Wonder what Jim Bunning thinks about this?
On matters of policy, we always were bigger fans of Jim Bunning as a U.S. senator from Kentucky than we were of Mitch McConnell. Bunning usually staked out a more conservative position on many issues, and there were many times when Bunning canceled out Mitch's vote when McConnell sided with the liberals on certain things.
Politically, however, Bunning ran aground on the same rocky shore as McConnell did when they both failed to support Gov. Ernie Fletcher, first when he came under attack from Democrats when he tried to end years of hiring abuses in state government, and then when he ran for re-election in 2007.
In fact, many believe Bunning carried much of McConnell's water during the 2007 gubernatorial election. While McConnell never made any public statements, many believe he was responsible for recruiting former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup to run against Fletcher in the Republican primary. On the other hand, Bunning actively endorsed and supported Northup against Fletcher.
Three years later, Bunning got a taste of his own medicine. When he launched his re-election bid in advance of the 2010 Senate race, McConnell turned against Bunning. He urged his donors not to contribute to Bunning's campaign, and put the weight of his political machine behind Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Grayson, a former Democrat, had won election to statewide office in 2003 by riding the coattails of Fletcher, then won re-election in 2007 against a lightweight Democrat opponent.
We all know how that ended up. Bunning was forced from the race, and his preferred candidate (Rand Paul) toppled McConnell's hand-picked candidate (Grayson), then Paul rolled to victory in the fall.
McConnell never explained why he turned against Bunning. But he certainly made it known that he did not support the incumbent's re-election in 2010.
Why do we bring this up now? Because McConnell has gone from working against an incumbent from his own party in his own state four years ago to working for an incumbent in another state this year.
Mississippi's Thad Cochran lost his primary to challenger Chris McDaniel a few weeks ago, but Mississippi law requires a runoff because McDaniel did not cross a certain percentage threshold. Cochran is an establishment moderate Republican -- the type we and others not so affectionately call RINOs -- and McDaniel is a more conservative Republican who enjoys the support of TEA Party backers. McConnell has gone all-in for Cochran, hosting fund-raisers and trying to put the full weight of his apparatus behind the incumbent.
There were whispered rumors about Bunning's mental abilities in 2010, but the same comments about Cochran are not a whisper, but a roar. News story after news story seves to raise the question about his sharpness. Last week's episode surrounding a weird comment Cochran made about inappropriate acts with farm animals is probably the most bizarre thing we've heard in awhile.
We'd certainly love to know what Bunning thinks about all this, as he watches his former colleague do a 180 from four years ago. And we'd love to hear McConnell explain this, as well.
Perhaps some small-town newspaper editor with a political agenda can ask McConnell about this matter when he shows up for a town hall meeting this summer. Somebody needs to get Mitch on the record about this blatant episode of hypocrisy and betrayal.