Tea party branches likely to clash in Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election bid

July 23, 2013

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election push is exposing some fissures in the tea party movement, with national groups supporting his re-election and local groups calling for him to be replaced with a “true conservative.”

The United Kentucky Tea Party slammed two national branches of the grass-roots movement Monday for endorsing the five-term Kentucky Republican, and the group’s spokesman said the state-based tea partyers will back Louisville businessman Matthew Bevins, who is expected to announce Wednesday that he will vie for Mr. McConnell’s seat, forcing a GOP primary.

“We see him a lot in the same vein as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz,” said Scott Hofstra, spokesman for the United Kentucky Tea Party. “If he decides to get into the race, we will support him wholeheartedly.”

The potential matchup — and other internal GOP fights brewing in races across the country — could complicate Republicans’ hopes of capturing the Senate in elections next year. To return to power in the Senate, Republicans need to win a net of six seats, and party leaders are desperate to avoid a repeat of the past two election cycles, when they put forward candidates Todd Akin in Missouri in 2012 and Sharron Angle in Nevada in 2010. Both lost what many saw as winnable races.

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