Has the Tea Party finally found a strong issue to defeat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY)?


FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.  President Barack Obama will meet Friday with the top leaders in the House and Senate to discuss what to do about automatic cuts to the federal budget, White House and congressional leaders said. The meeting is set to take place hours after the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will have officially kicked in. This suggests both sides are operating under the assumption a deal won't be reached to avert the cuts ahead of the March 1 deadline.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
The Senate Conservatives Fund released a new radio ad Tuesday attacking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for recommending a federal judge that recently ruled Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The ad features a man and woman discussing McConnell's association to U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II, who made the ruling. McConnell recommended Heyburn to the federal bench in 1992.

Here's part of the exchange:

    Man: Who recommended this liberal judge? Woman: Mitch McConnell.

    Man: Really?

    Woman: Uh-huh. Mitch McConnell called Heyburn an "excellent judicial appointment" and praised him for being “progressive.”

    Man: “Progressive” means liberal. Now, why would McConnell recommend a liberal?

    Woman: Political cronyism. Heyburn donated money to McConnell and served as a county chairman for his campaign.

The ad will run statewide starting Tuesday. SCF is spending $29,130 on the ad. The ad was released the same day that Kentucky's attorney general said he would not appeal Heyburn's order to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. - TPM, 3/4/14

McConnell's Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin (R. KY), has been blaming McConnell for Heyburn's ruling for weeks now:


Matt Bevin of Louisville, Ky., speaks during the 133rd Annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. Bevin, a Louisville businessman, will face off against Sen. Mitch McConnell in the primary election for the Republican party ticket
   I'm deeply disappointed in Judge Heyburn's decision to overturn Kentucky's right to determine the definition of marriage within its own borders. This type of judicial activism hurts America's democratic process.

    It is no surprise that Judge Heyburn was Mitch McConnell's general counsel and McConnell recommended him for the federal bench. Kentucky deserves better.

In 1992, upon McConnell's recommendation, Heyburn was appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush, according to The Washington Post. According to author and journalist Sarah Garland in her book Divided We Fail: The Story of an African American Community That Ended the Era of School Desegregation, Heyburn started his career working for McConnell when the top Senate Republican ran for a lower elected office. - TPM, 2/12/14

McConnell's campaign has shot back at the SCF ad:


In a statement, McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore called the group's claims "absurd and pathetic."

"This is the kind of ad voters expect to hear from people who are days away from boxing up their personal effects and auctioning off the remaining printer cartridges in the office," she said. "It is so absurd and pathetic that they ought to stop troubling radio listeners with the obligation of switching stations and admit they have no justification to attack Senator McConnell."

After Heyburn made his initial ruling on gay marriage last month, McConnell issued a statement condemning the decision and saying that Kentuckians should not have gay marriage "forced on us."

"I will continue to support traditional marriage and fight to make sure that Kentuckians define marriage as we see fit and never have a definition forced on us by interests outside of our state," McConnell said.

The radio ad accuses McConnell of "political cronyism," suggesting he recommended Heyburn because Heyburn had donated to McConnell and served as his county campaign chairman.

"McConnell knew Judge Heyburn was not a conservative, but he promoted him anyway," said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. "Now Judge Heyburn is forcing his liberal views on Kentucky." - Lexington Herald-Leader, 3/3/14

By the way, the SCF isn't the only group going after McConnell's record lately:


A conservative group pushing to oust Mitch McConnell is bashing the Senate Republican leader over his past support for federally-backed clean energy loans in Kentucky.

"Mitch McConnell's Solyndra Double-Standard," blared the latest attack from FreedomWorks, which is supporting McConnell's conservative challenger, Matt Bevin, in the GOP primary.

The tea party group dug up a 2011 article in the New York Times which reported that McConnell sought to steer clean-energy projects to Kentucky, making two personal appeals to the Obama administration in 2009 seeking up to $235 million in government loans for a Kentucky plant to build electric vehicles.

"I hope you will realize the importance of such job creation to Kentucky," McConnell reportedly wrote to erstwhile Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a July 2009 memo, on behalf of an application from Zap Motor Manufacturing in Franklin, Ky. The Times also reported that McConnell backed the project after the company hired a Kentucky lobbyist who was a contributor to the Republican leader's campaigns.

Solyndra is the California-based solar energy manufacturer which went bankrupt in 2011 despite receiving more than $535 million in federally-backed loans (largely from the 2009 stimulus package), and has since endured as a Republican punchline about government waste and alleged cronyism.

