Book Chronicling McConnell Out Today

Posted June 12, 2009 at 6:07pm

The seemingly insightful political autobiography is considered a hallmark of a high-ranking Member’s career.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a former Golden Gloves boxer, wrote “The Good Fight— last year, and he caused an additional stir when he published a new epilogue following the 2008 elections.

After becoming the first female Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) provided a glance into her life as a Congressman’s daughter and her eventual climb up the leadership ladder in “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters,— released in 2008.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who keeps a somewhat low profile for a top leader and often shuns the spotlight, has avoided adding the title of author to his résumé. In a typically understated move, McConnell instead agreed to several interviews that are included in the newly released unauthorized biography “Republican Leader: A Political Biography of Senator Mitch McConnell.—

The 261-page book, which hits shelves today, was written by conservative Louisville Courier-Journal contributing writer John David Dyche. In an interview, Dyche said the book explains how McConnell “has risen to a level that’s rare in Kentucky history.—

“He’s quite successfully built a Republican organization in the state, so I wanted to take a look at how he managed to make Kentucky a bona fide two-party state for the first time in history,— Dyche explained.

Dyche had at least “a dozen— interviews with McConnell, but the always-calculating Minority Leader was careful with his access. Dyche wasn’t granted permission to view McConnell’s college thesis on Kentucky statesman Henry Clay, and the book focuses more on McConnell’s political career than his personal life.

“From a very young age he was always heavily involved in school politics, from elementary to junior high and high school, college and law school,— Dyche said.

McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984 by beating incumbent Sen. Walter Dee Huddleston (D) by about 5,200 votes.

Since that time, McConnell has been widely credited with being the architect of modern Republican politics in the Bluegrass State, and his network and influence within the party there is legendary.

Last year, McConnell beat back formidable opposition to win a fifth Senate term.

“Even though he’s a soft-spoken person and not a political glad-hander like the typical Kentucky politician would be, he’s used his talents to get what he needs,— Dyche noted.

McConnell was “instrumental and indeed essential— in getting Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) elected in 1998, Dyche said. The author did not interview Bunning, whose erratic public outbursts have threatened his re-election chances in 2010. McConnell’s relationship with Bunning has become strained since the beginning of the year as the Minority Leader has made it clear that he wants Bunning to step aside in order to boost the GOP’s chances of holding the seat. Bunning has, in turn, taken to publicly lobbing shots at McConnell and his leadership of the party.

“He’s a careful planner, someone who likes to see things out in the future,— Dyche said. “He can be very calculating. I don’t use that word in a disparaging sense. He’s just good at collecting the facts and the trends and making a decision and carrying it out with great discipline.—