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Right flank targets McConnell

The Senate Conservatives Fund is launching its first TV ad against McConnell since it endorsed the Kentucky Republican's challenger earlier this month.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

The Senate Conservatives Fund is launching its first TV ad against McConnell since it endorsed the Kentucky Republican's challenger earlier this month.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting hit from both sides in the aftermath of the government shutdown -- and the latest volley comes from conservatives in the Kentucky contest.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, which endorsed McConnell’s GOP challenger, Matt Bevin, earlier this month, is launching its first TV ad since officially wading into the race, charging that “McConnell helped Barack Obama and Harry Reid fund Obamacare.”

“Conservatives asked Mitch McConnell to lead the fight against Obamacare. He didn't listen,” the ad says. “Now Kentucky families are paying the price.  Premiums up, lost coverage, even lost jobs. When Kentucky needed Mitch McConnell the most, he let us down. Now he’s asking us to give him six more years in Washington?”

The $330,000 ad buy from the group’s super PAC arm, Senate Conservatives Action, will run statewide on broadcast and cable stations from Oct. 30 through Nov. 12. It’s the second ad against McConnell from SCF, founded by now-Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint. Before the shutdown, they had launched another TV ad urging McConnell not to back down from defunding Obamacare.

McConnell was one of the key brokers working to resolve the 16-day stalemate, but for both sides it wasn’t enough. Conservatives, led by SCF, wanted McConnell to stand strong with Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to work to defund the Affordable Care Act as a condition of funding the government and raising the debt ceiling. Shortly after, SCF endorsed Bevin, running far behind McConnell in money and polling -- a shocking move for a group to take on such a top party leader.

"Mitch McConnell says he opposes Obamacare when he's in Kentucky, but then he helps the Democrats fund Obamacare when he's in Washington," said SCA Executive Director Matt Hoskins. "Mitch McConnell has lost his way. It's why more and more Kentucky Republicans are supporting Matt Bevin, a true conservative who will fight for their values."

McConnell's campaign shot back at the new ad, saying SCF's efforts in going after Republican incumbents were only hurting GOP chances at taking back the Senate. 

"When Mitch McConnell was rallying conservatives to fight Obamacare the fundraising group responsible for these ads was working day and night to ensure Barack Obama's majority in the Senate," said McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore.  "You get an idea of what team the Senate Conservatives Fund is on when you realize that there are scores of Democrats who actually voted for Obamacare up for re-election and this group, purporting to support conservative causes, is investing their well-intentioned donors money into attacking the man responsible for leading the opposition to the law."  

But it’s not just Bevin and his new conservative allies who are criticizing McConnell on the deal he helped broker -- though SCF is the first campaign to take to the airwaves.

The Kentucky Republican faces an even tougher race in the general election against Secretary of State Alison Lundergran Grimes, and the Democrat released her own web video. “Mitch McConnell can’t light the house on fire, then claim credit for putting it out, especially while it’s still burning,” her ad says, as a house is engulfed in flames on screen.

Bevin, too, again piled on, with his own web video of Demorats praising McConnell’s work to solve the shutdown stalemate.

McConnell released his own two-minute glossy web ad today, proclaiming that “while everyone else was talking, one man from Kentucky was leading” while featuring praise from commentators and lawmakers for his work on the deal.