McConnell laments that Trump endorsees cost GOP the Senate
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday once again cited "candidate quality" as a major issue that cost the Republicans control of the Senate in the midterm elections.
"I never said there was a red wave. I said we had a bunch of close races," McConnell said, per The Hill. "We ended up having a candidate quality [issue]... Look at Arizona, look at New Hampshire and a challenging situation in Georgia as well."
Former President Donald Trump weighed in on several GOP Senate primaries held in battleground states. His endorsements helped propel unconventional candidates such as Dr. Mehmet Oz (Pa.), Blake Masters (Ariz.), and Herschel Walker (Ga.) to the Republican nomination in key Senate battleground contests. All of them lost.
Despite polling data suggesting a Republican landslide in the House and a good chance for the GOP to secure the upper chamber, the party underperformed as it narrowly secured the House with 222 seats while losing one seat in the Senate.
"Our ability to control primary outcomes was quite limited in '22 because the support of the former president proved to be very decisive in these primaries, so my view was do the best with the cards you're dealt," McConnell continued. "Hopefully in the next cycle, we'll have quality candidates everywhere and a better outcome."
McConnell cited concerns about "candidate quality" in the leadup to the midterms and maintained a conspicuously more cautious outlook on the GOP's prospects for victory than did other party leaders.
Then-National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.) openly feuded with McConnell over the matter, with Scott asserting the minority leader's public griping about the party's nominees was hurting their prospects. Scott later mounted an unsuccessful challenge to the Kentucky senator for Senate leadership.