May 19, 2014

The National Journal details the fall of Mitch McConnell, the man who desperately wants to be senate majority leader but probably won't be, now usurped in power in Kentucky by Rand Paul. McConnell will likely defeat the tea party's Matt Bevin tomorrow, and handily, but his path towards re-election to the senate looks far less secure.

FRANKFORT, Ky.—The headquarters of the Republican Party of Kentucky occupies the corner of a leafy neighborhood about a half-dozen blocks north of the Capitol. There are two signs out front. One, in gold lettering, identifies the facility as the party headquarters. The other reads: “MITCH McCONNELL BUILDING.”

And so it has been. For three decades, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader and the state’s senior senator, has been the face, heart, and brains of Kentucky Republicanism. And although he is expected to dispatch his tea-party primary opponent, Matt Bevin, with ease on Tuesday, the campaign has put on display a simple fact: McConnell is no longer the singular force here he once was.
The shift has been, literally, broadcast for all to see in the last week. As the primary date has approached, one of McConnell’s closing television ads featured a testimonial from the state’s junior senator, Rand Paul.
The Paul ad tells only part of the story. Ever since Paul's upstart win in 2010, McCon­nell has courted him and his tea-party base. As he plotted his own reelection this year, McConnell tapped his junior's 2010 campaign manager, Jesse Benton, as his own. When an audio recording later leaked of Benton saying he was "sort of holding my nose" to do the job, because it would "be a big benefit to Rand in '16," McConnell grinned and had to bear it. Benton kept his job. And they posed together for a picture on Facebook as Benton held his nose.
As Joe Sonka, a McConnell antagonist and news editor at Louisville’s LEO Weekly, recently told Rolling Stone, “This is a once-proud man, reduced to begging.”

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