This sort of announcement came a bit earlier than most people probably expected, but it nonetheless confirms the political alliance between the Tea Party firebrand and the Senate Minority Leader is as strong as ever (via Ed Morrissey):
The Daily Caller has learned that Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is endorsing Sen. Mitch McConnell for re-election in 2014, ending speculation that Paul would back a tea party challenge to the Senate minority leader.
“Rand Paul has endorsed McConnell,” Jesse Benton, McConnell’s 2014 campaign manager, told The Daily Caller.
Benton, who has worked for both Rand Paul and his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, is credited by insiders with brokering Paul’s support for McConnell.
As noted above, Senator McConnell hired Senator Paul’s 2010 general election campaign manager to run his own bid for re-election. And that decision, in and of itself, is probably the best way to reduce the chances the vulnerable Republican faces a primary run-off next year. The Tea Party and grassroots activists are no doubt disappointed with some of the Minority Leader’s “compromises,” but with their coalition obviously divided -- and Paul’s ringing endorsement -- I suspect a primary challenge is less likely to happen, let alone be successful.
In related news, Ashley Judd announced on Twitter yesterday that she will not challenge McConnell for his Senate seat in 2014. What a shame. Her outrageous and indefensible statements are perhaps just one reason why the Democratic Party leadership (probably) either gently nudged her out -- or made her get out. In either case, McConnell is reportedly the “top target for Democrats” in 2014, and if he does face a primary challenge next year, he’ll need all the help he can get to keep his seat.
Good thing Senator Paul is stepping up to the plate. He’ll be a very useful ally as the campaign gets underway.