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McConnell Weighs in on Key Senate Races. Could It Shake Up the Map?

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Posted: Sep 24, 2021 9:30 PM
McConnell Weighs in on Key Senate Races. Could It Shake Up the Map?

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

In the 50-50 Senate, Democrats have control thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris role in casting any tie breaking votes where necessary. With such a narrow lead, then, it remains all the more worthwhile for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to weigh in about the chances of the GOP taking back the senate, and elevating his title to Majority Leader McConnell. Friday morning's report from Burgess Everett with POLITICO provided the latest insight.

Last month, Herschel Walker announced he was running to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), who is up for re-election in 2022. Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) in a runoff election back in January, who herself had been appointed by the state's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson. Thus, it was always a seat where an opponent would get plenty of attention. 

To say that former President Donald Trump enthusiastically supports Walker would be an understatement. Two two are actually campaigning together in Georgia on Saturday. Some wondered about McConnell's misgivings on the candidate.

Well, they won't have to wonder anymore.

As Everett began his piece with:

Republicans are hand-wringing over former President Donald Trump’s hand-picked candidate Herschel Walker entering a critical Senate race. Surprisingly, Mitch McConnell isn’t one of them.

After vowing earlier this year to tangle with Trump if necessary to nominate electable GOP candidates in must-win Senate primaries, the Senate minority leader is tacitly blessing many of Trump’s endorsements. As McConnell surveys Trump’s picks in Senate battlegrounds, he's concluded that “I don't believe they're troubling.”

Leader McConnell has spoken with Walker, signaling good things. As Everett continued:

“There are some things written that indicate he’s had some challenges in his life. On the other hand, the good news is, he's made several impressive performances on national television. His whole team is the same team around [former Sen.] Johnny Isakson,” McConnell said in an interview this week. “He's called me; we had a good conversation. I think there's every indication he’s going to be a good candidate.”

Where there is, however, a difference in preferred candidate is for Alaska's seat currently held by Sen. Lisa Murkowski. It's not hard to see why Trump isn't a fan. She's pro-choice, moderate, and considered a RINO by many. She also voted to impeach Trump after he had already left office. Murkowski was also the subject of another POLITICO feature when it comes to Republican dynasties that Trump isn't much of a fan of, which I also wrote a VIP piece on. 

In late March, Kelly Tshibaka Alaska announced she was challenging Murkowski, quickly portraying herself as an America First candidate. She has enjoyed impressive fundraising numbers and the endorsement from Trump, as well as from the Alaskan Republican Party. 

"We’re all in for Lisa. In every way. Senate Leadership Fund, NRSC, we’re all in for Lisa. I think she’ll have a competitive race," McConnell said. 

What's perhaps even more so in Murkowski's favor is that she still won her seat even after losing the Republican primary, back in 2010, thanks to a successful write-in campaign.

Of another senate seat, McConnell had a fitting as any answer when asked about Trump's endorsement of Rep.   Mo Brooks. "He’s a Republican, isn’t he? The magic number is 51," McConnell had said. 

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