Politics & Government

Mitch McConnell says Matt Bevin is ‘off to a great start’

Gov. Matt Bevin
Gov. Matt Bevin Herald-Leader

Despite their contentious history, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the job that one-time rival Gov. Matt Bevin has done since taking office Dec. 8.

McConnell, who whipped Bevin during the 2014 Republican Senate primary only to watch as Bevin won the governor’s office this year, told the Herald-Leader Wednesday that the former thorn in his side is “off to a great start on a number of fronts.”

“It’s pretty exciting to see change coming to Frankfort, and I think it’s having a serious effect on the Democratic leadership,” the senator said.

McConnell was complimentary of the hires and appointments Bevin has made so far, calling them “impressive,” and said he believes that Republicans are closing in on a majority in the state House.

With Democrats taking positions in the Bevin administration or changing parties, Republicans are increasingly hopeful that they can end the Democratic majority of the lower chamber for the first time since 1921.

“I’m hopeful and optimistic that change will come,” McConnell said. “Maybe it will come before the election, and if not, then next November.”

The majority leader has made flipping the house a top priority since winning his re-election campaign in 2014, and over the U.S. Senate’s August recess, he met with 10 Republican candidates.

McConnell said he has met with more since then, and he praised the work of state Rep. Jonathan Shell, who is heading a Republican House campaign organization similar to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Until the majority changes hands, McConnell said, Republicans’ biggest goals and Bevin’s agenda, including charter schools, right-to-work and prevailing wage legislation, “will not be achieved.”

“I think change is a-coming,” the senator said.

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