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McConnell Says ‘Unacceptable’ Candidates May Spoil GOP’s Midterm Chances

  • Mitch McConnell said some GOP candidates winning primaries might ruin the party’s midterm chances.
  • He said it was “actually possible” for the GOP to lose, despite the Democratic Party’s problems.
  • “You can’t nominate somebody who’s just sort of unacceptable to a broader group of people and win,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that it was still possible that the Republican Party might lose the midterms if it were to field a slate of “unacceptable” candidates in key races.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, McConnell said that the GOP’s chances of wresting back control in the Senate were good, barring wildcard candidates that could mess up the party’s chances. 

McConnell said that the 1994 elections were the best year the Republicans had seen and said he thought the atmosphere moving into this year’s midterms “is better than it was in 1994.” 

“From an atmospheric point of view, it’s a perfect storm of problems for the Democrats because it’s an entirely Democratic government,” McConnell said. “Which leads you to ask the question: ‘How could you screw this up?’ It’s actually possible. And we’ve had some experience with that in the past.”

“In the Senate, if you look at where we have to compete in order to get into a majority, there are places that are competitive in the general election,” McConnell added.”So you can’t nominate somebody who’s just sort of unacceptable to a broader group of people and win.”

He added that in the past there had been instances of “bizarre people” that got through the primary elections but whose chances at winning seats fizzled out by November when the midterms swung around. 

“So far, I’m optimistic that in the places that are going to determine who the next majority leader is, we’re going to have fully electable nominees,” McConnell said, highlighting states like Georgia, Arizona, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

“Having fully-electable nominees is critical from the Senate,” he said.  

The GOP currently holds the minority in the Senate but needs just one additional seat to move the current 50-50 balance in its favor. 

McConnell did not say who he thought would be “unacceptable” as a Senate candidate. However, former President Trump drew the ire of some conservatives by endorsing Mehmet Oz — better known as Dr. Oz — in his race to become a Pennsylvania senator. 

Some Trump-backed candidates like Pennsylvania Senate candidate Sean Parnell and Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens have had scandal-plagued runs. Parnell suspended his campaign after facing domestic abuse allegations from his estranged wife, while Greitens is currently fending off allegations of physical abuse made by his ex-wife.

In February, the New York Times reported that McConnell was quietly working behind the scenes to try to ensure some candidates backed by Trump, whom he was said to have called “goofballs,” didn’t win their Senate primaries.

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