Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky picked up the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today in an event at the Lexington location of Whayne Supply, the heavy equipment dealer whose customers include the coal mining industry.
Senate Minority Leader McConnell, 72, has held his current office since 1985 and faces tea party opponent Matt Bevin in the May 20 primary to select the Republican nominee in the Nov. 4 general election.
He did not mention Bevin during the endorsement event before a preselected audience of 40 or 50 supporters, focusing rather on the policies of President Barack Obama, which he said hurt business. McConnell looked past Bevins to the expected Democratic nominee in the Senate race, Secretary of State Allison Lundergen Grimes, describing her as someone who would support the positions of Obama and present Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.
McConnell was introduced by Whayne Supply CEO Monty Boyd and a representative of the U.S. Chamber as a leader of the fight against federal healthcare reform, burdensome business regulation and environmental policies that have cost several thousand Eastern Kentucky coal mining jobs.
“I will lead in a different direction,” McConnell said. “Make me the Majority Leader.”
Boyd spoke against the proposed increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from its present $7.25 saying that business would either have to raise prices, which would contribute to inflation, or cut costs, which would mean eliminating jobs.
Polls made public in the past month suggest an even race at this point between McConnell, who is seeking a sixth term, and Grimes, 35, who was elected to statewide office in 2012. It is perhaps the most closely watched Senate race in the nation this year.