Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has attracted a formidable challenger if he decides to run for re-election in 2020: popular sports radio host Matt Jones.
According to a profile in Politico Magazine, Jones, “an outspoken champion of worker’s rights, a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-wrestling NASCAR enthusiast,” has high name recognition in the state. He has traded barbs with McConnell on his radio show, not just on his basketball allegiances, but his political stances. He’s known for calling out McConnell as “a master at helping wealthy business interests get wealthier,” a liar, and a tool of the establishment.
Jones’ criticisms of McConnell will likely resonate with Kentuckians.
Polls show even Republicans hate McConnell. One survey conducted last August found Republicans disapprove of him 40 to 32. Among Kentucky voters, his approval rating is just 18 percent — the worst of any senator in the country.
Part of the issue is that, while McConnell is excellent at blocking Democrats from enacting their agenda, he is massively incompetent at enacting any agenda of his own. He faces rage from Democrats for stealing a Supreme Court seat and blocking campaign finance laws on one side, and rage from Republicans for his inability to repeal Obamacare on the other. So he has no friends in any corner.
Another issue is that Kentucky voters pride themselves on electing outsiders. Trump was served well there by his empty promises to “drain the swamp.” By contrast, McConnell is damaged by the reality, obvious to Democrats and Republicans alike, that he is the swamp.
The bottom line is that, for all his power and wealth, McConnell could end up being one of the most vulnerable senators when his seat rolls around in two years. Jones’ threat to jump into the race is proof of the forces mobilizing against him. And it is a matter of time until he feels the heat.