Thanksgiving Update: Mitch McConnell Losing the War Against Republican Base
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is badly losing the war he is waging against his own party’s voters this Thanksgiving, a sign of the failed GOP leader’s waning power in the era of President Donald J. Trump.
Just over a couple weeks from now, conservative Judge Roy Moore is expected to defeat radical Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions—and that is just the beginning of a larger wave brewing against McConnell. After Jones goes down, as polls indicate he will, and Moore is elected to the Senate, McConnell faces a rash of electoral events coming up next year that are likely to further destabilize his power structure in the Senate—all while struggling this year to get anything done for President Trump’s agenda.
McConnell’s last-ditch effort to stop Moore in Alabama came over the past couple weeks after evidence-free allegations against Moore allege he engaged in sexual misconduct decades ago. Within minutes of the allegations first appearing in the Washington Post, McConnell and his legion of Senate GOP allies called for Moore to “step aside.” But, upon further review, the allegations have not held up under scrutiny and the stories of the accusers have begun crumbling with actual reporting into the details of them. Gloria Allred, the attorney for one of them, has refused in interviews on CNN and MSNBC to deny that the only piece of evidence she offered to back up her claims—a yearbook she and her client claim Moore signed years ago—is a forgery.
McConnell has gone all out to try to stop Moore.
“Senate Republicans are running out of options in their effort to replace Roy Moore as the party’s nominee in the Alabama Senate race,” Alex Bolton wrote in The Hill this past weekend describing McConnell’s failed efforts. “In the past week, they tried to pressure Moore to drop out by siding with the women who accused him of sexual misconduct. He refused. They tried to coax President Trump into calling for Moore’s ouster. Trump declined. They tried to convince the Alabama Republican Party to disqualify Moore as the nominee or to schedule a new election. Those officials said no. They tried to find a write-in candidate to challenge Moore, but their first choice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, signaled through allies he wasn’t interested. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), went so far as to call for a vote to expel Moore from the Senate should he win the Dec. 12 special election. Nothing has worked. Moore is still in the race.”
Instead of succeeding in ousting Moore from the race, the entire attack has backfired. Moore has shot back repeatedly at McConnell on the campaign trail, reiterating his call for McConnell to step aside as Senate Majority Leader.
“This is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama,” Moore said at a news conference in Birmingham, Alabama, last week.
Meanwhile, President Trump has come forward and called out liberal Democrat Jones’ record—and emphasized that Moore has denied the allegations against him.
Alabama is the least of McConnell’s worries now. McConnell has failed to repeal and replace Obamacare. He is already facing difficulty in passing tax cuts. Both of those agenda items his House counterparts passed with ease. More than 300 bills that have passed the House this year languish in the McConnell-run Senate. But as next year rolls around, passing agenda items may be the least of McConnell’s concerns.
In elections across the country, McConnell-aligned forces are dropping like flies. McConnell spent more than $30 million attempting to prop up appointed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the Alabama special election only to have Moore smoke him on Sept. 26 by nearly double digits. That same day, McConnell ally Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)—the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—announced his intent to retire next year. That cleared the way for conservative Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to step up as the clear frontrunner for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee.
A couple weeks later, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced his intent to retire as well—clearing the way for former state senator Dr. Kelli Ward in Arizona. Blackburn and Ward are unlikely to just be handed their respective nominations—McConnell’s establishment forces are desperate to find alternatives to both of them—but are both likely to win.
Meanwhile, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is likely to retire in Utah—setting the stage for a battle for control of that Senate seat between conservatives and the anti-Republican Party base potential candidate Mitt Romney. Romney, the failed GOP nominee for president in 2012, is a former governor of Massachusetts. After he lost the 2012 election, he turned on the GOP and pushed his former party to support amnesty for illegal aliens and back corporatist policies that would severely harm GOP voters. If Romney were to carpetbag into Utah to try to run for Senate there, it would spark a severe war inside the party—and lay all of Romney’s deep, dark financial history out to bare for the whole world to see.
Over in Mississippi, state Sen. Chris McDaniel—from whom McConnell allies stole the 2014 GOP nomination for Senate when McDaniel ran against Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) using underhanded tactics that backfired in 2016’s presidential primaries—is plotting a potential bid against Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). McDaniel would be a formidable candidate against Wicker, and establishment forces close to McConnell in Washington, D.C., tell Breitbart News that the Senate Majority Leader is very worried about that race.
That then brings up Wyoming, where Blackwater founder Erik Prince is mulling a bid against incumbent Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)—something that would likely be an easy win for Prince as Wyoming voters are some of the most conservative in the country. Then, of course, there is Nevada—where Danny Tarkanian is running against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) in a state Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton won in 2016—causing even more worry for McConnell.
That’s not to mention other states like Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, where voters and GOP forces are aligning against McConnell en masse. Not one Senate candidate in 2018 is openly supporting McConnell remaining Majority Leader, as even top National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) recruits like Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel, and Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) understand the toxicity McConnell brings upon the party.
In Wisconsin, the clear frontrunner businessman Kevin Nicholson—who is running far ahead of the establishment-backed state Sen. Leah Vukmir—has openly called for new leadership in the GOP-led Senate. Vukmir, who has fallen behind Nicholson, has rebuked calls from her own party’s voters for fresh leadership different than McConnell.
That all doesn’t even begin to get into the issues McConnell faces as two of his more senior members, Cochran in Mississippi and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in Arizona, have serious health issues that could imperil their long-term service prospects. With establishment members under fire in both states–Flake has already stepped aside, and Wicker is likely to face a brutal primary challenge with little chance of victory–that presents an opportunity for conservatives who want fresh, new GOP leadership other than McConnell in the U.S. Senate to flip four seats instead of just two.
If McConnell fails to pass tax cuts this year, he is likely to face an even more unforgiving electorate next year. But even if he does pass tax cuts, the voters across America are unlikely to give him any breaks at the polls when his allies face the fire and Republicans pushing for fresh leadership win in landslides.