On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) cautioned that he and those associated with him are ready to intervene in any Republican Senate primaries to defeat candidates he views as “unelectable.”

McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he, or a group closely linked to him called the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), would be willing to get involved in any primary race.

McConnell replied to Hewitt, “If necessary. There’s no question that in order to win … you have to appeal to the general election audience. I’ll be keeping an eye on that. Hopefully we won’t have to intervene, but if we do, we will.”

Conservatives will no doubt view the comments from the establishment Republican as meaning McConnell will oppose grassroots conservatives or Trump-aligned Republicans.

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Trump Candidates Vs. McConnell Candidates

Mitch McConnell and his allies ready to jump into any GOP primary they think needs guidance sets up an interesting dynamic heading into 2022 for Republicans.

By all accounts, former President Donald Trump is the head of the party, and an endorsement from him will be sought by most candidates seeking office. 

So far, the SLF has endorsed one candidate on the opposite side of Trump: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment, has picked up a primary challenger – though Trump has not yet endorsed in that race.

Will McConnell try to woo candidates with cash? Probably so, but as  Trump’s popularity shows no signs of letting up, PACs that are associated with him are raising record amounts of cash.

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Will McConnell/SLF Candidates Water Down The GOP?

Back in February, McConnell stated that the thing he cared about the most was “electability.” Americans who want to elect Republicans are also concerned with electability, but at what cost? 

Is it possible that, if McConnell and his friends intervene in enough GOP primaries, would Trump supporters smell a rat, and be suspicious of McConnell of watering down the party until it is full of John McCains and Mitt Romneys?

Just more establishment RINOs who will cave to every liberal Democrat demand?

There is also the problem of McConnell intervention into races where the context of background surrounding candidates figures very heavily in the race. In Missouri for example, former Gov. Eric Greitens has thrown his hat in the ring to replace Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). Greitens resigned from the governorship after a sex scandal in 2018.

While Greitens may have name recognition which might give him a lead in the polls due to core support from those who don’t care about the reasons behind his ouster from the Governor’s mansion, and those who just know his name, does not mean he is the most popular with voters with knowledge of his background. 

Would not just Missouri voters, but voters in any state appreciate team McConnell swooping in to take over a primary election?

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The Task Republicans Must Focus On

The main task at hand for Republicans is taking both the House and the Senate back in 2022. Republicans must defend 20 seats, while Democrats must only defend 14.

Four of those seats were won by Democrats in 2020, and the GOP is hoping to flip them red. They are also looking at taking seats from Georgia, Arizona, and New Hampshire.

Jack Pandol, communications director for the SLF says that, “As has long been SLF’s policy, we reserve the right to intervene in cases where a candidate is a clear threat to lose a seat in a general election and to protect our Republican incumbents.”

Intervention by Mitch McConnell and friends could be seen as interfering with the will of the people, and nothing more than a power grab on his part.

Perhaps McConnell and the SLF should find out if the candidate in question is who Mitch McConnell wants or the people want. 

 

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