Public Policy Polling survey.

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