Rand Paul Faces Tough Balancing Act in McConnell Primary

Image: Rand Paul Faces Tough Balancing Act in McConnell Primary

Thursday, 25 Jul 2013 10:05 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Sen. Rand Paul will not have an easy task with colleague Mitch McConnell facing a tea party opponent in Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary next year.

Paul must navigate standing by the Senate minority leader and Republican mainstay without alienating his own core supporters — the tea party groups who swept him to power in 2010 and who now are backing a McConnell challenger.

The two factions in Kentucky's conservative political base already are sparring, leaving Paul, a possible contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, in an awkward position, according to Politico.

McConnell's campaign manager already has come out swinging at the GOP primary challenger.

"Matthew Griswold Bevin is not a Kentucky conservative. He is merely an East Coast con man," McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said of the Republican rival.

Paul, however, defended the tea party favorite, countering that Bevin is a "good man."

At the same time, Paul has endorsed McConnell. The two have worked closely in Congress, finding a mutually beneficial alliance on key policy issues and in bringing together both sides of the party within the state.

That relationship, however, has been the subject of criticism from tea party groups, which suggest that Paul may be selling out to Washington politics.

For the time being, Paul is doing his best to stay above the fray, hoping that by making limited public comments, he will avoid alienating either side.

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