Politics

McConnell hounded by protesters

Photo of Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

Republican Kentucky Senator Mitch McConell was greeted by protesters outside of his speech in Frankfort Tuesday, marking another in a long series of anti-McConnell efforts that organizers claim will persist throughout his 2014 re-election campaign.

Despite the frigid temperature, roughly 50 protesters affiliated with the liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky gathered outside the Capitol Plaza Hotel Tuesday afternoon as McConnell delivered a speech to the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce.

“This protest focuses on the legislation McConnell blocked that affects veterans. He voted for the Iraq War and against the Veteran Jobs Act and the GI amendment,” Progress Kentucky executive director Shawn Reilly told The Daily Caller. Reilly, who also criticizes McConnell on an array of other issues, said that a handful of veterans were among the protesters, and confirmed that his group’s protesters also include some union members.

“Veterans issues are something not a lot of people are talking about right now. But the sequester is happening and they see McConnell giving earmarks to defense contractors,” Reilly said. “People are angry about that.”

But despite Reilly’s stated theme, the protesters’ causes for demonstrating against McConnell were diverse, with protesters chanting “Hands off our Medicare” and “Millionaire Mitch, shill for the rich” and held signs reading “People Before Profits,” among other slogans.

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The Daily Caller reported last month that Progress Kentucky was reaching out to Tea Party groups in an attempt to both shore up across-the-aisle grassroots opposition to McConnell and to help field a Republican primary challenger for the 71-year old five-term senator, with businessman Matt Bevin being touted as a Tea Party prospect in the race.

However, at least one major Tea Party leader in the state told TheDC that her supporters would be skeptical of any kind of partnership with Progress Kentucky.

A recent Progress Kentucky tweet highlighting the ethnicity of McConnell’s Taiwan-born wife, former labor secretary Elaine Chao, allowed the Republican’s campaign to accuse Progress Kentucky of “race-baiting.” Progress Kentucky later apologized for the tweet.