Kentucky's primary contest for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is dividing the Republican Party, as challenger Matt Bevin gains the support of some powerful conservatives.
McConnell has received valuable endorsements, including from Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, all favorites of the tea party wing of the party.
But Bevin, who has portrayed McConnell as part of the Washington establishment, was given a boost last month with an endorsement from the Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, reports The Hill
Bevin has also benefited from attacks on McConnell from conservative commentators such as radio talk show host Mark Levin and RedState.com editor Erick Erickson, the publication reports.
Both candidates are now vying for a key endorsement from the Club for Growth, which reportedly spent more than $2 million to defeat former Sen. Dick Lugar in the 2012 Republican primary in Indiana.
"The lines are being drawn, and it remains to be seen if Club for Growth gets off the bench," Drew Ryun, political director of the Madison Project, a conservative fundraising group that endorsed Bevin in late July, told The Hill.
"This is the epicenter of tension between the free-market conservative movement, the tea party groups and the establishment," he said.
The United Kentucky Tea Party is also entering the fray, calling on McConnell to resign over the recent deal that raised the country's debt limit without getting concessions on spending from the Democrats, reports the Washington Times.
"McConnell finds that debt ceiling fights are unpleasant affairs that require him to show courage and leadership, two attributes he lacks," the group said.
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