A former Republican state lawmaker wants to replace U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in next year’s Kentucky race for U.S. Senate.
C. Wesley Morgan, a Richmond liquor store owner, announced on Facebook Tuesday he will run against McConnell in the 2020 GOP primary election.
“We still have a while to go and I won’t be ‘politicking’ much this early, but your prayers and support are appreciated,” said Morgan. He also included information on how to donate to his campaign.
McConnell, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984 and is the longest serving U.S. Senate leader in history, did not seem too concerned about Morgan’s entry into the race.
“It is difficult to take Wesley Morgan as a viable threat in a Republican primary,” said Kevin Golden, McConnell campaign manager, in an email. “He has supported Democrats over Republicans in the past and said he will do it again in 2020. Wesley Morgan’s campaign will end no differently than anyone else who has ever challenged Mitch McConnell.”
Golden referenced news coverage of Morgan’s loss in the 2018 Republican state House primary to Deanna Frazier. In a Facebook post on election night, Morgan announced that he was leaving the Republican Party and supporting the Democratic nominee, Morgan Eaves.
“Tonight the GOP lost a true conservative and patriot. I will no longer be associated with the Republican Party,” Morgan wrote.
The next day, Morgan said he had changed his mind. Frazier replaced Morgan in the House after he had served one two-year term.
In an interview Wednesday, Morgan said he never voted for Eaves. “I’m so anti-Democrat,” he said, calling himself a “100 percent Trump supporter, a conservative Republican.
Morgan said he realizes “it will be tough” to run against McConnell because “he is an expert in character assassination.”
“Look at 2014 when Matt Bevin ran against him. McConnell called him a liar, a carpetbagger, a cockfight lover, everything in the book,” Morgan said. “After he beat him and [Bevin] couldn’t hurt him any more and became governor, McConnell started treating him nice.”
Morgan, who said he has been thinking about running against McConnell for years, said he knows McConnell will attack him. “That’s the way he operates.”
“I’m 69,” said Morgan. “If he wants to come after an old man like me, I will go after an old man like him.” McConnell is 77.
Morgan also said he is aware of McConnell’s huge campaign war chest. McConnell raised more than $2 million in the first three months of this year and had about $5.6 million on hand for his re-election campaign.
Morgan said he has let the Federal Election Commission know he is raising money for his campaign but cannot officially file to run until after the November general election.
Morgan appeared Tuesday night on “Hey Kentucky,” a talk show on WLEX-TV, to talk about his campaign.
Morgan said he has voted for McConnell in all his U.S. Senate races except 2014, when he sided with Bevin.
But he said McConnell has shown that he stands only for himself.
Morgan is the only person so far who has challenged McConnell next year. Two Democrats — ‘Hey Kentucky’ host Matt Jones and Amy McGrath, who lost a bid for U.S. Congress last year against U.S. Rep. Andy Barr — have said they are considering the race.