Rebels from the right

"Rebels from the right" Continued...

Issue: "Coat of many dollars," May 3, 2014

Associated Press/Photo by Rogelio V. Solis
In his late 20s at the time, McDaniel wrestled with the loss by studying C.S. Lewis’ writings on pain. McDaniel, now 41, slowly accepted how pain can lead to spiritual growth. He turned to serving others. For the last decade McDaniel has donated up to 500 turkeys each Christmas to needy families.

McDaniel, now a state senator who many predict has the best chance of pulling off a primary upset, said the pain of watching his father die “has prepared me for the fights ahead” and steeled him for whatever the political world throws at him. He says he is running in the June 3 primary because he thinks Christians should not abandon the political battlefield. “People of faith are struggling because they are being marginalized, but at some point we have to re-engage the system and that includes the government. We have offered so much in our country’s history.”

He says one of the first bills he will introduce if elected would establish term limits: “I don’t believe in political aristocracies.”

Det Bowers remembers being lifted up on his father’s shoulders to place campaign posters onto telephone polls in South Carolina’s low country for his uncle who was a state senator. As a young adult, Bowers campaigned for Democrats, serving on the state campaign team during the 1988 presidential candidacy of Michael Dukakis.

In 1990 Bowers, then a successful lawyer, mulled over signing a multimillion-dollar contract to buy a chain of convenience stores. He sought the advice of a friend who was a pastor. That conversation led to Bowers becoming a Christian. He not only dropped the purchasing of the stores, he abandoned his law practice. Fifteen months after being converted, Bowers entered seminary. When people told him he was crazy, Bowers replied it was what God was calling him to do.

Last year he began another abrupt professional shift, resigning the pastorate he held for 13 years at Christ Church of the Carolinas in Columbia. He is tackling what he believes is another calling: taking on Sen. Lindsey Graham who has been a lawmaker on Capitol Hill since 1995. “Sacrifice is the most powerful pulpit in the world,” Bowers said when asked why he would attempt another change at 62 years old. Bowers is running because he believes those in Washington are “tearing the wings off the American eagle.”

He raised some eyebrows after raising more than $417,000 in just two months this year. That is far short of the $8 million Graham has amassed in his coffers over the years, but Bowers' haul is encouraging outside groups to get involved. Bowers hopes to force a runoff by preventing Graham from getting a majority of the votes in the June 10 primary that features a field of seven candidates.

In Kentucky, only two candidates are in the GOP primary—Bevin and McConnell. Bevin grew up in a home with no television and heated by two woodstoves. He paid his own way to Washington and Lee University by washing dishes and earning an ROTC scholarship. After four years as an Army officer with a mechanized infantry division, Bevin started a series of investment firms that led him to Louisville.

His interests extend beyond the Bluegrass State. He and his wife Glenna have nine children aged 4 to 15, including four children adopted from Ethiopia over the last two years.

For years Bevin has developed infrastructure projects for orphanages in India and Africa, including building a computer academy for girls at a mission shelter in Kedgaon, India. In 2003, Bevin traveled with his oldest daughter, Brittiney, for the dedication of the lab. Brittiney, 17 at the time, came home convinced she had been called by God to become a missionary. That summer she worked at an orphanage in Romania. Six weeks after returning home for her senior year of high school, Brittiney died in a car accident.

Her story of following her calling has inspired many in the community and beyond, including her own father. Bevin believes that too many career politicians become enveloped by the pomp of power at the expense of serving the will of the people. He long prayed for someone to step forward. During this time he said he became like Jonah. “It is always easy to hope for somebody else, and to wait for somebody else,” he said. “But sometimes we are that somebody.”

Bevin, who owns all or part of 10 companies, said Washington will not stop spending money it doesn’t have as long as its lawmakers have little experience with how to balance budgets and make payrolls in the private sector.


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