FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, facing re-election next year, has forged a mutually beneficial alliance with tea party darling Rand Paul.
McConnell needs Paul's tea party influence to keep potential primary challengers at bay and to energize his general election campaign against the likely Democratic nominee, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Paul, who has presidential aspirations and is looking to run in 2016, needs McConnell's connections to the wealthy donor base of the Republican establishment.
In Kentucky, Paul and his tea party supporters have proven particularly powerful. By forging the alliance, McConnell has virtually ensured that no would-be challenger can get the kind of infusion of cash from tea party channels that allowed Paul to win here in 2010.