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The Other Kentucky Derby

Will Mitch McConnell prevail on a muddy track?

Mar 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 24 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Lacking a clear line of attack and trailing McConnell by more than 20 points in the polls, Bevin faces an uphill path to victory in the May 20 primary. But it would be foolish to write him off just yet. Primary challengers have closed much bigger gaps in shorter periods of time. Polls show both McConnell and Bevin neck-and-neck with Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election, so there’s a case to be made that Bevin, without McConnell’s baggage as a five-term senator, would have a better shot at victory in November.

Bevin’s argument against McConnell is weak, but the McConnell campaign’s brief against Bevin is entirely character-based. They point to his contradictions on TARP and résumé-puffing on his LinkedIn page—Bevin listed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under education, when he’d only attended an unaffiliated program held at an MIT conference center—as warnings that he’s a huckster not ready for primetime.

The McConnell campaign hasn’t attacked Bevin for taking extreme positions that would make him unelectable. Kentucky is the state, after all, where Republicans nominated Rand Paul in 2010 despite warnings that he was too extreme on fiscal issues and soft on national security. Paul won the general election by a comfortable margin. And over the past few years, McConnell has allied himself with Paul, hiring his campaign manager and speaking on the floor of the Senate in support of Paul’s filibuster about President Obama’s use of drones.

So don’t expect McConnell to hit Bevin for sharing Paul’s foreign-policy worldview. But you can expect many more bitter, personal attacks. Remember, it’s Sayre’s law.

John McCormack is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.


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