May 1, 2013 —
We seldom agree with his policies or his tactics but we make no secret of our admiration of Mitch McConnell’s political survival skills as the senior U. S. senator from Kentucky.
For example, he tried in 2010 to hand pick former Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a fellow Republican, to replace retiring Sen. Jim Bunning.
But Dr. Rand Paul, a little known eye surgeon from Bowling Green, and the emerging Kentucky Tea Party had other ideas.
After Paul spent some time in Washington and grabbed more than a few headlines and network airtime, our new senator was embraced by McConnell as a trusted colleague and new best friend.
When McConnell last ran for reelection in 2008, he went across Kentucky to take credit for a reported $195 million in federal funds he returned to the state that year alone through budget earmarks and his growing influence in the GOP’s Senate leadership.
Now, as he campaigns for a sixth, six-year term in 2014, he wants Kentucky voters to see him as an ultra-conservative who now wants the state to send such money back to Washington to help balance the budget.
To make that point, McConnell announced recently that he and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida had introduced what is cleverly named the Returned Exclusively For Unpaid National Debt (REFUND) Act.
According to McConnell’s news release, the bill would allow states to identify and "return unwanted federal funds to the Treasury to help pay down our deficits and debt."
With every state budget struggling, we can’t envision a national stampede to return all of that "unwanted" federal money.
In our view, our senior senator is pandering to those “less is best” Tea Partiers and other voters on the far right who say they want to do away with all or most of the federal government.
This silly scenario speaks volumes about what has happened in the Republican Party in recent years.
Our powerful senator who once bragged about how much pork he brought home now is looking at his worst opinion poll results since he first went to the Senate in 1984.
He apparently is working diligently to overcome his potential vulnerability by discouraging serious challengers from either party.
The fact that McConnell already has raised $13 million for the 2014 campaign may be all of the deterrent he needs to win another term.
His opponent in 2008 had bumper stickers inscribed with “Ditch Mitch”.
In 2014, it might be reworded as “Which Mitch?”