McConnell: GOP 'hoping' to hold Senate; acknowledges strong headwinds in November midterms

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday that the political winds will be "in our face" during the 2018 midterm elections.

"This is going to be a challenging election year", Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told Kentucky Today.

"I believe that's the most important thing we're doing", McConnell said. "We don't know whether it's going to be a Category 3, 4 or 5".

Separately in the interview, McConnell said that blocking former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, from receiving a confirmation hearing following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia was "was the most consequential decision I've made in my entire public career". "The things that will last the longest time, those are my top priorities".

"It's noteworthy that when we did comprehensive tax reform 30 years ago, we left it alone for four years before the political winds shifted and we started playing with it again", he said.

McConnell cited the subsequent wave of Trump-nominated judges as a lasting legacy. The Kentucky senator pointed to Republicans' judiciary appointments.

The pace of confirmations has been quick, courtesy of a rule change pushed through by Democrats in 2013 when they controlled the Senate.

"I said 'we've got a chance to transform the country in a very significant way for the next generation if we can get our act together, '" McConnell said. While the margin appears relatively slim, a New York Times analysis shows that Democrats need to win 28 elections to control the Senate, while Republicans only need to win 9 races to maintain power.

Of the eight Republican seats up for re-election this year, Nevada and Arizona are the two labeled "competitive", while Democrats have 26 seats to defend.

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