Fun (for Democrats) reading — TNR‘s Alec MacGillis explores the politic currents in the “united we stand, divided we fall” state:
“MAYFIELD, Ky. – That Mitch McConnell really does have a reelection fight on his hands was apparent to me even before I got to Fancy Farm, the glorious western Kentucky combo of county fair and old-fashioned political hoedown. I could tell it as soon as I stepped inside the community center in Calvert City that was hosting the local GOP warm-up event on Friday night, the evening prior. If the room had been any more low energy, they might’ve had to bring in one of those wind turbines that people like to scorn in coal country, just to keep the electrons flowing. A very elderly man with a shirt in the design of the Stars-and-Stripes hunched over a small boom-box blaring some patriotic fife-and-drums and a sound system that kept screeching feedback. A few dozen fellow seniors inched down the buffet table. There was a good explanation for the low mood: the beloved county party chairman was seriously ailing at the hospital in Nashville, two hours away.
But there was also a distinct lack of excitement about the man of the hour, who was on the schedule to appear but had left late from Washington. Misti Drew, a GOP county commissioner, gave a more candid answer than I expected when I sought her appraisal of McConnell’s reelection prospects: “Alison is going to give us a good challenge, and our challenge is to connect with the voters in a way that’s more charismatic.”
A minute later came a reminder that Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s Democratic challenger, is not the only person McConnell needs to worry about. Lingering in the room was David Adams, a conservative activist who ran the stunning primary campaign of Rand Paul in 2010, and who, while not yet formally involved in this year’s race, predicted that McConnell would meet the same fate from his own Tea Party challenger, businessman Matt Bevin, even if McConnell had done his best to co-opt Paul and his followers, in part by hiring as his campaign manager Jesse Benton, who replaced Adams for Paul’s general election push. “Mitch McConnell needs to retire,” Adams said, matter-of-factly. “And he needs to do it before the primary so he doesn’t get embarrassed.”
Mitch McConnell is not going to retire, because he is this close to achieving his dream of becoming Majority Leader of the United States Senate. But he is facing a serious challenge back in his home state, enough so for some prognosticators to now judge his race a toss-up. This challenge is being described in many accounts as a left-right vise, with Grimes on one side and Bevin on the other. Which technically it is. But the challenge is so formidable because both the Democrats and the Tea Party cohort in Kentucky are hitting McConnell on the same weak spot: scorning him as a little-loved Washington creature (29 years and counting) who is out only for himself. What struck me over the weekend was how relentlessly, almost giddily, this line of attack was being delivered from both sides, with a bravado that suggested little fear of McConnell’s vaunted political artillery, and quite a lot of confidence in his vulnerability….
(Cartoon: Joel Pett via GoComics.com)