Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a boost to three swing-state Republican candidates this week, saying they all have “a good chance of winning.”
Over the weekend, McConnell held a fundraising event with Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker, North Carolina candidate Ted Budd, and Pennsylvania candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz. Speaking to reporters in Kentucky Monday, McConnell doubled down on his support for the three candidates, all of whom are also endorsed by former President Trump.
“I do this every August,” McConnell told reporters on Monday, via the Washington Times. “I had a different set of candidates than last August. This event was scheduled about six weeks ago.”
“I pick out three of our candidates every summer that I think have the best shot at winning and invite them,” the Minority Leader added. “And I picked these three because I thought they were in critical states and had a good chance of winning.”
McConnell also said he has “great confidence” in Oz, after the Pennsylvania Senate nominee was singled out by reporters. “I have great confidence. I think Oz has a great shot at winning,” McConnell said, via The Hill. “I don’t think I would have had him here if I didn’t think that.”
Of the three candidates, Budd currently has the best shot of winning, according to polls. The RealClearPolitics average of polls shows that Budd holds a 2.8-point lead over former North Carolina state supreme court chief justice Cheri Beasley. Budd, currently the Congressman from North Carolina’s 13th district, is running to replace retiring Senator Richard Burr.
Walker is currently running slightly behind incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock in the Georgia Senate race. The RCP average shows that Warnock holds a 3.3-point lead over Walker. However, a poll from Emerson College released Tuesday showed Walker with a two-point lead over Warnock. Walker, a football legend at the University of Georgia, former NFL star, and businessman, is running to oust Warnock, who won a special election in 2020 to replace retired Senator Johnny Isakson.
In Pennsylvania, Oz has been struggling to gain traction against Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman. The RCP poll of polls currently has Fetterman leading Oz by 7.8 points. Oz, a heart surgeon and television host, is running to replace retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey, in a race that has gained national attention as one of the most heated, and most online, contests of the 2022 cycle.
McConnell’s comments are something of an about-face, after he expressed doubts about the possibility of Republicans retaking the Senate in the 2022 midterms. “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said at a luncheon with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Florence, Kentucky earlier this month. “Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” he added, without pointing out any candidate in particular.
“Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country, but I think when all is said and done this fall, we’re likely to have an extremely close Senate, either our side up slightly or their side up slightly,” McConnell projected.