Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned on Monday that he and his allies are willing to step into Republican Senate primaries to try to prevent a candidate they view as unelectable in November 2022 from advancing.
McConnell, during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, was asked if he and the Senate Leadership Fund, an outside group closely aligned with the Kentucky Republican, would be willing to intervene in 2022 Republican primaries.
“If necessary,” McConnell told Hewitt about their willingness to get involved in Republican primaries.
“There’s no question that in order to win … you have to appeal to the general election audience,” McConnell added. “I’ll be keeping an eye on that. Hopefully we won’t have to intervene, but if we do, we will.”
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Republicans are hoping to take back the Senate majority in 2022, where they are defending 20 seats compared to 14 for Democrats. Among those states are four open seats, and two seats in states won in 2020 by President Biden. They are also hoping to unseat Democrats in states like Georgia, Arizona and New Hampshire, states all carried by Biden last year.
McConnell’s warning comes as the party watched themselves lose seats they had hoped to flip in the 2010 and 2012 cycles after GOP candidates won the primary only to unravel in the general election.
He previously didn’t rule out in February the potential that he would get involved.
But his new remarks come as the party is facing renewed primary headaches heading into 2022; they face crowded fields in states like Missouri, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where loyalty to former President Trump remains a critical factor.
Trump has also come out hard against some GOP incumbents, including vowing to challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who hasn’t formally announced if she’s going to run for reelection. He also previously heavily criticized Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), McConnell’s No. 2.
Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, told Axios earlier this month that 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 GOP incumbents.