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  1. #1
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Mitch McConnell Campaigns on Clout Despite Anti-Insider Mood

    Mark Levin

    Seriously folks, is this the best we can do?

    Mitch McConnell Campaigns on Clout Despite Anti-Insider Mood

    Kentucky Senator's Re-Election Bid to Test Whether Consummate Insider Can Win Amid Anti-Washington Feeling


    By PATRICK O'CONNOR
    Updated March 18, 2014 9:57 a.m. ET


    Sen. Mitch McConnell, above center at the U.S. Capitol with other Republican senators, will defend his seat in Kentucky's May GOP primary against a tea-party favorite, Matt Bevin. Getty Images

    HAZARD, Ky.—Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the U.S. Senate, is building his re-election campaign around a concept that hasn't been heard much recently: Vote for me—I'm powerful.
    In a February swing through southeastern Kentucky, Mr. McConnell touted his central role in inserting a pilot program for hemp growers into a recent farm bill and in fighting with the Obama administration over proposed rules on coal-fired power plants.
    In Kentucky, he has benefited from his grip on the state GOP, whose headquarters is named for him. Of the 68 Republicans in the Kentucky statehouse, 64 have endorsed him over his Republican-primary opponent, Matt Bevin, a Louisville businessman favored by tea-party activists.
    The 72-year-old Mr. McConnell is a veteran tactician skilled in pulling the levers of power. And despite historic levels of disdain among American voters for Washington and the deal-making that is the senator's forte, he is running on his clout, in his campaign tactics and his pitch to voters.
    "I'm going to try to appeal to all Kentucky voters," he said during the February tour, "about the future of the state and the significant loss of clout…if Kentuckians trade in, in effect, a potential majority leader."

    All told, Mr. McConnell's 2014 re-election bid is shaping up as a test of whether a consummate insider can win by openly touting his influence at a time when outsiders seem to hold more cachet.
    Most unaligned political observers are skeptical Mr. Bevin can unseat Mr. McConnell in the May primary. In the latest Bluegrass Poll of Kentucky voters, conducted by local media outlets, 55% said they favor the incumbent, versus 29% for Mr. Bevin—at a time some polls show tea-party popularity waning.
    But some McConnell supporters worry that some conservatives may refuse to vote in November, likely a tight race. The Bluegrass Poll found Mr. McConnell trailing his likely Democratic opponent 42% to 46% in the general election; other polls show the race deadlocked.
    Mr. McConnell warns that his defeat, and loss of his seat, would all but ensure continued Democratic control of the Senate. He has taken an increasingly hard line against the tea-party activists who helped nominate Senate candidates that lost in 2010 and 2012, denying the GOP some wins it expected. The GOP needs to net six seats to reclaim the Senate majority.
    "This fall, you'll have a choice: Do you want to take my desk and move it over on the other side of the aisle with somebody who is going to make Harry Reid …the play-caller in the Senate?" Mr. McConnell asked a lunch crowd here in coal country, referring to the Senate majority leader, a Democrat from Nevada. "Or do we want a leader of the majority from Kentucky, who believes in coal, who believes in the kind of America I think all of you and I think we ought to have?"
    That message resonates for voters like Winford Cornett, 61, of Carrie, Ky., who retired after 30 years in the coal industry. "If we lose him," he said after hearing the senator in Leburn, Ky., "we lose our voice in Washington."
    Mr. Bevin, happy to engage in the insider-versus-outsider debate, is stoking conservative resentment for Mr. McConnell. "The purpose of this party is not to help Republicans in this state, it's to help Mitch McConnell," said Mr. Bevin, 47, in an interview after addressing a multidenominational Christian gathering in the state capitol in Frankfort.
    "This is a state where he rules by fear," he said, "but people are weary of it."
    Mr. McConnell's likely Democratic opponent in November, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, 35, is similarly attacking him for his lengthy Washington tenure, telling voters he has been there too long and no longer represents Kentucky's interests.
    Mr. McConnell, nearly three decades in the Senate, is minority leader, a perch that makes him a particular target for those playing on anti-insider sentiment. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 81% of those surveyed disapproved of the job Congress is doing.
    That disapproval has leached into Kentucky. In the Bluegrass Poll, 60% of the 1,070 voters surveyed disapproved of the job Mr. McConnell is doing in Washington, matching Mr. Obama's rating in the poll. In October 2008, just before the senator's last election, 41% disapproved in the Poll.
    "We need a change," said Carol Miller, 67, a Kentucky bed-and-breakfast owner who previously voted for Mr. McConnell but plans to vote for Mr. Bevin. "I don't trust Mitch McConnell. I think he does what he does because he wants to be elected." She will probably vote for the incumbent if he wins the primary, but "it will be a sad day."
    Many Republican and Democratic incumbents, under similar anti-insider fire as they head toward elections, are playing down their work in Washington, often positioning themselves as voices for change.
    In contrast, Mr. McConnell and his allies haven't been shy about showing clout, including in campaign tactics. Since Mr. Bevin announced his candidacy last summer, McConnell allies have warned activists, some elected officials and political operatives who provide campaign services that they risk alienation by backing the senator's opponent, said people familiar with those warnings. A top consultant to Mr. Bevin said he fielded 15 to 20 calls from McConnell allies encouraging him to drop Mr. Bevin as a client.



