When political novice Matt Bevin, owner of the Bevin Bell company in East Hampton, announced he would force a primary against US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, few gave him any chance of winning. But by running to the right of McConnell in the deeply divided state of Kentucky, Bevin has at the very least had an impact on just about everything McConnell does.
When McConnell voted against the budget deal that passed this week, he clearly had his reelection effort on his mind. The deal was negotiated by US Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and US Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and passed with bipartisan support.
Bevin says he doesn’t buy McConnell’s vote as sufficiently conservative and said McConnell should have led an effort to defeat the budget bill, not just vote against it. “He should not be voting to try to position himself to be reelected, he should be voting and leading with conviction and doing the will of his constituents here in Kentucky…He just doesn’t spend any time listening, or maybe he doesn’t care. I don’t know what it is…But he’s only doing a lot of these things in reaction to the fact that he’s running for reelection. It’s a shame that it takes a reelection fight to get him to do the right thing,” Bevin told The Hill newspaper.
The challenger may have a point. The budget vote was one of the rare times McConnell has split with House Speaker John Boehner who supported the spending plan that now heads to President Obama.
If nothing else, Bevin is a great, big ol’ pain in the neck to McConnell. A new poll shows McConnell leads Bevin and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by only one point. (Bevin loses to Grimes in a head-to-head match-up.) Bevin has some work to do according to the survey with twice as many voters viewing him unfavorably than favorably. Two-thirds are still undecided about him.
Bevin is known to people in Connecticut as the owner of the Bevin Bell factory, the nation’s only remaining such operation. The factory burned to the ground in May of 2012 but Bevin, with the support of the state and the community, rebuilt.