The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Primary Politics: Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014?

Posted on | August 5, 2013 | 142 Comments

Interesting developments: Matt Bevin is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky GOP primary.

Checking his biography, I’m glad to see that Bevin is a graduate of Washington & Lee University, a U.S. Army veteran, and a small business owner — exactly the kind of outsider “not a politician” profile anyone would want in a Tea Party candidate. If grassroots conservatives in Kentucky rally behind Bevin, I think we can start chilling the champagne for Mitch McConnell’s retirement party. However, defeating the party’s Senate leader in a primary would be completely unprecedented.

If this is Star Wars, Luke Skywalker and the rebel alliance can’t expect Darth Vader to surrender the Empire without a fight. Or can we?


We were standing outside the Continental Lounge in Rosslyn, Va., while the young Republican operative explained it to me.
“All they care about is getting their chairmanships back, and they don’t care how they get there,” said the operative. “They don’t want to spend any money, so they were looking for a self-funder.”
“They” are Republican senators, and what my friend was explaining was the otherwise inexplicable decision of the National Republican Senatorial Committee to endorse Charlie Crist in the Florida Senate race — 15 months before the primary!

Ah, those heady days of 2009, when the Tea Party uprising was a new and untested force in American political life, when Marco Rubio was 35 points behind Charlie Crist in the polls and supporters of that unknown underdog Marco Rubio were told he had no chance!

Rubio’s role in the “Gang of Eight” has rather tarnished his reputation among conservatives, but thank God he beat Charlie Crist, eh?

Nothing could be more corrupt than the shabby deal whereby John Cornyn, the NRSC and Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer — I pause to spit on the ground — lined up behind Crist in May 2009.

The “Not One Red Cent” rebellion was the first shot of a guerrilla struggle, with the Tea Party grassroots as the ragtag insurgents in a long war for control of the Republican Party that has not ended yet, and won’t end — cannot end — until the rebels have utterly vanquished the Beltway GOP Establishment and their go-along-to-get-along philosophy of bipartisan compromise. There is nothing that the present-day Democrat Party believes in that any patriotic American can endorse, and all talk of “bipartisanship” is anathema.

You cannot defeat Democrats by promising to cooperate with Democrats, and the GOP’s corrupt compromisers must be replaced by a new generation of conservatives who understand a very old idea: Give voters a choice, not an echo, as Phyllis Schalfly said in 1964.

To hell with anyone who says the politics of principle is unrealistic, who argues that it is a “smart” and pragmatic thing for Republicans to position themselves as the “Me, Too” party, promising voters a more efficient Welfare State — Democrat Lite, as it were.

The Democrat are wrong, their liberal policy agenda is bad, and Republicans need not apologize for being the party of Right and Good.

Mid-term elections are always more about the grassroots than are the pursuit of independent “swing” voters that is typical of those gaudy national spectacles of a presidential campaign. Turnout is always lower in the mid-terms. So-called low-information voters — who are usually counted in opinion polls as undecided, “don’t know/don’t care” — can be spurred to vote in a presidential election by emotional appeals to do their patriotic duty as citizens. But it is very difficult to explain to these disaffected and ill-informed people why electing congressmen and senators and state legislators is ultimately important to the future of the country. And it is only in closely contested “swing” states that the parties make any real effort to mobilize voters even in a presidential campaign.

Understanding this factor is crucial to evaluating the stakes in 2014. In a deeply “red” state like Kentucky in a mid-term election, there is comparatively little chance that a bruising primary fight for the GOP Senate nomination will damage Republican prospects in November 2014. If Matt Bevin can somehow mobilize the kind of grassroots support necessary to defeat Mitch McConnell in the primary, Bevin will stomp Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election the way Godzilla stomped Tokyo.

Conservatives therefore need not listen to any scaredy-cat talk that support for Matt Bevin will endanger Republican hopes for capturing control of the Senate in 2014. The GOP Establishment will encourage such fears, and the liberal media will cheerfully publicize such talk, in exactly the same way the same people claimed that the Tea Party uprising of 2009-2010 was bad for Republicans. Yet the result in November 2010 was a historic landslide victory for Republicans, and if John Boehner doesn’t understand that he owes his control of the House Speaker’s gavel to the conservative grassroots, how better to remind Boehner of this fact than to send his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell into early retirement?

