Skip to comments.Gunning For McConnell
Posted on 09/23/2013 6:09:29 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross
A group that played a crucial role in Ted Cruzs primary win is taking on a new challenge this cycle: The Madison Project has made it a top priority to take down the current Republican leadership, and one front in that war is Kentucky businessman Matt Bevins primary race against Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
The problem in Washington, D.C., right now is the current GOP leadership and their unwillingness to fight the big-government policies that are coming down the pike, says Drew Ryun, the groups political director and a former deputy director at the Republican National Committee. That is encapsulated in Mitch McConnell.
While other top conservative groups, such as the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, have remained on the sidelines so far in the Kentucky primary, the Madison Project has enthusiastically jumped in, endorsing Bevin and making a $27,000 radio buy in August for an ad attacking McConnell.
Its a repeat of the groups strategy in Texas in 2012, when they were the first national conservative organization to endorse Ted Cruz. The importance of their endorsement in the early days was significant, says John Drogin, who served as Cruzs campaign manager and is now the senators state director. When Senator Cruz was still a long-shot, far behind in the polls, Madison Project stood with him because they knew he would stand for conservative principles.
That gave Ted some early credibility, says Ken Emmanuelson, a tea-party activist from Dallas. That kind of thing can put a guy on the radar, so Ive always given them props for that.
But while Cruz wasnt the establishment candidate in the GOP primary, his establishment-backed rival Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst wasnt an incumbent, much less the top Senate Republican. McConnell is known for his ruthless campaigning, and he has a long track record of victories in Kentucky. His campaign has already vehemently pushed back on attacks claiming that hes not conservative enough by noting that he has a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union. And Rand Paul, a tea-party favorite and Kentuckys other senator, has already endorsed McConnell.
Drew Ryun is confident, however, that Bevin is the little engine that can, despite a McConnell-campaign poll released last month that showed Bevin trailing McConnell 21 percent to 68 percent. Hes slightly behind [where Marco Rubio was] at this stage of the campaign, and hes slightly ahead of Ted [Cruz], says Ryun. Where he is right now I actually feel pretty comfortable with it, given the fact that his name recognition is not what it could be in Kentucky.
For the Madison Project, Bevins candidacy is a perfect fit for their twofold mission of transforming Republican leadership and making sure the most conservative candidate possible represents comfortably Republican districts. Republicans, says Daniel Horowitz, the groups policy director, are underutilizing solidly red districts. You look at the Democrat side, you wont find any inner city where you have a blue-dog Democrat, he comments. The group has launched the Madison Performance Index, which compares Republican House members voting records, as analyzed by Heritage Action and Club for Growth, with how Republican their district is.
As a result, dont expect to see the Madison Project playing in purple states or swing districts, although the group wont definitively rule that out.
The groups passion for defeating McConnell is grounded in a worry that even conservative stalwarts cant flourish under the current Republican leadership. Horowitz says activists have asked him what happened to certain conservative politicians, such as Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), after they went to Washington.
The problem is leadership, Horowitz argues. You throw them into a situation where leadership fundamentally doesnt want to change the status quo . . . were never going to get anywhere.
The same old people are going to be put into tough situations, he continues. We feel if we change leadership, well change the direction of the party, both in the House and the Senate.
Jim Ryun, chairman of the Madison Project and a former Kansas congressman, recalls vividly the pressure he faced when he opposed GOP House leadership. He voted against Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind, and today he remembers some calls from the president where somehow we got disconnected when he didnt agree with what I was going to do.
The Madison Project isnt as much of a fundraising powerhouse as some other conservative groups; it raised just under $2 million in the 2012 cycle. But the group is looking to expand their influence significantly in this cycle. Will we be an 800-pound gorilla this election cycle? No, Drew Ryun remarks. But maybe a 400-pound gorilla.
For the Madison Project, however, theres less of an interest in pricey TV buys and more of a fascination with how a well-executed ground game can change the outcome of an election. You have to do such a massive amount of television to even move the political dial incrementally, says Drew Ryun, whereas if you put the time and effort into the ground game, you can actually move a political dial, 3, 4, 5 percent in a precinct versus these television buys that are moving it half a percentage point. Emmanuelson, the tea-party activist from Dallas, says that Ryun is known for helping inexperienced campaign teams with ground-game politics.
Drew Ryun is cautiously optimistic that the GOP could take back the Senate in 2014, but a Republican majority that is led by Mitch McConnell, frankly, is not that appealing to me.
Nonetheless, he thinks that 2014 could be a crucial year for conservatives. 2014 has the potential to be like 2010, except on steroids, Ryun enthuses. And perhaps even more important, what we do and the races that we win in 2014 will dictate how 2016 unfolds.
‘Madison Project’ ping. IMHO, South Carolina should be even more interesting to them than Kentucky.
B!tch McConnell needs to go away as bad as McLame. So GO Bevin
Worse that that, it would be worthless.
I just can't figure out how uninformed so many KY voters can be that Mitch (Harry's bitch) would have such a lead in the polls.
We had better get Bevin elected because I swear I will NOT vote for McConnell again.
Buh-by mcconnell! I wonder if mitch will wake up long enough to realize that he has been retired?
We also need to get rid of McConnell’s number two in the Senate, John Cornyn of Texas. So far he doesn’t even have an opponent in the primary, and he has already announced he is voting with Harry Reid and not Ted Cruz on the Defund cloture vote.
If McConnell is part of a minority, wouldn’t it be racis’ to attack him?
I watch people and I don’t jump to conclusions right away.
It was good to watch Rand Paul make his stand with a filubuster speech earlier this ear on NSA surveillance.
But if he’s supporting Mitch McConnell for re-election, what does that say to those of us who see 90 percent plus of the elected GOP officials like McConnell as phonies?????
I have emailed Sen. Paul with just that question, why are you supporting Snitch who is part and parcel the reason the Republican party is about to erupt into an open civil war? He votes and runs as a conservative every 6 yrs. and then worse than voting liberal schemes with the democrats and the scum of the senate McInsaine and Grahmesty to set up sweat deals where liberals always win and conservatives get kicked in the teeth.
Then Snitch trots out and tells everyone how much he opposes this deal he helped surrender too and proudly votes against it knowing full well it’s already a done deal.
No response from Paul yet, not happy with Sen. Paul at all and I have told him no matter what happens in the Republican primary there are 4 solid (R) votes that will not support McConnell under any circumstances in my family.
-PJ It's another reason to repeal the 17th. No more spectacle of strong-arming one Senator into supporting the election of another.
If Rand Paul is right on an issue I’ll be with him but I am concerned he is trying to win the presidential nomination by compromising his way there with moves like the McConnell endorsement.
Ted Cruz refused to endorse his RINO senior Senator John Cornyn. Would have liked to see Rand Paul do the same thing. Rand Paul has shown us the kinds of deals he is willing to make.
McConnell is part of the ruling class.
I read an article about McConnell last week that said he is Elmer Fudd to Reed’s Bugs Bunny, and I have to say that I agree with this assessment.