As if his tough general election contest against Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) is not enough, Senator Mitch McConnell (R,Ky) must now deal with the resignation of his campaign manager, Jesse Benton, amidst allegations stemming from his involvement in the 2012 Iowa caucuses, according to Politico.com on Friday. Benton’s resignation comes in the wake of a guilty plea by an Iowa state lawmaker to accepting a bribe to change his 2012 endorsement from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul.
Although Benton has been mentioned in documents concerning the case against the Iowa lawmaker, he has not been named as a suspect in the case. Benton stated that he resigned because the allegations, though false, distract from McConnell’s Senate re-election campaign and could be hurtful to it.
At one point, Benton had stated that he was “holding” his nose upon signing onto McConnell’s campaign. His involvement in the campaign was seen as a strategic maneuver to shore up the right wing flank of the Republican Party and to tie allegiances with Congressman Ron Paul (R,Tx) and his fellow Tea Party enthusiasts.
Benton’s troubles were seen as potentially divisive enough to turn the election in favor of McConnell’s formidable and well-financed opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes. If McConnell is victorious in his re-election bid, he most likely will become the Senate Majority Leader. His biggest challenge in that role will be shoring up his differences with the more conservative wing of the Republican Party, whose members have been questioning McConnell’s conservative credentials for quite some time.