Simple message for you, Mister Speaker: You could be next.

All of these thoughts were inspired by Erick Erickson’s commentary on his encounter with an NRSC representative at this past weekend’s Red State Gathering  in New Orleans.

What Erick relates is unfortunate on all sides. The NRSC operative was, we may suppose, just following orders, and Erick and I have had more than a few disputes in the past couple of years. But my own position in the fundamental question that Erick addresses hasn’t changed since 2009, when he and I were in 100% agreement: The NRSC should stay the hell out of contested Republican primaries, period.

Set aside any question of ideology, friendship or personal interest, and what it comes down to is this: Either the Republican Party represents an active and organic popular movement — a principled and patriotic opposition to the corrupt agenda of the Democrats — or else the GOP is simply a vehicle of careerist political ambition.

A top-down party controlled by insiders motivated by their narrow private interests cannot expect the kind of committed loyalty that a genuinely principled grassroots movement inspires. For the NRSC to go meddling in a primary — even on behalf of the Senate Minority Leader — is anathema to the kind of grassroots party the GOP must be, if it is ever to defeat the Democrats and become a governing majority again.

If Mitch McConnell wants to be re-nominated as the Republican candidate for Senate in Kentucky, let him spend his own campaign funds and mobilize his own resources for that purpose, and not dishonestly use national party resources against Matt Bevin.

And frankly, I think the spectacle of a contested primary can and should be averted altogether: Mitch McConnell should retire.

No hard feelings, Senator. Cash in your chips and walk away from the table, take up a gig at a think tank or lobby shop, collect your pension and appear on TV as an “elder statesman.” I’m sure Fox News would pay you a nice six-figure salary as a commentator.

There is a quite recent precedent, after all.

Last November, when the Retire #Taxby Chambliss movement began, nobody imagined it might actually happen, but it did, didn’t it?

Is this crazy? Of course it is. But everybody told us we were crazy to imagine that Marco Rubio could defeat Charlie Crist.

Until this morning, I’d never even heard the name Matt Bevin. All I know about him is what I’ve quickly skimmed from his Web site biography, and frankly I don’t give a damn about whatever his political “negatives” might be. This isn’t really about Matt Bevin. It’s not about Mitch McConnell. It’s not about Erick Erickson. This is about America’s future, and we are not a nation built by timid and fearful souls.

Here’s the way I see it: We’re playing Texas Hold ‘Em. It’s been one of those long nights — win a little, lose a little, up and down, never a chance to rake a big pot. The chips are dwindling. No guts, no glory, so if we get any kind of a decent hand, we might as well go all-in.

Folks, as crazy as this may seem, I think that if we will all rally behind Matt Bevin — and rally now — Mitch McConnell will announce by Christmas that he won’t seek re-election to the Senate.

No contested primary, no wasted resources, no hard feelings, just a changing of the guard, and a passing of the torch.

This development will shock the daylights out of the GOP Beltway Establishment, which has “tamed” Marco Rubio and thought they had domesticated the Tea Party movement.

Do we want bipartisan compromise?

Do we want Democrat Lite? Go along to get along?

Not just “no” — hell, no. All in!





142 Responses to “Primary Politics: Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014?”

  1. Hanzo
    August 5th, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

    I tend to agree.

  2. Hanzo
    August 5th, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

    He has a tendency to cave on critical issues. He staunchly opposes many policies of the Obama regime, only to later acquiesce.

  3. Palin_3D_Store
    August 5th, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

    Primary Politics: Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014?

  4. DaveO
    August 5th, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

    Long answer: No. Those who finance the GOP also finance the DNC. That kind of money buys votes by the busload. The grassroots needs to abandon the GOP and go for the TEA Party.
    Justification for my answer: every cycle since 1988, the GOP makes the plea that it campaigns to the center, but will govern with fiscal-social-libertarian conservatism as its guiding ideology. When given the chance to govern, the GOP goes Centrist, with strong fiscal and social liberalism as its guiding ideology, and conservatives and libertarians shat on as unwashed, unintellectual racist homophobic misogynists by the Establishmentarian Elite of the GOP.
    Considering the GOP top candidates for this cycle are Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio, it looks like conservatives only hope is a Senator Sarah Palin and Reid’s parliamentary rules.

