FRANKFORT - Republican Matt Bevin released radio ads Thursday depicting Sen. Mitch McConnell as an out-of-touch Washington insider and characterizing their race as a fight for "the heart and soul" of the political process.
Bevin tries to capitalize on his outsider status with the two statewide ads, his first of the new year. His campaign called it a "substantial" ad buy but didn't provide specifics.
The Louisville businessman is mounting a long-shot bid to unseat McConnell - the five-term Republican Senate leader - in the May 20 primary in Kentucky.
The Democratic front-runner in the race is Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
One ad pokes at McConnell's longevity, noting the Cosby Show was new, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" topped the charts and Cabbage Patch Kids were hot toys when McConnell was first elected to the Senate.
"A lot has changed since then, including Mitch McConnell," the ad says. "A career, Washington politician, he's lost touch with Kentucky."
Bevin reinforces his conservative views in the ad, stating his opposition to abortion, support for gun-ownership rights and vowing to never support funding for President Barack Obama's health care law.
McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said Bevin came out with the "lame attacks" just a day after the challenger denounced negative-style campaigning.
"Kentuckians can't believe a word that comes out of this guy's mouth," she said.
The other ad lays out what Bevin sees as the stakes in his upstart challenge to McConnell.
"This is a battle for the heart and soul of the entire political process," Bevin says in the ad. "Will we continue to have a government of, and by and for the people? Or will we be instead a government of, and by and for a handful of career politicians and their Washington cronies?"
The radio ads come a day after the McConnell campaign debuted two new TV ads that feature a throat cancer survivor who praises the senator for supporting sick workers at a uranium enrichment plant in western Kentucky. The ad buy, amounting to six figures, was the largest of the campaign so far by McConnell.
This year's Senate race is widely expected to be Kentucky's most expensive campaign ever.