McConnell Campaign Manager: I’m Holding My Nose Working For Him
Jesse Benton, the campaign manager for Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election campaign, isn’t entirely thrilled with his boss:
The campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted Thursday that he remains “100 percent” committed to his boss’ re-election effort after a recording surfaced suggesting otherwise.
Snagging Jesse Benton, a former acolyte of both Ron and Rand Paul, has long been seen as one of the biggest assets for McConnell in his re-election bid, as he seeks to mend fences with conservative voters in the state.
But Benton, now McConnell’s campaign manager for his 2014 re-election bid, sounded less than thrilled by the pairing, according to a recording published by EconomicPolicyJournal.com. Instead, he said he saw helping the Kentucky Republican as a way to boost his former boss’ 2016 presidential hopes.
“Between you and me, I’m kind of holding my nose for two years, because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in ’16. So, that’s my long vision,” Benton says in the Jan. 9, 2013 call with Dennis Fusaro, a onetime Paul aide. Fusaro says he recorded the call.
It’s worth noting that Benton’s career has been closely aligned with the Paul family for years. He was involved with Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 campaign, ran Rand Paul’s 2010 campaign for the Senate, and is married to one of Ron Paul’s granddaughters. When it comes to loyalty, there’s no real question that Benton’s loyalty lies firmly with the Paul family. That’s why it it was so odd when, last year, he ended up being named as the manager of Senator McConnell’s re-election campaign. For the most part, it was a sign of the detente that McConnell and Rand Paul had worked out between themselves. A large part of that agreement seems to be that Paul would do what he could to prevent a massive Tea Party push against McConnell in 2014 and that McConnell would ensure that the Kentucky GOP establishment didn’t try to push Paul to the side if/when he runs for re-election in 2016. Benton going to work for McConnell was obviously part of that bargain.
Given all of this, it’s not at all surprising that Benton’s primary loyalty remains with the Pauls and not with McConnnell.Whether that means his time on the campaign is about to come to an end is something only time will tell, but given the fact that McConnell still needs to keep up a good relationship with the Tea Party, I’m guessing that he’ll stay.