Following an unsatisfactory performance in the 2022 midterms, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is hitting the ground running with his plan to regain the majority in the chamber by focusing on recruiting “high-quality” candidates.
While Republicans had several chances to flip Democratic seats in 2022, there was widespread criticism — even from the party’s Senate leader himself — that GOP candidates in states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia were not strong enough to win in the general election.
Many of these candidates received the support of former President Donald Trump.
McConnell told CNN in an interview that GOP Senate leadership and its campaign arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), are focused on recruiting and supporting candidates they believe will win in 2024.
McConnell explained the NRSC would be “involved” in every primary where getting a quality candidate is necessary and in every general election where the GOP has a “legitimate” chance to win, “regardless of the philosophy of the nominee.”
Recruitment for these candidates has already begun, as Republicans see multiple opportunities to flip Democratic seats in 2024.
The electoral map is favorable for the GOP, including opportunities to pick up seats in states that Trump won decisively in 2020, such as West Virginia and Montana.
In West Virginia, McConnell has already succeeded in lobbying the state’s popular Republican governor, Jim Justice, to run for the Senate.
Whether Justice will face moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.) is undetermined as Manchin has not yet announced whether he will be seeking reelection.
Describing West Virginia as “very, very red,” McConnell shared that the NRSC would do everything to win the state, expressing hope that would be possible with a candidate like the “popular incumbent Governor.”
The Kentucky Republican anticipated that the GOP would compete heavily in four states in particular — West Virginia, Ohio, Montana, and Pennsylvania.
He conceded that in other states, like Arizona and Wisconsin, it would take an “outstanding candidate” to unseat Democrats or, in the case of Arizona, Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema.