McConnell Blames Trump’s Influence in Primaries for ‘Candidate Quality’ Problems in Midterms

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on February 16, 2021 shows US President Donal

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed Tuesday that the Republican Party had a “candidate quality” issue in the midterm elections and blamed former President Donald J. Trump for his influence in the GOP primaries.

When a reporter asked McConnell if he expects to “take a more active role in choosing candidates” in 2024, he responded by referencing November’s midterm elections, asserting that he “never said there was a red wave” on the horizon.

“I said we had a bunch of close races, and looking at each race separately, I wasn’t making that up,” he added before blaming the lackluster election results on “candidate quality.”

“Look at Arizona, look at New Hampshire, and a challenging situation in Georgia as well,” said McConnell before bragging that the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), a super PAC he is aligned with, influenced the outcome of GOP primaries in Missouri and Alabama.

“I do think we had an opportunity to relearn one more time: you have to have quality candidates to win competitive senate races,” he added.

McConnell then asserted that his ability to influence primary election outcomes was hindered by Trump and the power behind his endorsement in primary races.

“Our ability to control primary outcome was quite limited in ’22 because of the support of the former president proved to be very decisive in these primaries, so my view was do the best you can with the cards you’re dealt,” he continued.

While McConnell suggested Arizona and New Hampshire Republican candidates Blake Masters and Don Bolduc were flawed, the SLF pulled millions in advertising from the two candidates at crucial points in their races, effectively abandoning them.

In late September, just weeks before mail-in-voting began, the SLF reportedly pulled $9.6 million in reserved advertising for the Arizona Senate race, leaving other conservative groups scrambling to make up the difference. When Bolduc was climbing in the polls in late October –  just weeks before election day – the SLF ripped away $5.6 million from the race.

At the same time, McConnell put $9 million behind pro-impeachment establishment Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in her race against Trump-backed candidate Kelly Tshibaka. In other words, McConnell pulled funds from Republicans attempting to unseat Democrats in key battleground states but funded an establishment Republican against Trump’s candidate.


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