A national political action committee is backing Louisville businessman Matt Bevin over Senator Mitch McConnell in next year's Republican primary election, saying the incumbent has refused to use his leadership position to fight for conservatives.
Based in Washington, D.C., the Madison Project describes itself as a PAC that supports small-government and anti-abortion candidates across the country.
The group previously supported Missouri Republican Jim Talent during his successful 2002 senate bid, and raised close to $2 million for political candidates in last year's elections.
Bevin has already been endorsed by The United Kentucky Tea Party, a coalition of 14 different groups across the state. But this is a sign that Bevin is also getting national attention from organization's outside of the state.
Madison Project spokesman Daniel Horowtiz says the group is proud to endorse Bevin mainly because of his background as an entrepreneur. The group isn't sparring McConnell any criticism, however.
"After 28 years in the Senate and over 10 years in leadership, Senator Mitch McConnell has become the embodiment of stale moss-covered leadership. It's not just his votes for Democrat proposals, such open borders, bailouts, fiscal cliff tax hikes, debt limit increases, green energy stimulus, and funding for Obamacare, it is that fact that McConnell has refused to use his leadership role to fight for conservatives." he says.
Asked about the Madison Project's decisions to back Bevin, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton dismissed the group.
"Are they still around? I thought they were defunct," he says.
As WFPL previously reported, other conservative organizations with national reach are considering weighing in on the Senate race.
The Club For Growth issued a statement after Bevin's entry into the race saying it is interested in learning the differences between the political newcomer and McConnell. Senate Conservatives Fund is another group closely watching the GOP primary, saying it is open to endorsing Bevin before issuing a warning to the McConnell campaign to
McConnell's re-election campaign isn't taking Bevin lightly. Team Mitch launched a TV ad on the day Bevin announced, calling out his business for receiving a state grant while questioning his conservative credentials.
Kentucky Republicans backing McConnell have gone further in their criticism of Bevin, however. State Senate President Robert Stivers said Bevin would rather "destroy" the federal government than work towards sensible conservative restrictions.
But national conservative activists are vocally pressuring McConnell to support de-funding President Obama's health care law in a letter that Paul and a dozen other GOP senators have signed.
Bevin has already setup a potential attack on McConnell by telling supporters Obamacare should be ended "no matter what it takes." Now many are questioning if the five Republican senators who took their names off the letter did so at McConnell's behest.
"On so many major legislative battles that are important to conservatives, McConnell has refused to fight and remained ambiguous about his own position until he felt a clear signal from his political weather vane," says Horowitz. "His behavior during the amnesty fight is a consummate example of McConnell following from behind instead of leading from the front."