Bell Maker Likely to Challenge McConnell in Primary

Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013 10:03 AM

By Cyrus Afzali

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is likely to face a 2014 primary challenge from a Connecticut businessman with Kentucky roots, state tea party leaders are predicting.

Sarah Duran, president of the Louisville Tea Party, said Matt Bevin had spoken to her several times to discuss a potential primary run, The Hill reports.

Duran said other tea party groups had encouraged Bevin to run, including some who had been supportive of McConnell in the past.

Bevin owns Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, a 160-year-old bell maker, based in East Hampton, Conn. The company’s foundry was destroyed by fire last year, but Bevin managed to keep it going during rebuilding.

He has also served as chief executive of Integrity Asset Management, an investment management firm with offices in Kentucky.

Bevin is estimated to have more than $7 million in cash on hand for a potential run and is also actively fundraising for a potential 2014 race.

The prospect of a Republican primary challenge is also complicated by the fact that some Democratic groups, including Progress Kentucky, have indicated a willingness to help a tea party candidate win a primary challenge. Democrats have been encouraged by a recent survey from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling that showed McConnell to be the least popular senator in the country. The poll put potential Democratic challenger, actress Ashley Judd, at only nine points behind.

McConnell, who came to the senate in 1985 and has served as the minority leader since 2007, is currently the ninth most senior senator and the fourth most senior Republican.

Shawn Reilly, executive director of Progress Kentucky, said his group has not spoken to Bevin, but is willing to support a candidate in the race.

Duran predicts Bevin could make “a very formidable candidate.”

“I think that he would have a great chance of possibly beating McConnell in the primary. He knows that we like him and we think he’s great,” she said.

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