One of the most closely watched Senate primaries of 2014 may be decided on perhaps the most obscure possible issue: cockfighting.
The Tea Party challenge of businessman Matt Bevin against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky's GOP primary has been one of the more vicious and cuthroat campaigns so far this year. While McConnell has always maintained a healthy lead over Bevin, who is backed by conservative talk shows and outside groups like FreedomWorks and the Senate Conservatives Fund, he's never been able to put his pesky opponent away, at least until Thursday evening.
Then, a Louisville television station found footage of Bevin speaking at a pro-cockfighting rally in late March. Previously, while Bevin acknowledged appearing at the event, he had claimed he was unaware that its purpose was to legalize the blood sport, which involves two roosters fighting to the death in a ring. Instead, the conservative candidate insisted he was the first speaker there and quickly left. The video shows otherwise.
At the event, Bevin was introduced by American Gamefowl Defense Director Dave Devereaux, who said the rally was "for the sole purpose of legalizing gamecock fighting at the state level." He then yielded the floor to Bevin, who insisted that the issue was one that the federal government shouldn't be involved in, saying "criminalizing behavior, if it's part of the heritage of this state, is in my opinion a bad idea. A bad idea. I will not support it."
The McConnell campaign showed no mercy, ripping Bevin by saying "20 years from now, we will all remember the time when the East Coast con-man thought so little of Kentuckians that he pathologically lied to us about absolutely everything until an undercover camera caught him red-handed at a cockfighting rally" in a statement from spokeswoman Allison Moore. In response, Bevin's campaign dismissed the report as "a rehash of an old story."
The Kentucky GOP primary is on May 20th and the winner will face presumptive Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes in what is considered one of the most competitive Senate races of the cycle.