Monday, June 9, 2014
Matt Bevin Does the Right Thing
At Saturday night's Lincoln Day dinner for the Kentucky Republican Party, the highlight was the surprise appearance of Matt Bevin.
Sen. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had taken to the podium. He reminisced about how not that many years back, it was hard to recruit Republicans to run for office, given the Democrats' commanding lead in voter registration. Now, that gap has closed significantly. As a consequence, McConnell said, candidates value the Republican nomination. The inevitable result is more Republican primaries. Reflecting upon his recent primary, McConnell said that there was someone he needed to thank for making him a better candidate for the general election: Matt Bevin.
At that point, McConnell gestured to the left corner of the ballroom and Matt Bevin stood up. A surprised and delighted audience immediately gave Bevin a standing ovation.
It was a show of unity that few expected in light of the tone of Bevin's concessions speech. Concession speeches, however, are given in the raw moments when the reality of the loss is just beginning to sink in. Two and half weeks later, Bevin demonstrated true graciousness. But Bevin's presence was more than good sportsmanship. His campaign argued for conservative policy solutions and by showing up at the state party dinner -- the bastion of Establishment Republicans - he put the focus on the need to elect the most conservative candidate. After the primary, that is McConnell. (Indeed, I would argue that McConnell was the most conservative candidate before the primary, but that is now beside the point).
I never believed that many of the Bevin supporters would stay home come the general election. The Bevin supporters I know are committed conservatives, deeply patriotic Kentuckians who recognize that men and women put their lives on the line to defend our freedom. The most precious exercise of that freedom is when we vote. To stay home out of bitterness about a primary loss is unworthy of the right to vote.
Unlike the Rand Paul - Trey Grayson primary, there was no "unity rally" after the primary this year. That was a source of disappointment and consternation to many Republicans. Then Matt Bevin showed up and demonstrated unity when we least expected it, and for that he deserves our respect and gratitude.