The actual fate of the ultimate control of the US Senate will not be decided until next Tuesday, when the two Georgia special elections are held. But that has nothing whatsoever to do with the outcome of the Republican control in the Senate in 2021. That is already decided. Mitch McConnell will be either the Majority or the Minority Leader of the Senate, depending on the results of those two elections.
And guess what? Whatever happens in the runoff elections, whether he is Majority or Minority Leader, on the day he begins, Mitch McConnell will already be a lame duck leader in the US Senate. And that is simply because before the new session of congress even begins, McConnell has already lost control of his caucus.
Here’s why. On the day after the electoral college votes were recorded in the 50 states, Mitch McConnell went to the floor of the Senate and finally acknowledged, six weeks after the election, that Joe Biden was the President Elect. In a conference call later that day he warned his caucus in the strongest possible terms not to sign on to any House GOP nonsense in trying to contest the electoral college results on January 6th, saying it would put GOP Senators in a disastrous no win vote, either to back Trump in a losing effort, or to vote against him. The next day, McConnell’s number two man, Senator John Thune, also warned GOP Senators from backing any ill advised attempts to subvert the electoral college tally, predicting that any such attempt would die in the Senate like a shot dog.
Because, will wonders never cease, 2024 is already upon us! Freshman GOP Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has not been shy about the fact that he wants to try to replicate Barack Obama’s feat of becoming the next freshman Senator to become President. And Josh Hawley came out earlier today to announce that he will be more than happy to back GOP House lunacy on January 6th to try to steal the election for Trump. Without directly saying a word, Josh Hawley will unofficially kick off his 2024 Presidential campaign by engaging in a losing stunt to deny Biden the presidency.
And Hawley isn’t the only one. Both Marco Rubio, up for reelection in 2022, and Ted Cruz in Texas, ran for President in 2016 against Trump, and have made no bones about their desire to run again in 2024. Thom Tillis in North Carolina, fresh off of a close victory in November, is also reputed to be sending up trial balloons.
Which totally hamstrings McConnell, whether he is Majority or Minority Leader. Because for the next four years, he is going to have at least three GOP Senators who are going to be making their decisions on legislative issues based more on what will create a positive impression on the GOP base than on McConnell’s grand strategy. You already see vulnerable 2022 GOP Senators backing the House $2000 stimulus, in spite of McConnell’s opposition.
Here’s the problem. Not only is McConnell facing three Senators thinking more in terms of their 2024 prospects than his grand strategy, but he has Pat Toomey retiring in 2022 from Pennsylvania, a state that just flipped back blue in 2020. And Richard Burr is retiring in 2022 in North Carolina, a state where Tillis barely survived in 2020, and a replacement with no incumbent advantage.
But the worst is yet to come. The fact that McConnell is going to have trouble holding the three potential presidential candidates in line is only going to give freedom to others. Much more moderate GOP Senators, like Susan Collins from Maine, and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, who have butted heads with Trump in the past, along with Mitt Romney from Utah, and Ben Sasse from Nebraska, will feel emboldened to cross the aisle to work with Democrats on agenda items that they think will enhance their popularity by getting things done.
Whatever McConnell’s position, Majority or Minority Leader, he is going to have his hands full. On the one hand, he is going to have Trump friendly Senators like Rubio, Hawley, and Cruz doing whatever they feel is best to court votes for the 2024 primaries, and on the other hand, he has centrist Senators like Murkowski, Collins, and Sasse, who came to Washington to actually do the job, and chafed under the insanity of the Trump regime. McConnell may pride himself on being the Grim Reaper of the Senate, but there is no way for him to collect all of these souls.
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