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Understandably, much of the speculation regarding the Kentucky race has focused on the assumed general election contest between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Given McConnell’s unpopularity and Grimes’s success in a state that has some blue-collar Democrats in it as well as added storylines of McConnell being the Minority Leader and having millions to spend; this race has to be the most anticipated of the 2014 cycle.
But we are forgetting a few things, I guess. For one, both of these candidates now have to deal with contested primaries. Grimes has to deal with contractor Ed Marksberry who will likely position himself to Grimes’s left and will likely not pose much of a threat but we never really thought McConnell would have a credible challenger.
Well that last statement now appears to be bust as businessman Matt Bevin will announce today that he is indeed challenging the six-term Republican in a primary. Bevin will position himself to McConnell’s right (stating that Tea Party groups have tried to coerce him into making a bid) and has air time slotted for this week.
Bevin is connected to a Louisville hedge fund, Wayward Partners as well as being the founder of Integrity Asset Management and was CEO until it was sold in 2010 to a Michigan firm. Another part of Bevin’s resume is that he owns Bevin Brothers Mfg. Co. which is based in East Hampton, Connecticut that was founded by his great-great-great-grandfather in the 1830s. He’s also a veteran of the armed forces as he served in the U.S. Army.
Given Bevin’s ties to various business as well as being a “hedge fundie”, it seems pretty safe to assume that he will be able to raise quite a bit of cash. He may or may not be a firebrand but given the unpopularity that McConnell has in Kentucky, the Minority Leader is going to have to use up some resources to counter the fledging campaign of Bevin’s.
This brings us to Alison Lundergan Grimes who will likely have a much less heated primary and will be able to comfortably raise money, sharpen her stumping speeches, tour the state, raise money and ready her general election push while McConnell may (or may not) have his hands full with Bevin.
Now Bevin’s primary could just end up making a lot of noise but not adding any punches either. McConnell will have millions upon millions and given how unknown Bevin is, McConnell could just start lobbing punches at him the minute he enters the race. I’m sure the fact that Bevin has a business in Connecticut will be repeated a lot by the McConnell team for the next year or so.
But while McConnell is dealing with the right, this is just excellent news for Grimes. At the absolute worst, McConnell wins by a large amount but still has to burn some cash. At its most likely outcome, McConnell wins but burns a bit more cash than he anticipates.
If we play the hypothetical and McConnell loses to Bevin? Oh man. That might be one of the biggest political upsets and could very well tip the state to the Democrats.
But let’s just see how this plays out as this primary should now have your attention.