  5. McConnell Already 'Slinging Mud' in Kentucky GOP Primary - Lowering the Boom
    August 5th, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

    […] at The Other McCain: Primary Politics: Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in […]

  6. Becca Lower
    August 5th, 2013 @ 7:32 pm
  7. Quartermaster
    August 5th, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

    I have never said there is a perfect candidate, but there are some that ARE evil. McCain and Graham are two of those people. They are not merely imperfect, they can be depended upon to stab you in the back.

    I use the word “evil” advisedly. If the word does not apply to people like McCain and Graham, then it does not apply to anyone.

    You can have whatever opinion you wish, but I don’t buy off on your pragmatism.

  8. Richard McEnroe
    August 5th, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

    If anybody really misses Adjoran, he’s over at AoS doing his march behind the machine schtick there.

  9. Richard McEnroe
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

    McConnell has denied conservative Republicans, elected by the base, their proportionate share of committee seats and party responsibilities. He has not fought worth a damn against the vast majority of Obie’s disastrous and often illegal appointments and should have. He has allowed McCain to effectively usurp his authority in the Senate GOP. He is weak, he is afraid and he is outliving his usefulness.

  10. Richard McEnroe
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

    Tendency? Try intention.

  11. Quartermaster
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

    He has outlived his usefulness. His “sell by” date is looooooong past.

  12. Quartermaster
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

    The GOP desperately needs to burn a lot of bridges with the left.

  13. Quartermaster
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:12 pm

    The problem is that you don’t know if they can win until you put it to the touch. Until election day, it’s mostly guess work.

  14. Quartermaster
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

    That can create a backlash. Particularly if Bevin plays it right.

  15. Fred Chittenden
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

    Mitch and his LOSERship gang claim they’re on the right side of issues — as if issues speak and think. The GOP needs folks who can speak in concise leadership clarity on many issues, not dinosaurs or gang members who speak mumbo jumbo about process leaving folks at least as ignorant as before about what the Gang and GOP stand for…

  16. JadedByPolitics
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

    Primary Politics: Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014? bastards too power hungry to retire!

  17. Hanzo
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

    Nice link. I just found out a couple hours ago that McConnell also is behind a website called, essentially regurgitating the same crap.

  18. Hanzo
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

    Well, I can’t read his mind so I was being charitable here. 🙂

  19. Becca Lower
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

    Thanks. Since I also live in SW Ohio, this hits closer to home than most of the stories Stacy covers. Glad to be able to chime in, you know? 🙂

  20. Richard McEnroe
    August 5th, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

    McConnell will never be majority leader. McCain has poisoned that well for him by flaunting his authority without consequences all the last year.

    McCain would have a better chance of becoming Majority Leader than McConnell would have of holding it.

  21. Hanzo
    August 5th, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

    Agreed. 🙂

  22. midwestconservative
    August 5th, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

    Any well-funded Republican can win a Federal office ( Senate, Congress) in Kentucky ( It’s the State Gov. that’s difficult) Rand Paul proved that in 2010.

  23. midwestconservative
    August 5th, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

    This is McConnell’s typical MO, make the voters hate his opponent more than they do him. Grimes will be tough but Bevin is already leading her in the polls ( though the largest share is undecided) that’s a good sign, McConnell leads Bevin by 58% but that’s not necessarily insurmountable this early.
    Grimes is holding McConnell under 50 though, and that should be concerning for any incumbent.

  24. midwestconservative
    August 5th, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

    McConnell is the Minority Leader, won’t be too hard for him to get the Majority Leader position if he wants it. McCain stands no chance of getting any leadership position. He’s ticked off just about every Republican other than Graham and Collins.

  25. Finrod Felagund
    August 5th, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

    I was wondering why the signal-to-noise ratio seemed unusually high.

