Last Tuesday, Alexander Bolton of The Hill dutifully transcribed the favored talking points of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager, Jess Benton, writing that Kentucky’s senior senator would breeze through his 2014 GOP primary because the Tea Party has come to love him.
While the rewards for Bolton will include some great access to the McConnell camp over the next year, they will not include being considered an even remotely accurate source for information on what’s actually happening here on the ground in Kentucky GOP Land.
Via Phillip Bailey at WFPL — as both of us have been reporting for quite some time — the grassroots Tea Party in Kentucky (not named Rand Paul, Thomas Massie or Phil Moffett) would not trust Mitch McConnell as far as they can throw him, as a new coalition of Tea Party groups just sent out a warning that they will not be co-opted by the likes of Mitch.
Here is the full text of the statement — “In response to the recent personnel announcement by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign” — signed by 13 Tea Party groups from across the state:
“Out-of-control federal, state and local government gave birth to the Tea Parties across America in their various forms with a mission of identifying and pushing back against over regulation, disregard for the rule of law and our Constitution and big spending Democrats and Republicans who hold or seek public office.
The UKTP stands with limited-government, free-market and fiscally-responsible elected representatives without regard for party affiliation provided these public servants fight for these principles and their records in public office uphold them.
The replacement of elected officials not committed to and demonstrating the principles of limited government, free markets and fiscal responsibility is a mission of the UKTP.
UKTP members are not directed by any elected official from either of the big spending parties. The message from our members, reflected in our words and our actions, are derived solely from our membership and are not for sale or rent to politicians seeking re-election.
The attempted co-opting of the Tea Party by the Republican Party of Kentucky leadership and Sen. McConnell through the hiring of former Campaign for Liberty leaders, and the intellectually dishonest labeling of these individuals as “Tea Party leaders” in the media, is yet another misrepresentation of the Tea Parties, which will not be allowed to stand. The Tea Parties in Kentucky are lead by local grassroots individuals not by any national organization. Any representation otherwise by the Republican Party Leadership of Kentucky or Senator McConnell and his surrogates is inconsistent with the truth and will be vigorously and publicly disputed every step of the way.”
I guess we’ll have to cancel the coronation?
John Kemper — spokesman for the United Kentucky Tea Party and former candidate for state auditor — went on to tell Bailey that he is on the “short-list” for potential challengers to McConnell.
Meanwhile, Benton struggled to convince Bailey that up is down and black is white:
“Leader McConnell is a great friend of the Kentucky Tea Parties and is committed to giving them a seat at the table and bringing their voices to Washington,” Benton told WFPL in a statement. “I have been taking that message to grassroots groups all over the state and have had a wonderful reception.” in a statement.
Unless “grassroots groups” and “Kentucky Tea Parties” are euphemisms for “Rand Paul and his presidential campaign,” color me very highly skeptical, Jesse. Save that stuff for The Hill.