Daily Camera (Boulder)

Mcconnell tries to sal­vage Se­nate ma­jor­ity

- By Lisa Mascaro US Elections · U.S. News · US Politics · Politics · Elections · Republican Party Politics · Justice · Law · United States Senate · Washington · Mitch McConnell · Republican Party (United States) · U.S. Supreme Court · Donald Trump · White House · Amy Coney Barrett · Democratic Party (United States) · Dallas · Texas · Mitt Romney · Joe Biden · Alaska · Congress of the United States · United States of America · Club for Growth · Ronald Reagan · Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Lindsey Graham · South Carolina · Jaime Harrison · Samuel Alito · Robert Bork

WASHINGTON — Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mcconnell spent a year prep­ping his Repub­li­can col­leagues for this mo­ment, telling them the con­fir­ma­tion a Supreme Court jus­tice is the “most im­por­tant” vote they will take as se­na­tors, the chance to make “seis­mic change” that will stay with the nation for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Now, three weeks be­fore Elec­tion Day, the GOP leader needs this mo­ment more than ever.

Con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings are set to be­gin Mon­day for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Supreme Court nom­i­nee giv­ing Repub­li­cans one last chance to sal­vage their Se­nate ma­jor­ity by wrest­ing at­ten­tion away from the White House and its COVID-19 re­sponse and onto the GOP’S long­time goal of fash­ion­ing a con­ser­va­tive court.

The ar­rival of con­ser­va­tive Judge Amy Coney Bar­rett of­fers a long-shot op­por­tu­nity to bring way­ward Repub­li­can vot­ers back in the fold. As Trump’s stand­ing drops in in­ter­nal polls, Mcconnell hopes to re­mind vot­ers why they stuck with Trump in 2016: the prom­ise of an­other con­ser­va­tive jus­tice rul­ing on abor­tion ac­cess and other big is­sues. Democrats are within range of seiz­ing Se­nate con­trol Nov. 3.

“It’s go­ing to do what it’s go­ing to do -- en­er­gize the base,” said Doug Dea­son, a wealthy Dal­las donor who is the North­ern Texas fundrais­ing chair­man for Trump and helps con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans.

That’s the op­ti­mistic view. It’s com­ing mostly from those Repub­li­cans and back­ers still pour­ing mil­lions of dol­lars into cam­paign ef­forts to sal­vage Mcconnell’s slim 53-47 GOP ma­jor­ity.

The more dour assess­ment is that Mcconnell is sim­ply try­ing to grab what­ever he can be­fore he and his ma­jor­ity are out the door.

“To me, it just in­di­cates a clear lack of con­fi­dence in Don­ald Trump and these Se­nate races,” said Stu­art Stevens, a veteran Repub­li­can strate­gist who helmed Mitt Rom­ney’s 2012 cam­paign and now is among those try­ing to de­feat Trump.

Democrats need to gain at least three seats to win the Se­nate ma­jor­ity if pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den is elected, or four if Trump wins a sec­ond-term, be­cause party’s vice pres­i­dent can vote as a tie-breaker in the Se­nate.

What started as an elec­tion cy­cle with just a hand­ful of se­na­tors at risk has bal­looned into an ex­pand­ing Se­nate map from Alaska to in­ter-moun­tain West to the Deep South as Repub­li­cans face tough chal­lenges, while Democrats see few.

Alarms are flash­ing red through­out Repub­li­can Se­nate cam­paigns af­ter Trump’s over­bear­ing de­bate per­for­mance and COVID di­ag­no­sis sent the party’s poll num­bers cra­ter­ing, par­tic­u­larly among the sub­ur­ban white women and moms who helped elect him in 2016.

One Repub­li­can ad­vis­ing in Se­nate and House races called it the worst pres­i­den­tial dive in U.S. his­tory — one that is bring­ing the en­tire GOP ticket down with it. It’s some­thing no amount of money can fix, the per­son said. The strate­gist, like oth­ers in­ter­viewed for this story, were granted anonymity to frankly as­sess the sit­u­a­tion.

In group meet­ings and one on one, Mcconnell started rais­ing the prospect of a Supreme Court va­cancy last year, ac­cord­ing to a per­son close to the leader and fa­mil­iar with the pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions.

He told them leg­is­lat­ing can bring in­cre­men­tal changes but as se­na­tors they have few op­por­tu­ni­ties to make the more sub­stan­tial, last­ing shift that comes with a life­time ap­point­ment to the court.

“He is per­son­ally, deeply com­mit­ted to get­ting a great Supreme Court jus­tice on the court,” said David Mcin­tosh, pres­i­dent of the con­ser­va­tive Club for Growth who has worked with Mcconnell on ju­di­cial nom­i­nees for years, back to Ron­ald Rea­gan’s failed nom­i­na­tion of Robert Bork to the court.

With the death of Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg Sept. 18, the plan was al­ready set. Only two GOP se­na­tors balked at quick con­fir­ma­tion.

The hear­ings will spot­light Sen. Lind­sey Graham, the chair­man of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, who faces his own com­pet­i­tive re-elec­tion in South Carolina, where Demo­crat Jaime Harrison in rais­ing mil­lions to de­feat him.

 ?? Sarah Silbiger / Getty Im­ages ?? Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mcconnell, R-KY, walks from his of­fice to the Se­nate floor fol­low­ing a meet­ing with Supreme Court Nom­i­nee Amy Coney Bar­rett at the U.S. Capi­tol on Sept. 30 in Washington.
Sarah Silbiger / Getty Im­ages Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mcconnell, R-KY, walks from his of­fice to the Se­nate floor fol­low­ing a meet­ing with Supreme Court Nom­i­nee Amy Coney Bar­rett at the U.S. Capi­tol on Sept. 30 in Washington.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA