What Mitch McConnell Heard at the 2022 Senate Races | CNN Politics

What Mitch McConnell Heard at the 2022 Senate Races | CNN Politics


In August, Mitch McConnell said a tough truth.

“I think the House is more likely to overturn than the Senate,” the Senate minority leader said at the time. The Senate races are just different. They are at the state level. The quality of the filter has a lot to do with the outcome.”

His comments caused panic within Donald Trump’s wing of the Republican Party, as the former president endorsed several of the party’s candidates. But after Tuesday’s election, there’s no doubt McConnell was right — the weakness of several Republican Senate candidates has jeopardized the party’s chances of winning a majority.

It’s worth noting before I go any further that there is still a big way for Republicans to win a majority in the Senate. They need to win two of three races: Arizona, Georgia and Nevada. As of Thursday, the Republican candidate is leading in Nevada and trailing in Arizona. The Georgia competition heads into the runoff on December 6.

But, there is absolutely no doubt that the quality of the candidate has had a profound effect on the narrowness of this path for Republicans. I advise:

* Arizona: Blake Masters who had a long record of controversial statements ended up winning the Republican nomination thanks to Trump’s endorsement. Masters was an uneasy general election candidate who struggled to convince nationalist Republicans that his campaign was worth the financial investment. The McConnell-allied Senate Super Leadership Fund dropped out of the race in the final stage. Stephen Miller, a former Trump aide, contested that decision in a tweet Thursday. If Mitch had spent in Arizona – instead of manipulating Blake and transferring money in Alaska to defeat reality,[o] GOP Nominee – Blake would have already won easily,” Miller Books. “This was a deliberate choice.”

* Georgia: Republican Herschel Walker heads into the run-off with Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock after neither candidate received 50% of the vote. Last year, CNN reported that McConnell privately expressed concerns about Walker’s candidacy and suggested that former Senators David Purdue or Kelly Loeffler consider running. But with the full weight of Trump’s support behind him, Walker took off for the Republican nomination. In the general election, the former soccer star faced allegations that he pressured the women he was involved with to have abortions. Meanwhile, Republican Governor Brian Kemp won re-election directly on Election Day.

* New Hampshire: The Institutional Republicans supported Chuck Morse in his primary campaign against again, again election deniers Don Bolduc. Bolduc did not win Trump’s endorsement until the general election campaign, although he did win the primaries with the support of the former president’s base. But he never showed that he could attract voters outside that base, losing to Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan, who was seen as weak at the start of the session. GOP Governor Chris Sununu – who, like Kemp – angered Trump – went on to easily win another term.

* North Carolina: Trump shocked the political world in 2021 when he threw his endorsement behind little-known Representative Ted Budd in the crowded Republican primary race to replace retiring Senator Richard Burr. Budd won the race over former state Supreme Court Justice Sherry Beasley, but outside groups spent huge sums to get him to the finish line.

* Ohio: As in North Carolina, this was a state to which Republicans hoped they would not have to allocate significant financial resources. But JD Vance, who was endorsed by Trump, showed little willingness to pursue the campaign trail after winning the primaries. The super PAC team allied with McConnell ended up spending tens of millions of dollars just to keep this race in the hands of the Republican Party. Vance defeated Democrat Tim Ryan, who ran a stronger-than-expected campaign in the red-leaded state. But if Vance had been a stronger candidate and raised more money for his campaign, the outer group’s money could have been spent elsewhere to expand the Senate’s playing field.

* Pennsylvania: Trump-backed Mehmet Oz narrowly won the Republican nomination in a disputed primary. But Oz struggled to rally the GOP base behind him after the divisive primaries, and he never seemed to gain a foothold in the attacks that he was a New Jersey rugby. Oz eventually lost to Democrat John Fetterman.

Taken together, there is little doubt that McConnell’s criticism of “candidate quality” was correct in hindsight. In race after race, the Republicans have performed below expectations — forcing the National Party and its outside groups to the rescue. The party won some of these races, but that came at the cost of increased investment in other states.

In short: Mitch McConnell was right.

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