  26. This Stupid Week, Sunshine in the Morning Edition | Blackmailers Don't Shoot
    August 5th, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

    […] Time to throw the bums out. (The Other McCain) […]

  27. crosspatch
    August 5th, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

    Sometimes you have to choose what is the least dangerous candidate who can win the election. That is pretty much called maturity. Sometimes you are presented with choices such as 1: Ribeye 2: Brussels Sprouts 3: Crap Sandwich. If it looks like Crap Sandwich will beat Ribeye but Sprouts will beat Sandwich, I will vote for Sprouts.

    In purple or blue states, a “true conservative” isn’t likely to win a statewide election. Sure, there might be conservative districts where a “true conservative” can win a House seat, we have those here in California. But to win a statewide election, a Republican is not going to be 100% down the line on every single issue.

    A modern example would be Walker in Wisconsin That is a state that was very deep blue. Walker says he is in favor of the immigration bill, so now he’s a stinkin, rotten RINO to hear some say it. In fact, I would bet many of those saying it are Democrats pretending to be conservatives who would love nothing more than to see Republicans turn their backs on him so they can get a Democrat elected.

    A Texas Republican is probably not going to get elected to statewide office in a place like California or Oregon or Washington or Connecticut or several other states. What bugs me is that many people either have no concept of regional differences and expect every candidate in every state to run as if they are running in that person’s district. It’s just insane sometimes.

  28. richard mcenroe
    August 6th, 2013 @ 12:19 am

    McCain doesn’t need it. He has the effective power as long as his little gang of 8 gives him the effective veto power over anything McConnell and the GOP try to do.

  29. midwestconservative
    August 6th, 2013 @ 1:09 am

    the Gang of 8 is only immigration, not day to day business.
    That being said only Graham seems to like McCain on a personal level, God knows McCain has gone out of his way to tick off even his fellow RINOS, so no I don’t expect him to have effective power after 2014. Especially not if Graham gets primaried. heck McCain will likely switch parties if by so doing he can keep the GOP from getting a majority and thus spite the “tea party hobbits”

  30. Quartermaster
    August 6th, 2013 @ 6:56 am

    That’s your affair. If I were in KY, however, I would not vote for McConnell period. Twits like him, McCain and Graham do what they do because they aren’t punished for it. They become corrupt and act like normal human beings who are never brought to account.

    It would be nice if they lived in “blue” states, but they don’t. So your theory fails dramatically and we end up with, essentially one party rule because people like you are too immature to deal with the problem as it needs to be dealt with. The left holds together and punishes apostasy. The GOP does not, and you see what you get.

  31. Brother_Bob
    August 6th, 2013 @ 7:00 am

    Primary Politics: Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014?

  32. RebellionDaily
    August 6th, 2013 @ 7:06 am

    “Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014?”
    #tlot #nwo #teaparty

  33. terresamonroe
    August 6th, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014?

  34. beaglescout
    August 6th, 2013 @ 9:51 am

    Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014?

  35. rsmccain
    August 6th, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    RT @commonpatriot: via @rsmccain: Primary Politics: Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014? #tcot

  36. ToneDagger
    August 6th, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

    Hope! RT @beaglescout Can the Grassroots Defeat the #GOP Establishment in 2014? #moreTea

  37. Emilio_Crosby
    August 6th, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

    Primary Politics: Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014?

  38. PubliusNV
    August 6th, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

    Primary Politics: Can the Grassroots Defeat the GOP Establishment in 2014?

  39. K-Bob
    August 6th, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

    I keep running into the odd person here and there online who says we really have to support the incumbent in case we lose one chamber or the other.

    Sorry, but this isn’t the Clinton years anymore. We are so over the cliff it isn’t about “not going over” anymore. We have absolutely nothing to gain from letting a progressive Republican maintain a seat when we have a chance to get them out.

    Vote against the Dem if that’s what it takes to primary or defeat some of the worst RINOs. We’re so very screwed as a nation now that re-electing the ones who voted for it is not a solution.

  40. K-Bob
    August 6th, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    My guess is he gets more attaboys there.

    I’ll shut up about it now.

  41. K-Bob
    August 6th, 2013 @ 3:01 pm


    But I’ve hit the old up-arrow on his comments plenty of times.

  42. ForsythTeaParty
    August 8th, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

    #TeaParty #KyPol #KySen #MattBevin #McConnell #Primary #ReturnoftheTeaParty Can #Grassroots Defeat the #GOPe in ’14?