POLITICS
07/23/2013 12:35 pm ET | Updated Jul 23, 2013

Matt Bevin, Kentucky Tea Partier, Confirms Challenge Against Mitch McConnell

After days of inching toward a 2014 challenge against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), tea partier Matt Bevin made it official in a media advisory released by his camp on Tuesday.

"Matt Bevin will kick-off Day 2 of his tour across Kentucky announcing his candidacy for United States Senate," the note read, announcing his upcoming schedule.

On Monday, Bevin's team released an advisory saying that he would declare his intentions for the Senate race on Wednesday, before embarking on a three-day, eight-stop tour of the state. Most took this as a sign that he would be throwing his hat in the ring.

HuffPost's Luke Johnson reports on the preliminary rounds of sniping between McConnell and Bevin, who has been actively considering the challenge for months:

McConnell's campaign attacked Bevin on Friday in a statement. "Matthew Griswold Bevin is not a Kentucky conservative, he is merely an East Coast con man," said campaign manager Jesse Benton. "While it is sad to see someone who claims to be a Republican doing Barack Obama’s bidding, his campaign is nothing more than a nuisance. Mitch McConnell will never waiver in his fight for our Kentucky values."

McConnell has a sizable war chest of more than $9.5 million, a substantial hurdle to any challenger. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, has announced that she will challenge him in a general election. The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman reported that she wowed Democratic donors at a recent meeting on Martha's Vineyard.

Despite his fundraising advantage, polls have shown McConnell vulnerable to a challenge on his right flank. A Courier-Journal poll in January found that only 34 percent of Republicans would support him against all challengers. A survey by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling in April found that 46 percent of GOP primary voters support McConnell, while 32 percent would back someone more conservative.

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