Kentucky Dems may throw the Tea Party a McConnell life raft

Democrats are considering teaming up with Tea Partyers in an effort to oust Mitch McConnell in 2014

Topics: Mitch McConnell, The Tea Party, Democrats, 2014 elections, Kentucky,

Today in strange bedfellows: Democrats in Kentucky are considering teaming up with Tea Party groups to help mount a challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Tea Partyers have been considering mounting a primary challenge to McConnell, who is up for reelection in 2014. But Tea Party groups have lately been having trouble raising the cash needed to mount viable campaigns against incumbents like McConnell, who are well-funded and powerful.

In come the Democrats, who see the Tea Party groups as a way to help weaken McConnell through a tough primary fight, or oust him by fielding a far-right candidate who could be picked off by a Democrat in the general election. Politico reports:

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“We are doing a lot of reaching out to some of the tea party folks across the state,” said Keith Rouda, a field organizer with the liberal group MoveOn and the Democratic super PAC, Progress Kentucky. “What we’re finding — at least in this stage of the race — we’re finding that our interests align. It’s unusual.”

Progress Kentucky has begun circulating petitions urging Republicans to jump into the race, and Democratic donors active in Bluegrass State and national politics are privately making it clear they’re willing to help bankroll a tea party candidate. Neither the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee nor the Kentucky Democratic Party is involved in the unorthodox efforts at this point, officials said.

Sarah Durand, president of the Louisville Tea Party, says that Democrats have offered to spend up to seven figures helping them out in the Republican primary.

“I guess the fear would be ending up in the Dick Lugar situation where you oust the incumbent and end up with a Democrat,” Durand told Politico. “But I really think if Sen. McConnell can’t garner some enthusiasm within the tea party, which is going to be very difficult at this point, then he’s going to have a really tough road ahead in this election cycle.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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