Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell won't be losing his Senate seat in November's general election, says South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, who was able to knock out party leader Tom Daschle in 2004.
"Sen. Daschle at the time was using his leadership position in a way that was contrary to where a majority of South Dakotans were," Thune says in an interview taped for C-SPAN's "Newsmakers," reports Politico
. And eventually, said Thune, "that caught up with him."
The Thune-Daschle race helped set a precedent for candidates to challenge incumbent party leaders, with some of those races — such as the stunning defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to newcomer David Brat in Virginia's primary — resulting in upsets.
But Thune said McConnell's competition, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, won't be delivering an upset victory in November. Kentucky is a conservative state, said Thune.
In Daschle's case, his views as a Democrat had fallen out of favor with South Dakota's voters, who had become more conservative.
Polls show the McConnell-Grimes race is extremely close. A Public Policy Polling survey puts Grimes, who is Kentucky's secretary of state, with a 2-point edge of 48 percent to 46 percent over McConnell, reports The Hill
The independent vote will likely be key in the race. According to the poll, 56 percent of independent voters said they'd likely back Grimes, with 30 percent backing McCOnnell.
But in Kentucky, where residents blame President Barack Obama for waging a war on coal, Grimes says she opposes his efforts and blames McConnell for the coal rules.
The voters polled also said they'd likely vote for a candidate who will raise the minimum wage. Grimes supports the wage hike, while McConnell opposes it.
Thune, though, says McConnell will tie Grimes to an increasingly unpopular Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Senate, both of which do not meet with favor in Kentucky.
The poll did show that Obamacare will likely be a factor in the election, with 46 percent of the voters saying they'd probably vote for a candidate who wants to repeal and replace the healthcare reform policy, which McConnell advocates doing.
Grimes has not said how she would have voted for Obamacare, but has said she would work to fix it.
"Sen. McConnell’s views on the issues and the way he represents his state, very much reflects the majority view in the state of Kentucky," Thune said. "He’s running against somebody who’s going to be very much left of the state."
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