01/22/2014 09:48 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

FreedomWorks Backs Matt Bevin Over Mitch McConnell


FreedomWorks, a national conservative political organization that has backed many tea party protests, on Tuesday endorsed businessman Matt Bevin in his primary challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The group's president, Matt Kibbe, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that FreedomWorks would spend up to $500,000 on the race, trying to help "distribute information, putting up yard signs, making sure voters in the primary learn about Matt Bevin."

While not a shock, FreedomWorks' announcement is the latest sign that McConnell will encounter problems on his right flank as he tries to stave off a primary challenger. Two other tea party-aligned groups, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project, have endorsed Bevin. SCF is helping to raise funds for Bevin and released a television ad on his behalf.

Bevin raised nearly $900,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013, and he loaned his campaign $600,000 in the preceding quarter, netting a total of $822,000 between July and September. McConnell is much more of a fundraising juggernaut -- he raised $2.3 million in the third quarter of last year and has about $10 million in cash on hand.

The Senate minority leader faces another tea party challenge from Unbridled Liberty, a group of out-of-state activists running an organizing effort on Bevin's behalf. One of the group's leaders, Greg Fettig, is an unabashed conspiracy theorist who thinks President Barack Obama was born outside of the United States and is an "illegal president."

The McConnell campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

CORRECTION: This post originally misstated Bevin's fundraising numbers for the latter half of last year. He raised nearly $900,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013; the loan to himself of $600,000 occurred in the third quarter, and did not represent a portion of the former figure, as initially reported.



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