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Who Is Mitch McConnell's Mystery Tea-Party Rival? Who Is Mitch McConnell's Mystery Tea-Party Rival?

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Who Is Mitch McConnell's Mystery Tea-Party Rival?

Wealthy Louisville businessman Matt Bevin could threaten McConnell in a primary.

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Matt Bevin stands at the site of his family's factory destroyed by fire in East Hampton, Conn. He has New England roots, but could run in Kentucky. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)  ()

It was only two weeks ago when tea-party Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he wasn't aware of a primary challenge to his senior colleague, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

That appears to be changing.

 

The news that Matt Bevin, a wealthy Kentucky businessman with ties to Connecticut, is considering running against McConnell has Kentuckians and Washington insiders wanting to know more about Bevin's background.

So, who is he?

The Connecticut-Kentucky connection

 

Originally from New Hampshire and educated at the Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine, Bevin, 46, moved to Louisville in the late 1990s after working as an investment consultant in Pennsylvania and Boston, according to a profile in a Louisville business journal. In Louisville, Bevin started Integrity Asset Management after National Asset Management, where he worked, was sold to Invesco. Today, Bevin is an adviser at Waycross Partners, a Louisville investment-management firm.

His family business, though, is Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, an East Hampton, Conn., company that makes bells. One of its products  is called the "Kentucky Bell." Bevin serves as president and appeared in public with Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut in 2012 when a fire destroyed the bell factory. 

Tea-party darling or delinquent?

Bevin told the Associated Press he did not have fire insurance and that the company received a state matching grant and some insurance proceeds to prevent a work stoppage. 

 

Some in the Kentucky tea-party movement, though, criticized the company for taking a state grant.

"Would this business owner taking taxpayer money to rebuild his business after a fire be considered to support limited government, free-markets, fiscal responsibility? What happened to his business insurance coverage?" asked John T. Kemper of the United Kentucky Tea Party, according to WHAS 11.

If Kemper is skeptical, Louisville Tea Party President Sarah Durand, told a reporter that the GOP approached Bevin about possibly running, not the other way around.

Other Kentucky Republicans who back McConnell warn that the emergence of a tea-party challenger could play into Democrats' designs. They cite groups allied with Democrats, such as Progress Kentucky, that are focused on defeating McConnell.

Wealthy philanthropist

Bevin, who is married to Glenna Bevin, has nine children, according to spokeswoman Amy Lowe. He graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1989 and served for four years in the Army in Louisiana and Texas, according to Business First. In 2012, the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville opened, thanks to an endowment from the couple. The Bevins' daughter Brittiney, who had "an incredible heart for missions," died at 17 in a car accident near the seminary. Matt Bevin is in Ethiopia working on a pair of humanitarian projects and was not available for comment, a spokeswoman told Insider Louisville.

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