FreedomWorks' national political director Russ Walker declared in a statement Friday, "Clearly, Mitch McConnell’s considers equal opportunity in the marketplace to be more of a guideline, rather than an actual principle. Federal loans for me, but none for thee." - TPM, 2/28/14

And Tea Party Senator Rand Paul (R. KY) haven't been helping make the case for McConnell:


According to one of the tea party's leading voices, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), who is being challenged by conservative Matt Bevin in Kentucky's Senate GOP primary, is not an "Arlen Specter" Republican.

"It's not like we're talking about Arlen Specter here," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in an interview with The Washington Post. "Senator McConnell has a longstanding conservative record and for an opponent to beat him, they'll have to prove somehow that he's not a conservative."

Specter, the late Pennsylvania senator who left the GOP for the Democratic Party in 2009, was a villain-like figure to many on the right, due to his moderate positions and frequent quarrels with conservatives. - Washington Post, 2/26/14

Really compelling argument there, Rand.  Now Alison Lundergan Grimes (D. KY) is painting McConnell in a different light:


Kentucky Secretary of State and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes speaks to NBC News during the 133rd Annual Fancy Farm picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. The annual picnic is considered the state's political season kick-off event. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)
Alison Lundergan Grimes, who's hoping to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) in Kentucky, compared her rival to a twice-heated biscuit.

Grimes said the unflattering comparison was a saying taught to her by her grandmother.

"I think what people -– not just Kentucky, but the nation –- are seeing is that Mitch McConnell, kind of like heating a biscuit twice, never tastes good the second time, no matter how much jam or jelly you put on it," Grimes told the Washington Post. - Huffington Post, 2/26/14

Grimes has also been slamming McConnell over this:


On Thursday, the Mitch McConnell-led Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have improved veterans benefits. It was truly a “shameful display of partisan obstruction”, just as Jason Easley called it.

Since there are nearly 340,000 veterans in Kentucky, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Alison Lundergan Grimes called out her opponent, Republican Mitch McConnell, for his vote to kill the veterans benefits bill with a cowardly procedural vote.

In a statement, Ms. Grimes took McConnell to task, “Mitch McConnell’s voting record against Kentucky’s veterans and military families is inexcusable.” She continued, “It is not enough to simply offer words and empty rhetoric — we must follow through with action in support of our veterans.”

The Democrat shamed McConnell for failing to live up to our promises to our veterans, “My opponent clearly disagrees. Whether they fought in Korea or Afghanistan, we must keep our promises to our returned service men and women and deliver on our responsibility to them just as they have for each of us. They deserve to share in the economic opportunity they bravely fought to protect.”

Grimes also supports renewing the VOW to Hire Heroes Act. - Politicus USA, 2/28/14

It's no wonder why a lot of people these days can't stand McConnell.  But one guy still loves him:


Steven Law, the head of the Crossroads groups founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, has declared that reelecting Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this year is a top priority. It's paramount to Crossroads' 2014 efforts to win back GOP control of the Senate and fight off the insurgent tea party. And for Law himself, who used to work for the Republican Senate leader, it's "personal."

Yet other than a web video attacking would-be challenger Ashley Judd in early 2013, Crossroads has not run any ads to support McConnell.

Instead, two local groups -- Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a brand-new super PAC, and the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a repurposed nonprofit -- have spent more than $2 million to boost McConnell in his contests against tea party challenger Matt Bevin and Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state.

Behind the scenes, Crossroads' strategy becomes clearer. Deep connections between the Rove organization and the two Kentucky groups show that, despite their locally flavored names, the real power behind the latter groups emanates from the offices of Crossroads-linked consultants in Washington and Virginia.

Both pro-McConnell groups rely heavily on Crossroads' list of elite political consultants. Law sits on the board of Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, which -- according to Scott Jennings, a former McConnell aide hired to advise both pro-McConnell groups -- "makes decisions for the organization, including how to expend funds."

And the majority of the money reaching Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, which as a super PAC must disclose its donors, comes from Crossroads' donor network. - Huffington Post, 3/1/14

That's why McConnell loves unlimited campaign cash.  He can be as much of a dick as he wants because he has a lot of money of to dupe voters.  But voters in Kentucky are coming around and we need to get them to the polls to get rid of McConnell.  If you want to donate or get involved with Grimes' campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 10:52 PM PST.

Also republished by My Old Kentucky Kos, LGBT Rights are Human Rights, LGBT Kos Community, Kossacks for Marriage Equality, Military Community Members of Daily Kos, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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