McConnell says 'unacceptable' candidates could be risk to GOP midterm chances

"It’s a perfect storm of problems for the Democrats. How could you screw this up? It’s actually possible," minority leader says

Published: April 13, 2022 10:00am

Updated: April 13, 2022 4:08pm

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says his Republican Party has the strong advantage over Democrats in this year's midterms but could jeopardize its likelihood of retaking the House – and perhaps the Senate – by nominating "unacceptable" candidates.

"From an atmospheric point of view, it’s a perfect storm of problems for the Democrats," the Kentucky Republican said at an event this week. "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. So you can’t nominate somebody who’s just sort of unacceptable to a broader group of people and win. We had that experience in 2010 and 2012."

McConnell also said that the atmosphere for Republicans may be even better this year than it was in 1994, when the GOP earned a long-awaited midterm victory following an ousting from the White House. 

Though the GOP is generally expected to win back the House, the Senate will be a trickier. 

Republicans need to flip just one seat to gain the majority in the 50-50 split upper chamber. However, they have 21 incumbents, compared to 14 for Democrats, with retirements and swing state changes further complicating the task.

To be sure, inflation, crime, President Biden's low poll numbers and the historical midterm advantage of the party not in the White House will help Republicans. But they will still have to navigate several crowded primaries to determine their candidates in critical races.

On Tuesday, McConnell specifically mentioned such states as Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin those in which the fight for Senate control will largely take place, and suggested the GOP is well positioned to win in those contests. 

"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," he said.

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