Matt Bevin, a Louisville businessman, launched his campaign to unseat McConnell at Kentucky's Capitol Wednesday, part of an announcement tour that will take him across the state this week. He also launched a television advertisement decrying McConnell's record of supporting higher taxes, debt-ceiling increases and "liberal judges" during his five terms in office.
McConnell's campaign launched a preemptive strike with a television ad calling the challenger "Bailout Bevin" for accepting state grants for Connecticut-based companies after a fire destroyed a bell factory. Bevin's campaign said McConnell was "slinging mud to avoid discussing his own liberal voting record."
The success of
McConnell now has as his campaign manager Jesse Benton, who served in the same capacity for
Chris Chocola, president of the conservative Club for Growth, said in a statement Wednesday that the group met with Bevin this year and would be closely following the race to study "the differences between him and Senator McConnell on the issues." "The Club's PAC will watch Kentucky's Senate race – as it would with any race – over the coming months to determine if our involvement is warranted," Chocola said. The Republican primary is next May.
Hours earlier, the same group urged McConnell to sign on to an effort led by Sen.
Senate Majority Leader
Kentucky is one of just two states with Republican incumbents where Democrats are expected to mount serious challenges in a year when they are otherwise mostly playing defense. This week Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, announced her candidacy for the Georgia seat now held by retiring Republican Sen.
With Democrats heavily favored to win a special election in New Jersey this year, Republicans probably will need to net six seats in the 2014 elections to reclaim the majority for the first time since 2007.