Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday he and a group aligned with him were willing to intervene in Republican Senate primaries to prevent the advancement of candidates deemed unelectable in November.
During a radio interview, McConnell was asked if he and the Senate Leadership Fund, an external group connected to the leader, would be willing to interfere with 2022 Republican primaries.
"If necessary," McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. "I mean, you’re recalling the same period I am, 2010 and 2012 when we nominated four or five candidates by being passive in primaries that simply could not appeal to a general election audience.
"There’s no question that in order to win, you have to, in most states that are going to determine who’s in the majority next time, you have to appeal to a general election audience. And some of the candidates who filed in these primaries clearly aren’t. I’ll be keeping an eye on that. Hopefully, we won’t have to intervene. But if we do, we will."
Senate Leadership Fund spokesman Jack Pandol told Axios last week the group reserved
"the right to intervene in cases where a candidate is a clear threat to lose a seat in a general election" and to support Republican incumbents.
Republicans aim to take back control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. The GOP will be defending 20 Senate seats, while Democrats will be defending 14.
Those seats include four open seats — Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania — and two seats in states won by President Joe Biden last year.
Republicans also are hoping to unseat Democrats in states such as Arizona, Georgia, Arizona, and New Hampshire, states also carried by Biden in 2020.
McConnell, who in February didn't rule out the possibly of getting involved in GOP primaries, issued his warning after Republicans failed to capture seats they had hoped to flip in 2010 and 2012, The Hill reported.
Missouri, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are all states where loyalty to former President Donald Trump remains strong.
Trump, who has been critical of McConnell’s leadership, said he’ll oppose some Republican incumbents. The former president has vowed to challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who hasn't announced if she’ll seek reelection, and he has criticized Minority Whip Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
In April, Trump said he was optimistic Republicans will retake the House and Senate in 2022, but called for new leadership to replace McConnell.
"We need good leadership," Trump said in an interview with Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo. "Mitch McConnell has not done a great job, I think they should change Mitch McConnell."
Trump escalated his attacks on McConnell after the leader denounced Trump following the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
"The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political 'leaders' like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm," Trump said in a statement shortly after McConnell's Senate floor comments. "Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again."
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