Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water Thursday on talk that Republicans would cruise to control of the upper chamber of Congress in November’s midterm elections.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell (R-Ky.) told the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in remarks reported by Acesparks and other outlets.
“Senate races are just different,” he added. “They’re statewide. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
McConnell did not mention the names of specific candidates, but the Republican leader notably failed to convince two popular GOP governors — Larry Hogan of Maryland and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire — to run for the Senate in this cycle.
The current crop of Republican Senate candidates includes former University of Georgia football star Herschel Walker, who has come under fire for his history of domestic violence against his former wife and the recent revelation that he fathered three children whose existence had never been publicly disclosed.
Meanwhile, celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz is having a rough time in Pennsylvania’s Senate race, trailing Lt. Govt. John Fetterman by nearly nine points in a RealClearPolitics average of polls despite Fetterman barely appearing in public as he recovers from a stroke.
Their struggles have some pundits comparing 2022 to elections in 2010 and 2012, when Republicans missed opportunities to regain Senate control by nominating candidates like self-professed witchcraft enthusiast Christine O’Donnell in Delaware.
Perhaps the most notorious GOP misfire was Todd Akin, whose 2012 run to unseat then-Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was doomed after he suggested that “legitimate rape” could not lead to a conception of a child.
Republicans later took control of the Senate in 2014 and held it for the next six years.
“Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country, but I think when all is said and done this fall, we’re likely to have an extremely close Senate,” McConnell predicted Thursday. “Either our side up slightly or their side up slightly.”