Since the 48-year-old Republican businessman narrowly became the GOP’s nominee in the Kentucky governor’s race last month, Bevin has publicly and privately wooed McConnell, trying to reset his relationship with a man who controls the state’s political machine. Immediately after he was declared the victor by 83 votes, Bevin called McConnell at his home in Louisville to solicit the GOP leader’s advice. He made a humorous video and showed it to the state Republican Party to make light of their acrimonious past. (He made sure to give McConnell’s team a heads-up before releasing it publicly, even offering veto rights.)
Bevin has scrubbed his Twitter account of all tweets prior to February — which included a parade of anti-McConnell posts. He and his team have been making overtures to key figures in McConnell’s world, including some who once launched fierce assaults on Bevin’s record. And he has sought to tap into McConnell’s vast fundraising network ahead of what will likely be a bruising campaign against Democrat Jack Conway, the state’s attorney general.
McConnell publicly endorsed Bevin after his victory but hasn’t said much beyond a terse statement. Exactly how much the GOP leader will help Bevin is still undetermined. First, Bevin will have to prove he’s a formidable candidate and finish healing old wounds before the GOP leader considers putting the strength of his machine behind him, several GOP sources said.
Politico seems to be taking Bevin to task here for behaving in a thoroughly predictable manner for a politician. The most powerful man in the Senate is his senior senator, and last year’s primary unpleasantness will have to be put aside if he is going to have a shot at becoming governor.
It will be interesting to see just how cautious McConnell remains. When dealing with the establishment Republican types who rally around the McConnells of the party, those of us yearning for new blood and ideas are often lectured about the importance of simply focusing on Republicans winning elections.
Here is a good opportunity for them to take their own advice.