    The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which supports Mr. McConnell, told other Republican campaigns not to do business with a consulting firm that produced ads for the Senate Conservatives Fund, one of several groups working to fuel discontent with the senator and some other GOP incumbents.
    "It was strictly a business decision," said NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring about the move, which was reported earlier by the New York Times. "We simply choose not to conduct business with firms or groups who actively support Democrat campaigns and help keep Harry Reid in power."
    Josh Holmes, a senior McConnell adviser, declined to discuss those episodes. He said Mr. Bevin—who is from New Hampshire and was an investment manager—and his supporters "live in their own reality where a self-funding, East Coast moderate…is more conservative than the most conservative Senate leader in modern history."
    At an event last fall, Mr. McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, appeared alongside Mr. Bevin onstage and quizzed him about the Constitution during an acrimonious back-and-forth in which the manager called Mr. Bevin "a really angry guy" and accused him of lying on his résumé. Mr. Bevin countered that Mr. McConnell has never worked in the private sector, dubbing him "the least popular senator in this nation."
    Such tactics have rankled Kentucky conservatives who aren't in the McConnell camp and have been a source of tension dating to the senator's efforts to deny Rand Paul the Republican nomination in 2010.
    Soon after, a group of tea-party activists started plotting Mr. McConnell's demise, interviewing would-be primary opponents before settling on Mr. Bevin. "In the past, people were afraid of him," said Scott Hofstra, spokesman for the United Kentucky Tea Party, who said he was among those involved in the plotting. "This is the best shot we're going to have to unseat him."
    Mr. McConnell, who dismisses conservative complaints, said after an event in Leburn, Ky., joined by Sen. Paul: "I don't think there's any particular reason conservatives should be upset about my performance. And, of course, I'm pleased to have the support of my colleague Rand Paul. Certainly, that's a solid conservative."
    The McConnell team is working to present a unified front, showing how he has the power to bring friend and former foe to his cause. During a recent campaign swing through small towns in southeastern Kentucky's coal country, Mr. McConnell traveled with an entourage of Kentucky elected officials including Mr. Paul and the top-ranking Republican in state government, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
    Mr. Paul credits Mr. McConnell for reaching out to him after the 2010 primary to unite Kentucky Republicans ahead of the general election. Mr. Paul endorsed him last year. The tea-party favorite's campaign manager, Mr. Benton, also runs Mr. McConnell's campaign.
    Mr. Comer's presence displayed Mr. McConnell's reach into the state-party network. Mr. Comer, who was 18 when he first met the senator in 1990, relied on Mr. McConnell for campaign advice, including where to run ads, during his first statewide race in 2011. Mr. Comer is now a leading contender to be Kentucky's next governor.
    These surrogates say Mr. McConnell is under fire from people outside Kentucky who don't know what he has done for the state, and that Kentuckians need the senator in Washington because he can stand up to people who don't share their values.
    At a stop in the Leslie County Courthouse, state Sen. Brandon Smith told constituents that Mr. McConnell's opponents outside Kentucky don't support coal production, gun rights or abortion restrictions. "They're beating on my senator because he's standing up for me," he said, "and that means he's standing up for you."
    Ever since Republicans defeated then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D., S.D.) a decade ago, party leaders have been top targets for the opposition. Ms. Grimes and other Democrats paint Mr. McConnell as the face of Republican obstruction in Congress, dubbing him "Senator Gridlock."
    "There is a cost to that gridlock, to that obstruction, to that extreme partisanship that we have suffered and endured under the failed leadership of Mitch McConnell," she told farmers recently in Eminence, Ky.
    The senator's conservative critics take the opposite tack, assailing him for cutting deals to reopen the government and extend the country's borrowing limit.
    There are some facets of influence Mr. McConnell doesn't stress. In past campaigns, he touted big federally funded projects like those to rebuild the Paducah waterfront and stabilize a bluff protecting the city of Hickman from the Mississippi River.
    Money he has directed to Kentucky has repaired dams and funded research at his alma maters, the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. But big taxpayer-funded projects, or "earmarks," have fallen out of favor in American politics.
    The McConnell team highlights subtler examples of how his influence in Washington benefits Kentucky. His first big introductory ad featured a worker at the Paducah uranium-enrichment plant who testified to Mr. McConnell's efforts to help workers exposed to dangerous materials.
    At the Hazard lunch, Mr. Paul credited the senior senator for demanding explanations from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about why a fish called the duskytail darter is preventing the Army Corps of Engineers from raising the water level in Lake Cumberland, a tourist destination whose traffic dropped after the Corps lowered the lake in 2006.
    In Leburn, Messrs. Comer and Paul credited Mr. McConnell for including a pilot program in the farm bill that would let Kentucky farmers grow hemp for industrial use, a potential tobacco alternative.
    On the stump, Mr. McConnell tells voters how he used his power to appoint farm-bill negotiators to ensure the hemp provisions were included. "There's absolutely no way this would have occurred without Sen. McConnell," Mr. Paul told the crowd of about 400 people in Leburn.
    Yet later that day, in London, Ky., hundreds swarmed a McConnell event at a Harley-Davidson HOG -0.51% dealership to protest his support for the bill, showing how focusing on his influence can cut two ways when a national-policy move runs afoul of local politics.
    The assembled were unhappy the bill included stiffer penalties for cockfighting. Some said they supported Mr. McConnell in past races but planned to vote for an opponent or to withhold their votes.
    "I've voted for Mitch McConnell in the past," said Tommy Brown, 33, of London, who organizes cockfights, "but he's not getting my vote this year," even if he wins the primary.
    Supporters continue pressing the senator's political-maneuvering prowess as a campaign message, including his work to prevent Kentucky tobacco farmers from seeing payments reduced by federal budget cuts.
    In coal country, Messrs. McConnell and Paul talked repeatedly about their work fighting proposed Obama-administration regulations on coal-fired facilities such as power plants.
    "They say he's lost touch. He hasn't lost touch," said James Phillips, 59, a circuit-court clerk, after a McConnell event. "He has to fight Obama and Harry Reid every day for everything we've got."

