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Rebels from the right

"Rebels from the right" Continued...

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

CONSERVATIVE CHALLENGER: Matt Bevin.
John Sommers II/Reuters/Landov
CONSERVATIVE CHALLENGER: Matt Bevin.
Bevin and other conservative upstarts trail in the polls. In 2010 the political establishment was caught off guard by the grassroots surge that saw upsets like the tea party–backed Mike Lee toppling Utah GOP incumbent Sen. Robert Bennett. But McConnell’s “crush them” remark suggests that veteran Republicans up for reelection this year are coming out of their corners ready to throw punches.

McConnell, who has represented Kentucky since 1985, is using some of the $18.2 million he has raised to pummel Bevin. Negative ads call Bevin a con man and a fraud. Bevin, who has raised less than $2 million so far, has seen his unfavorability ratings go up in the wake of the attacks. But he is not giving up.

He said this primary season is bigger than a tug of war within the Republican Party. He sees it as a battle for the heart and soul of the entire political process. “This collusion between big government and big labor and big business and big news comes at the expense of all those they are supposedly there to represent and report to and serve,” he said.

Even if he falls short of victory, Bevin hopes his candidacy inspires others the same way his daughter’s confident response to a call inspired him. Bevin wonders if one of those inspired will become in a generation the “next Abraham Lincoln when our nation critically needs it. Maybe that is the point. I don’t know.”

Bevin and Bowers and McDaniel are challenging a system where many of those entrenched within become more concerned about their own power and wealth than America’s power and wealth. But if one of the old guard goes down, the loss could send shock waves through the Washington establishment.

“Liberty is never safer,” says Sen. Cruz, “than when politicians are terrified.”

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.

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