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Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:53 AM

Making Mitch McConnell pay

The obstructionist-in-chief's failure to make Obama a one-termer gives him his best chance at survival in '14

There’s been no end to the grief Mitch McConnell’s taken for his declaration early in Barack Obama’s first term that his party’s top goal was to make the president a one-term. Ironically, though, the failure of McConnell and the GOP to realize their goal may be the best thing he has going for him as 2014 approaches.

McConnell has been the Senate minority leader since 2006, succeeding Bill Frist just as the party lost its majority in the chamber. Twice in his tenure – in 2010 and again in 2012 – Republicans have seemed poised to win back the majority only to fall short thanks to a combination of counterproductive primary results and a national image problem that turned off swing voters in key races. As ’14 approaches, Republicans are again looking at a favorable map, though it would take some big breaks for them to overcome the Democrats current 55-45 advantage. But McConnell himself has a much simpler concern: saving his own job.

The Kentuckian, who turns 71 on Wednesday, has never exactly been beloved in his home state, where voters have moved closer to the GOP in recent years but are still more than willing to vote Democratic. In his first campaign, back in 1984, McConnell scored an upset over incumbent Democrat Walter Huddleston by a fraction of a point, a victory that owed itself entirely to Ronald Reagan’s formidable coattails. When McConnell last faced the voters, in 2008, he held on by six points against Democrat Bruce Lunsford – this on the same day that John McCain carried Kentucky by 16 points. And in early polling for ’14, he’s running under 50 percent and leading Ashley Judd, the Kentucky native and Hollywood actress who is edging closer to a candidacy, by a high single-digit margin.

Senate leaders have become irresistible targets for the rival party’s activists in recent years. The trend was kicked off in 2004, when Republicans made toppling Democratic leader Tom Daschle one of their top priorities. The GOP recruited a top-notch candidate, John Thune, poured millions into his coffers and even coaxed then-Majority Leader Bill Frist into coming to South Dakota on Thune’s behalf – a violation of a tradition of party leaders refraining from each other’s home state battles. The gambit worked and Daschle was defeated in a close race. Democrats then made a serious run at McConnell in ’08, although Majority Leader Harry Reid stayed away from Kentucky during the race, and Republicans made Reid their No. 1 Senate target in ’10; if GOP primary voters hadn’t insisted on nominating the erratic, self-destructive Sharron Angle, Reid would likely have been felled.


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Reply Making Mitch McConnell pay (Original post)
DonViejo Feb 2013 OP
gordianot Feb 2013 #1

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:15 AM

1. Right, just what every Democratic Senate candidate longs for the campaign charisma of Harry Reid.

As much appeal there as Yurtle the turtle has for Republicans. I tell you both are giants in the Senate.

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