FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — GOP Senate candidate Matt Bevin rolled his "New Generation of Leadership Bus Tour" up to Kentucky's state Capitol Friday to rally voters in his longshot bid to oust the most established of Washington bigwigs in Tuesday's primary. But there were no voters to rally against Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, or Washington, for that matter. Or even the status quo.
A bunch of kids too young to vote passed by on a tour of the state Capitol. Bevin introduced himself. "Tell me who your U.S. senators are," Bevin said. "Right now one of them is running for re-election. Who is that? Mitch McConnell. And someone is running against him. Now, who do you think we should vote for?"
"Somebody!" came the answer, from a kid named Alex. Bevin is poised for a deflating loss to the five-term Senate leader Tuesday, underscoring the steep fall of a tea party-fueled movement dedicated to upending Washington. Four years ago, it was powerful enough to topple Democrats from the House majority and push McConnell to curtail support for sending taxpayer dollars to home-state projects.
McConnell has already begun attacking Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, as both parties battle for control of the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections. Republicans need to gain six seats to grab the majority of the 100-member chamber.
Bevin, who's been tarnished by speaking at a rally to legalize cockfighting, insisted he will defeat McConnell Tuesday despite recent polls that show him trailing the Senate veteran by 32 percentage points.
"That's the nature of running against an incumbent. We never expected anything different," Bevin told reporters. "We are literally and figuratively keeping our foot on the gas for these last several days."
With Kentucky Democrats unified behind Grimes, the state Republican Party asked McConnell and Bevin to sign a pledge saying they would support whoever wins Tuesday's Republican primary. McConnell signed the pledge; Bevin has not. Democrats say that's a sign of a divided Republican electorate and bodes well for Grimes in November.
Friday, Bevin said McConnell would lose to Grimes. But he said he would not support Grimes in the general election. "I have never supported a Democrat in my life over a Republican. I see no chance of that starting any time in the foreseeable future, including this race," Bevin said.