McConnell downplayed chance of GOP taking the Senate after polls show Trump’s pick is struggling

McConnell downplayed chance of GOP taking the Senate after polls show Trump’s pick is struggling

Mitch McConnell downplayed Republicans’ chances of retaking the Senate on Thursday, saying the “quality of the candidates” would have a big impact on the outcome.

He did not elaborate further. But he made his comments at a time when many senior Republicans fear that former President Donald Trump has promoted prominent candidates with high profile but no political track record over more formidable activists.

His picks, like the TV doctor Dr. Oz and former sports star Herschel Walker are struggling to get going into halftime in less than three months.

“I think the House of Representatives is probably more likely to topple than the Senate. Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, the quality of the candidates has a lot to do with the outcome,” the Republican Senate leader said at a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Florence, Kentucky.

“Right now we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country, but I think when all is said and done we’re likely to have an extremely tight Senate this fall, either our side slightly or their side slightly up .’

Parties that control the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives are usually crushed in midterm elections.

“I think the House of Representatives is probably more likely to topple than the Senate. Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, the quality of the candidates has a lot to do with the outcome,” Republican leader Mitch McConnell said during an event in his home state of Kentucky

Herschel Walker dr  oz

First candidates such as Herschel Walker (left) and Dr. Oz made it through the Senate primary with the support of Donald Trump but are battling Democratic opponents

In Ohio, JD Vance won a narrow primary with the help of Trump, but is now neck and neck with Democratic nominee Tim Ryan in a state that's leaning toward the Republican

In Ohio, JD Vance won a narrow primary with the help of Trump, but is now neck and neck with Democratic nominee Tim Ryan in a state that’s leaning toward the Republican

Hillbilly Elegy author Vance (left) shakes hands with former President Donald Trump during a Save America rally after Trump gave Vance his endorsement

Hillbilly Elegy author Vance (left) shakes hands with former President Donald Trump during a Save America rally after Trump gave Vance his endorsement

Add in President Joe Biden’s historic unpopularity, and Democrats had assumed 2022 would follow that pattern.

But in recent weeks, they’ve picked up a handful of legislative victories while watching Republican primaries win candidates supported by Trump but rejected by other GOP heavyweights.

In some cases, Trump’s endorsement was enough to make them excessive. But they’re generally untested first-time candidates.

In Pennsylvania’s open Senate race, Dr. Oz falls well short of Democratic nominee John Fetterman, who has noted his opponent is an easy target for social media burns.

As a result, the bipartisan Cook Political Report changed its rating from “toss up” to “lean Democrat” on Thursday.

Fetterman’s campaign successfully branded Oz an “out-of-state carpetbagger” and raised money through a video in which the TV star mixed up the name of a grocery store while shopping for raw food.

“Fancy French appetizer plates aside, a simple look at Oz versus tattooed Fetterman in a hoodie and shorts, and it’s not surprising to see who looks more authentic and relatable to voters,” concluded the Cook Political Report.

1660876826 299 McConnell downplayed chance of GOP taking the Senate after polls Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman raised half a million dollars overnight by winning Republican Dr.  Mehmet slammed Oz for shopping

Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman raised half a million dollars overnight by winning Republican Dr. Mehmet slammed Oz for shopping “raw produce” and suggested the Republican was too elitist for his adoptive PA state

At the same time, Walker was unable to translate his state sports hero status into decent poll numbers in Georgia. He is at a double-digit deficit to Raphael Warnock, despite Republican Gov. Brian Kemp having a strong fight against his Democratic challenger.

Walker has faced questions about the number of children he has fathered and ads describing how he once held a gun to a girlfriend’s head and threatened to pull the trigger.

In Ohio, which has become more Republican in recent years, Trump’s pick JD Vance (who beat a rival backed by the pro-spending Club for Economic Growth) is just neck and neck with Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan.

And in Arizona, Blake Masters trailed Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly by 14 points in the Center Street PAC poll this month.

All of which has McConnell downplaying victory hopes and Democrats cheering.

“Senate campaigns are fights between candidates and candidates,” said David Bergstein of the Democratic Senators’ Campaign Committee.

“And right now, the Republican recruit list looks like a pile of rotting raw produce.”