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Hotline On Call

McConnell Amps Up Feud With Conservative Group

The Senate minority leader and his allies have declared war on the Senate Conservatives Fund.

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

photo of Alex  Roarty
November 25, 2013

When Mitch McConnell wants to destroy you, you'll know it.

The Senate minority leader has declared war against the Senate Conservatives Fund, an outside group supporting his Republican primary opponent, Matt Bevin. But rather than moving on and focusing on his Democratic opponent, McConnell and his allies have trained their attacks on SCF and its allies—with no apparent endgame in sight.

The latest salvo came Monday, when National Review published a story that detailed the Kentucky senator's deep displeasure with Nebraska GOP candidate Ben Sasse for being endorsed by the conservative group. McConnell let him know about it during a one-on-one meeting earlier this month.

 

"As he walked out of the room, Sasse turned to [McConnell adviser Josh] Holmes—'That didn't go well!' " wrote NR's Jonathan Strong.

The report also revealed that pressure from "McConnell allies" forced SCF's bookkeeper into leaving the group last week.

Right now, McConnell is fighting a three-front war: Bevin, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, and the outside conservative group. At times, his campaign seems most focused on the latter:

– In early November, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced it would not issue contracts to Jamestown Associates because of the work the conservative consulting group did with SCF. This moment, according to Republicans on both sides of the feud, was the spark that lit the fuse of the ongoing battle.

– The no-holds-barred approach to outside critics was best described by Holmes, in the same New York Times story. "SCF has been wandering around the country destroying the Republican Party like a drunk who tears up every bar they walk into," Holmes said. "The difference this cycle is that they strolled into Mitch McConnell's bar and he doesn't throw you out, he locks the door."

– An NRSC spokesman criticized SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins by name in a National Journal story about the Michigan Senate race.

– Last month, McConnell said in a conference call with GOP donors that SCF needed to be punched in the face like a schoolyard bully, according to the Washington Examiner.

– A spokeswoman for McConnell's reelection campaign called criticism from SCF blaming McConnell for fallout over the nuclear option "profoundly stupid."

This article appears in the November 26, 2013 edition of NJ Daily.

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