January 15, 2014, 02:33 pm
FreedomWorks: McConnell can't win general election
By Alexandra Jaffe
FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe says Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may not be able to win his general election fight, and signaled an openness to backing his primary challenger, Matt Bevin.
Speaking to The Hill on Wednesday, Kibbe said the group, known for backing conservative insurgents in Republican primaries, is currently in the middle of assessing the race and polling its membership in Kentucky on whether they should endorse Bevin ahead of the May primary in an effort to stop Democrat Alison Lundergran Grimes from winning the seat.
“We’re looking at it right now, and we’ll see what we decide to do. But it’s pretty clear to me that if Mitch McConnell wins the primary, he’s highly vulnerable in the general, and if you’re worried about saving that seat you may need to reconsider your premises about who can win,” he said.
Kibbe said much of the frustration with McConnell and other Republican lawmakers was compounded with the vote for the deal that reopened the government, after a conservative-led strategy forced a shutdown over ObamaCare.
“We did lose that fight, but a number of Republicans in competitive primaries are freaked out that they made a really bad vote,” Kibbe said.
Asked which particular members were likely most impacted by that vote, Kibbe suggested to “watch Mitch McConnell’s race.”
“Number one. He’s the architect of that whole thing and his numbers are horrible right now. He’s the least popualar politician in Kentucky, compared to someone like Rand Paul, who’s one of the most popular politicians in Kentucky. Both Republicans, both senators, Republican-leaning state — there’s something going on there,” he said.
McConnell indeed drew the ire of some conservative groups in helping broker the deal to end the government shutdown last year. The Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed Bevin and spent nearly $1 million on McConnell's challenger.
The Senate Minority Leader has also worked to shore up support on his right flank and nabbed Paul’s backing for his reelection fight.
FreedomWorks has only endorsed two Senate candidates so far this cycle: Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, challenging Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in the GOP primary, and Shane Osborn, running for Nebraska’s open Senate seat.
But Kibbe said further endorsements are likely to come in the next few weeks as the group finishes surveying its members in competitive districts and states nationwide.