Businessman Matt Bevin ready to take on McConnell in GOP Primary - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Businessman Matt Bevin ready to take on McConnell in GOP Primary

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Matt Bevin Matt Bevin
Nancy Jenkins Nancy Jenkins
Senator Mitch McConnell Senator Mitch McConnell
Wendy Caswell Wendy Caswell

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Senator Mitch McConnell knew he had a fight coming with Democratic challenger and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, but McConnell has to win a battle within his own party first. 

Wednesday, people were just trying to figure out who Matt Bevin is: A political maverick who wants to make real change in Washington or a candidate who's out of his league taking on the most powerful Republican in Washington.

First Frankfort, then Newport and Louisville were all part of Wednesday's campaign kick-off tour for McConnell's new GOP opponent.

"I'm interested in choice," said Bullitt County voter Nancy Jenkins, who was at Bevin's Louisville event, "I know Mitch McConnell's record, " she said, "and I don't always agree with him."

When it comes to Bevin, you may be among thousands of voters asking, "Who is this guy?"   After ripping McConnell in his first TV ad, Bevin explains to viewers who "he" is. "I'm a successful businessman, father of nine, veteran, conservative, Republican," Bevin tells viewers in the ad.

Team Mitch wasted no time getting to the airwaves claiming among other things, Bevin failed to pay taxes on his Connecticut company. Bevin said of McConnell, "My opponent is someone who has never worked a day in his adult life in the private sector."

The investment banker has plenty of bank to run a race, but it's not the cash cow of the Senate Minority leader.  Bevin said, " It's not about what's best for us here in Kentucky it's about him (McConnell) and keeping his big cushy office in Washington D.C., he will spend crazy amounts of money to do that."

Bevin insists a grass roots effort, not money, is the key to beat Team Mitch. It's also likely why Bevin sought out the Tea Party.

Wendy Caswell, the President of the Louisville Tea Party, said of Bevin, "I think he has a lot of courage to take on a 30-year sitting Republican leader."

Sour on McConnell, more than 20 Kentucky Tea Party groups are throwing their support behind the unknown, untested Bevin. Why? They like his background and youthful Bravado. "He has a fairly young campaign staff and there's a lot of energy there," said Scott Hofstra the Spokesperson for the United Kentucky Tea Party.  Hofstra said, "McConnell only had 34 percent of support among registered Republicans (referring to a recent Courier Journal poll) and there was a large number of undecided's and I think that will work against him."

Another big hurdle for Bevin?  Kentucky's Tea Party power player Senator Rand Paul says Mitch McConnell is his man. Senator Paul said, "For over a year now, I've endorsed Senator McConnell and that will stand."

Bevin told reporters Wednesday, he voted for Paul and would do so again. He said of Paul's support of McConnell, "He has reasons for making the decisions he has made and at the end of the day,  the people of Kentucky are quite smart enough to make decisions for themselves, they don't need to be spoon fed by anybody."

As for the Lundergan Grimes campaign, a spokesperson said it's no surprise McConnell is bullying members of his own party and that Kentuckians are uniting around her campaign.

Unlike Grimes and McConnell Bevin hasn't been invited to speak at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic that kicks off the political season in Kentucky, but he said he will be there and will speak to anyone who will listen.

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