- Mitch McConnell called Georgia’s Senate runoff a second chance to still win a seat.
- Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and challenger Herschel Walker face voters again on December 6.
- McConnell said he can’t keep Trump from messing with Georgia politics like he did in 2021.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s excited about getting another shot at turning Georgia’s highly competitive Senate seat red. But the Kentucky Republican is less enthused about having to try and keep embattled former President Donald Trump from derailing things, again.
“All of a sudden, I’m a fan of the runoff. We’ve got another chance to get it right,” McConnell said at a Wednesday press conference of the unsettled contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed challenger Herschel Walker.
Neither candidate cleared the 50% threshold on Election Day, triggering an automatic runoff on December 6.
The condensed campaign timeframe gives both parties — and newly declared 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump — just a few weeks to drag their guy across the finish line before the 118th Congress officially gavels in.
The last time Senate Republicans had to battle their way out of Georgia’s runoffs, Trump headlined two Peach State rallies at which he lashed out at voting rules, complained about the 2020 election being stolen from him, and assailed local leaders for not helping him overturn now-President Joe Biden’s lawful win.
Many Republicans pointed to Trump’s vocal criticism of the presidential election results for depressing turnout among GOP base voters in the runoffs, as some people felt that voting in the races were a futile exercise.
These days, Trump is combating multiple investigations and taking heat from Republicans like McConnell who blame him for the GOP’s poor showing in the 2022 midterm elections.
When asked if he wanted Trump to return to the state on Walker’s behalf, McConnell conceded that there was no real way to block the twice-impeached GOP figurehead from joining the fray.
“We can’t pretty well determine who’s going to come in,” McConnell told reporters at the US Capitol.
Trump campaign aides and Walker campaign aides did not immediately respond to requests for comment about whether Trump planned to travel to Georgia in the next few weeks.
Democrats have already secured a 50-seat majority even without a Georgia win, but picking up another would grant them broader powers, including more breathing room to approve judicial nominees. McConnell, for his part, said he remains committed to producing the best midterms outcome possible.
“50 is better than 49. And we’re gonna give it everything we got,” McConnell said.
Republicans, who had long predicted that their party would triumphantly return to power on Capitol Hill this fall due to Biden’s middling approval ratings and voter discontent on issues like inflation and immigration, went on to lose in numerous swing districts across the country — showcasing the limits of conventional wisdom about midterm elections.
The Senate majority that GOP leaders saw within reach eventually fizzled, as candidates like Blake Masters of Arizona and Mehmet Oz of Pennsylvania faltered in critical suburban areas and received tepid support from independents.
And while the House was called for the GOP on Tuesday by DDHQ and Insider, the Republican majority will be slim, with moderates and Freedom Caucus members set to gain considerable influence as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy continues to scramble to secure the requisite 218 votes to serve as speaker in January 2023.