There are routine calls for Republicans to do something about Mitch McConnell. And I get it. He’s a creature of the establishment, he has not exactly been the kindest guy toward upstart conservatives coming to Washington D.C., and he has never really been so much as ally of Trump as he was just on the same side for certain issues.
We have covered McConnell extensively here at RedState, condemning his more establishment behavior at times while also begrudgingly admitting that the overturning of Roe v. Wade wouldn’t have happened without him. I have affectionately referred to him as a “supervillain” on at least one occasion.
Conservatives are currently upset at McConnell for casting doubt on the more pro-Trump candidates who are currently struggling in their Senate races. Over at the conservative site Rvivr, Jeff Crouere also writes that McConnell’s fear of low-quality Senate candidates is shameful.
McConnell is 80 years old and has spent most of the last six decades of his life in Washington D.C. as a member of the “Swamp.” He started working in Washington D.C. as a U.S. Senate intern in 1964 at the age of twenty-two. Over the next twenty years, he held political positions in both Kentucky and Washington D.C. before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984.
It is no surprise that McConnell supports moderate Republican candidates. He despised the Tea Party movement and truly hates everything associated with MAGA and Donald Trump.
McConnell is the type of Republican who is comfortable with U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) and the members of the Bush family. He is the epitome of the party’s problem.
It’s a sentiment that many in the conservative movement feel fairly regularly. It’s frustrating at times to see the most conservative actions possible not get taken, and to see the Republican Party self-moderate in order to score a deal, rather than negotiate from the farthest position so they can walk away with a meaningful victory or two.
However, the Wall Street Journal does point out a problem for conservatives: McConnell is the key to financing campaigns.
The biggest campaign story last week wasn’t Mitch McConnell’s warning that Republicans might not retake the Senate in November. That’s been clear since the party nominated so many candidates whose main advantage was support from Donald Trump. The big story was that those candidates are now calling on Mr. McConnell to come to their rescue.
Exhibit A is Ohio, where the Super Pac allied with Mr. McConnell, the Senate Leadership Fund, is committing $28 million to save GOP nominee J.D. Vance. The “Hillbilly Elegy” author won the primary in a divided field after Mr. Trump endorsed him. But Mr. Vance has struggled to raise money from the GOP donor network he disdained as he courted the populist right. That worked in the primary, but it may not be enough to win in November.
Part of that Old Guard/Establishment advantage is the access to regular donors and the respect of party allies who know someone capable of regularly winning elections. And, like it or not, Mitch McConnell outlasted a lot of challenges.
That’s the biggest issue going forward for conservatives. It really does look like McConnell is only leaving D.C. when he wants to, so you’ve got to figure out how to work with him or work around him. Is that something that these conservatives backed by Trump will be able to do? They’ve been outspoken about the desire to get McConnell out of power, but when the time comes, will they be able to pull it off?
It’s hard to imagine any outcome that isn’t “Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” We’ve seen that many times in the years since the Tea Party movement. And, to be absolutely fair to McConnell, there has been a fundamental transformation of the judicial branch because he held his ground and worked to get as many conservative judges onto the bench as possible in Trump’s four years as President. He may not have gotten fiscal reforms through the Senate (and, frankly, it doesn’t look like he ever really cared about such things), but there is something to be said for the successes he has brought to conservatives.
I’m no fan of the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, but it’s hard to see any movement that knocks him out of power. You can stubbornly work against him or you can work with him. The question becomes, though, if you can work with him without being seen as a sellout… or becoming one.