McConnell Basks in Win, Welcomes Conservatives Back

Image: McConnell Basks in Win, Welcomes Conservatives Back Sen. Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao arrive for a victory celebration in Louisville following results of the state Republican primary on May 20.

Thursday, 22 May 2014 07:41 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Having handily defeated Matt Bevin, his tea party opponent in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell returned to Capitol Hill to proclaim that the Republican Party would be united in November, the National Journal reported.

McConnell had devoted much of his primary night victory speech to Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state who will be his opponent in November, and the Harry Reid-led Democratic Party, which he said didn't care a whiff about Kentucky.

Speaking to journalists in Washington on Wednesday, McConnell said that he welcomed the backing of those who'd sought to defeat him in the primary.

"Shortly after the polls closed last night, I was endorsed by the Madison Project, the Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, and Erick Erickson down at Red State. Collectively this group spent about a million dollars against me in the primary but they all got on board last night," he said, according to National Journal.

Politico described McConnell's session with journalists as a "victory lap."

In analyzing the primary results, McConnell said Republicans wanted "to nominate candidates who can actually win in November" and that the "back and forth" within the party would be replaced by "a very unified right-of-center bloc" able to field "highly credible candidates" around the country, the Journal reported.

Meanwhile, tea party-aligned Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who refused to endorse his senate colleague in the primary, announced that "While Senator McConnell has not requested my support or endorsement in the general election" he was ready to work with "anyone" willing to commit to battling Harry Reid's agenda, Politico reported.

In a March interview, McConnell took a fighting tone forecasting that tea party insurgents would be crushed. Now he needs to ensure that those who backed Bevin do not sit out the November elections, The New York Times reported.

McConnell heads into the general election facing a well-funded Lundergan Grimes and grappling with troubling approval ratings. A New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll reported that 52 percent of Kentucky voters disapproved of McConnell's performance as senator. Only 40 percent approved.

For her part, Lundergan Grimes could be handicapped by President Barack Obama's unpopularity – his approval rating is 32 percent among Kentucky voters, the Times reported.

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