The year 1984 was notable for a number of reasons: then-President Ronald Reagan was re-elected by an overwhelming majority, the medium US income was just over $21,000, and the King of Pop, the late Michael Jackson, had the best-selling album for the first quarter. This was also the year that Senator Mitch McConnell was first elected to the Senate after serving as a local county executive in Kentucky. With McConnell approaching 30 years in elected office, there is no doubt that he has risen to the higher ranks as the senior Senator from Kentucky, having served as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and serving on the powerful Appropriations Committee. But is he in touch with Kentuckians?
Recent polls have indicated that McConnell’s popularity has waned, attributing this to his failure of leadership during the government shutdown last fall, and also that he is one of the least popular Senators in the country. Some polls have indicated he is running neck and neck with likely Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
John Gizzi, Newsmax’s chief political columnist and White House correspondent weighs in on Senator McConnell.
“I covered his first election back in 1984,” he tells me. “He beat Senator Dee Huddleston. His issue was that Huddleston never came back – he had a bloodhound looking for him, and it worked. Ronald Reagan was winning big. That was 30 years ago.”
“I’m just saying that now, things change and people get tired of elected officials even when they vote the right way. Just like furniture or an old car, even when they look right, they work right – you’re kind of tired of them and say I need something new,” muses Gizzi.
“Senator McConnell has this great loyalty with the party. He keeps in touch with grassroots. He is back there a lot, he goes to all of the major events. And in the end, this is not someone who has not lost touch with people,” Gizzi tells me.
However, not everyone agrees with this viewpoint. “Mitch McConnell is not a beloved figure in Kentucky,” says Scott Hofstra, spokesman for the United Kentucky Tea Party.
“We are working very hard to retire him in the May primary. Recent polls in the state show some interesting numbers,” Hofstra says. “The latest Rasmussen poll showed that McConnell’s disapproval rating was 60%, his approval rating was only 32% (lower than Barack Obama’s approval rating in Kentucky) and that if the general election were held today, McConnell would lose to Alison Grimes (the Democrat) by 4%. The same poll showed that Matt would defeat Grimes by 6%. Several reporters have pointed out that the same poll showed that McConnell was ahead of Bevin by 26%. What this tells me is that if McConnell manages to beat Matt in the primary, Conservative voters will do one of two things. They will stay home, or they will vote for Grimes. We have been trying to persuade the diehard McConnell supporters that in order to keep the seat in Conservative hands, they need to vote for Matt in the primary. These two candidates have absolutely divided the Republican Party in the state of Kentucky. I only hope that after the primary, both groups can come together to keep the seat out of the Democrats hands,” says Hofstra.
Hofstra also points out McConnell’s questionable votes to fund M-16s to support the Muslim Brotherhood, along with his support for big business. “McConnell is not beloved in Kentucky,” said Hofstra.
Note: McConnell’s ACU rating is 100% as of 2013.