Democrats Seek Alliance with Tea Party to Down McConnell in Primary

Monday, 28 Jan 2013 07:32 PM

By Dan Weil

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Liberal activists and donors hope to join up with tea party forces to knock out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in his GOP primary next year.

Democrats hope the Republican Party will nominate a weak candidate whom they might be able to beat in November. So the left wingers hope to assist the tea party in nominating an extreme right winger, or at least in weakening McConnell, Politico reports.

“We are doing a lot of reaching out to some of the tea party folks across the state,” Keith Rouda, a field organizer with the liberal group MoveOn and the Democratic super PAC, Progress Kentucky, told Politico. “At least in this stage of the race we’re finding that our interests align. It’s unusual.”

Democratic donors, both in Kentucky and nationally, have shown interest in financing the effort. Sarah Durand, president of the Louisville Tea Party, told Politico that Democrats have expressed to her a willingness to spend more than $1 million to boost a McConnell challenger.

The trick for the tea party is to find a candidate who can beat the minority leader and then also beat a Democrat.

“I guess the fear would be ending up in the Dick Lugar situation, where you oust the incumbent and end up with a Democrat,” Durand said. “But I really think if Sen. McConnell can’t garner some enthusiasm within the tea party, which is going to be very difficult at this point, then he’s going to have a really tough road ahead in this election cycle.”

Former Indiana Sen. Lugar lost his seat last year in the GOP primary to Richard Mourdock, who was defeated in the general election after making controversial comments about abortion.

In an ominous sign for McConnell, a Courier-Journal Bluegrass poll released earlier this month showed that 34 percent of voters plan to cast their ballot against him, and only 17 percent plan to vote for him. Another 44 percent said they will wait to see who his opponents are.

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