Months removed from a Republican Senate primary loss to Mitch McConnell, the fiery tea-party candidate launched another statewide race Tuesday, this time for Kentucky governor.
Bevin's unexpected and late entry—he officially joined the race less than two hours before the state's 4 p.m. deadline—is a boon for the party's most conservative elements, as it will boost their voice in a crowded campaign. But for the party as a whole, it complicates an already difficult task: preventing the competitive primary from crippling its candidate before the general election begins.
With Bevin, Republicans now have a four-way race. State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is the perceived front-runner, but he was already competing against wealthy Louisville businessman Hal Heiner and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will Scott. And with Bevin, the GOP adds a candidate with a combative history—particularly in his nasty race against McConnell last year.
And if the party is unable to prevent its primary season from becoming an all-out brawl, it risks losing the governor's mansion yet again: Republicans have long sought the Kentucky governorship—and thought they had opportunities to take it in recent races—but the state hasn't had a Republican governor since Ernie Fletcher was ousted after one term in 2007. And over the past 50 years, Republicans have held the state's top spot for only eight.
"They'll beat each other up. Even if they're all good candidates, we'll have four months having a family feud, or at least a family discussion, and that's going to put [Democrats] in a good position," said Trey Grayson, Rand Paul's 2010 Senate primary opponent.
You can read more about Bevin's brutally ugly primary fight against Mitch the Turtle, his "cock-up" of a fall over cockfighting in the Bluegrass State, and a not-so-gentle reminder that Bevin didn't exactly hurt Mitch too much.
Having said that, cone of the other Republicans running for governor here are anywhere near as politically savvy as Mitch, so Bevin might turn out to be real trouble for them.
Which is good for Jack Conway and the Democrats. We'll see.