McConnell loses Tea Party group's backing

A Tea Party group has dropped its endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), citing criticism he reportedly made of conservative groups that has put him in their crosshairs for 2014. 

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Tea Party Nation (TPN) had previously defended its endorsement of McConnell, despite the fact that the senator has a conservative primary challenger, Matt Bevin, who is supported by local Tea Party groups.

In dropping its endorsement, TPN cited a report from conservative commentator Glenn Beck that McConnell suggested during a closed-door meeting of GOP senators that anyone who supports FreedomWorks or the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) is a traitor to the party.

The SCF has run multiple ads against McConnell, and has made clear it's looking for a conservative alternative to the senator.

TPN founder Judson Phillips explains that the endorsement of the group was initially based upon the fact it members felt McConnell was the most electable conservative in Kentucky. 

Phillips adds, however, that McConnell "always talks about fighting but never gets in the ring."

"While endorsing Mitch McConnell seemed like the right thing to do at the time, Mitch McConnell has proven he is not worthy of conservative support. Glenn Beck is right. It is time to defund the GOP until the GOP pushes people like Mitch McConnell out of leadership," Phillips wrote in a post on the group's website.

McConnell has clashed with conservatives in recent weeks over the strategy, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other Tea Party-backed senators, to defund ObamaCare that ultimately led to the government shutdown. McConnell initially criticized Cruz for a long speech Cruz gave to delay consideration of a bill that defunds the healthcare law, but has since largely laid low as the shutdown drags into its second week.

"While Ted Cruz was fighting, Mitch McConnell was stabbing him in the back," Phillips writes.

The group looks unlikely to endorse McConnell's primary opponent at this point, however, as Phillips closes by declaring that "Regrettably there are no good choices in Kentucky in this election."