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/...21384257587704
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    From Project Votesmart.

    Remember he, along with Lindsey Graham and John McCain voted to give away the farm in 2006.

    From McConnell's complete voting record, go here.
    http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-v...mcconnell/?p=1



    S 2611 - Immigration Reform Bill - Key Vote


    National Key Votes

    Mitch McConnell voted Yea (Passage With Amendment) on this Legislation.

    Read statements Mitch McConnell made in this general time period.


    Stages



    Family



    Issues



    Stage Details


    Legislation - Bill Passed With Amendment (Senate) (62-36) - May 25, 2006(Key vote)

    Title: Immigration Reform Bill

    Vote Smart's Synopsis:Vote to pass a bill that increases border security and enforcement laws, establishes criteria for U.S. citizenship, and provides financial assistance programs for areas of immigration.


    Highlights:
    • Provides funds to increase the number of port-of-entry inspectors, Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators, and border patrol agents (Sec. 101).


    • Allocates funds for a "virtual fence" along the southern U.S. border and for vehicle barriers on the Tucson and Yuma, Arizona, borders (Secs. 102, 106).


    • Requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a surveillance and strategy plan in order to observe and secure U.S. land and maritime borders (Secs. 111, 112).


    • Calls upon the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to develop a visa policy and an information exchange plan to track individual immigrants who enter each country (Sec. 113).


    • Provides financial assistance for tribal, state, and local law enforcement within 100 miles of the US border with Canada or Mexico or in high impact areas (Sec. 153).


    • Includes interior enforcement provisions against undocumented immigrants thought to be involved in gang-related crimes, terrorism, fraud, immigrant smuggling, sexually offensive crimes, or who were denied entry by other countries (Secs. 201-205).


    • Establishes criminal penalties for immigrants who illegally enter or are present in the U.S., those who employ undocumented immigrants, and those who participate in undocumented immigrant harboring or smuggling (Sec. 274, 275).


    • Requires the Electronic Employment Verification System to be implemented and used by employers to ensure that undocumented immigrants are not employed and makes it illegal to hire or continue to employ undocumented immigrants (Sec. 274).


    • Creates a guest worker program (H-2C visa program) allowing no more than 200,000 immigrants annually to enter the U.S. and fill vacant jobs for a three-year admission period with the possibility of a three-year extension granted by the Secretary of Homeland Security after proof of employment and proof that the job can not be filled by an American (Sec. 403).


    • Exempts widows, orphans, minor children, spouses, and students with advance degrees from the annual cap of 480,000 for family sponsored immigrant visas (Secs. 501, 504, 506, 507).


    • Allows immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for the past five years to be eligible for U.S. citizenship as long as they pass a background check, pay all back taxes and fines, maintain a job for six additional years, learn English, and pay a fine (Sec. 601).


    • Requires any immigrant who has lived and worked in the U.S. for two years to register with the Homeland Department and must then leave the country three years after registration in order to apply for a visa and pass a background check (Sec. 601).


    • Establishes the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2006, which allows immigrants to receive permanent resident status through the Blue Card Program if they prove agricultural employment in the U.S. for two years prior to December 31, 2005 (Sec. 613).



    See The Voting Record
    Full Bill Text



    Legislation - Introduced (Senate) - April 7, 2006

    Title: Immigration Reform Bill
    Full Bill Text


    Sponsors


    • Arlen Specter (PA - D) (Out Of Office)

    Co-sponsors



    http://votesmart.org/bill/3385/7801/...on-reform-bill

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