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Bunning Tees Off on McConnell, Again

Updated: 1:27 p.m.If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for Sen. Jim Bunning (R) to tee off on fellow Kentucky Republican and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.After calling McConnell a “control freak— Tuesday morning, Bunning claimed that he would be better served if McConnell didn’t back him for a third term in 2010.“If Mitch McConnell doesn’t endorse me, it could be the best thing that ever happened to me in Kentucky,— Bunning said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.In a Sunday show interview over the weekend, McConnell refused to endorse Bunning for re-election, saying, “It’s just not clear who the players are going to be yet.—Bunning’s weekly conference calls with Kentucky press have provided an ongoing glimpse into just how much the relationship between the two Kentucky Senators has deteriorated as Bunning fights for re-election without McConnell’s help.On Tuesday, Bunning again blamed McConnell for Republican losses in the Senate during the past two election cycles. He said he and McConnell have been at odds since December, when Bunning said McConnell told him he was “too old— to run for re-election, the Courier-Journal reported.At that point, John Stamper, the government editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader, asked Bunning if he would be willing to release his medical records to demonstrate that he isn’t too old to run again. Bunning responded that such a request constituted age discrimination, but in an effort to prove his vitality he appeared to challenge Stamper to a feat of strength.“How big are you?— Bunning asked Stamper. The Kentucky scribe responded that he had no intention of arm wrestling the Senator.McConnell’s office had no comment Tuesday on Bunning’s conference call.Bunning will be 79 on Election Day 2010. McConnell was an active supporter of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who then will be 80, until Specter switched parties to run for re-election as a Democrat.Many Republican insiders consider Bunning to be a political dead man walking, and the junior Senator from Kentucky hasn’t tamped down that talk with his lackluster fundraising numbers. Many are hoping Bunning will step aside before 2010 and give Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) a chance to hold the seat. Bunning has said he would only consider retirement if he doesn’t meet his second-quarter fundraising goals.

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