Kentucky governor accidentally makes the case for McConnell to step down

Gov. Matt Bevin said last week he supports term limits at any level. In February, he backed the Senate majority leader for a seventh term.

Though Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) favors term limits, he is backing Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fora seventh 6-year senate term.
Though Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) favors term limits, he is backing Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fora seventh 6-year senate term. (Photo credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R), who earlier this year endorsed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a seventh six-year term, recently took to the airwaves to — unintentionally — make a compelling case for why the Senate majority leader should in fact step down.

Bevin, who ran against McConnell in 2014 arguing that “[c]areer politician Mitch McConnell can’t defend his big government, big spending record,” has been a proponent of term limits for years.

In a radio interview last week on WKCT’s The Morning Show — first spotted by American Bridge 21st Century, a progressive research organization — Bevin argued that remaining in public office for too long led officials to become inefficient at their jobs.

“Sometimes, the longer you stay in something — disconnected from another something — the less you understand it, the less you’re able to interface with it, the less you’re able to effectively help it,” Bevin observed.


“And I’m a big believer in term limits — I just am — at any level,” he continued. “I think it’s important for us to be citizen-legislators as our founders intended, for us to serve for finite periods of time.”

He added, “Is it to say that someone can’t serve a long time and do a good job? Of course not. But I think there’s something to be said for fresh turnover of ideas, of energy, of commitment. A sense of urgency that comes by not being worrying about just getting re-elected, but being worried about getting things done. I think it’s healthy, I think it’s good for America when we see that.”

A strong belief in the importance of term limits, however, has not stopped Bevin from endorsing long-serving incumbents like McConnell, who is running for re-election in 2020.

Asked in February if he would support McConnell — who was first elected in 1984 — for re-election, Bevin responded, “Oh yes! The only time I did not vote for him is when I ran against him in a primary.”

Bevin praised the Senate majority leader as “pragmatic and masterful and calculated.”

Bevin’s caveat last week — that it’s not impossible for someone to serve several terms and do a good job — suggest he may be as sincerely committed to McConnell as he has previously indicated. But with an approval rating lower than any other governor in the nation in a recent poll, Bevin also needs all the help he can get.


Bevin is seeking a second term as governor in this November’s elections. In March, McConnell lent his support to Bevin as well. “I’m not great at math, but I know that ’19 comes before ’20… and job one in 2019 is to re-elect Governor Matt Bevin to a second term,” he said at the time.