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Republican McConnell gets another election foe, from Tea Party

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears before reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jonath
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears before reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jonath

By Tim Ghianni

(Reuters) - Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, already facing a stiff challenge from a Democrat in the 2014 Kentucky U.S. Senate election, on Wednesday found himself facing another foe supported by the conservative Tea Party movement.

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin announced his candidacy for McConnell's Senate seat, saying, "Clearly our current leaders have failed us.

"After 30 years in Washington, Mitch McConnell no longer represents what we believe here in Kentucky. He has lost touch with our state, with our people and with our values," Bevin said at a press conference in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Bevin is supported by some elements of the Tea Party, which wants to cut substantially the size of the U.S. government. Bevin is an investment adviser with Louisville-based hedge fund Waycross Partners.

Bevin's announcement means McConnell will have to spend money to put down a challenge from the political right in the May, 2014 Republican primary before facing Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election in November.

McConnell, 71, has a reputation for tough political tactics, and even before Bevin announced, he released a blistering advertisement saying Bevin's businesses in Connecticut had repeatedly failed to pay taxes and received government bailouts.

McConnell is one of the few Republican U.S. Senators facing a stiff challenge in 2014. If Republicans gain six seats in the election, McConnell could be U.S. Senate majority leader rather than leading the minority.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by Greg McCune and Dan Grebler)

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