Jennifer Rubin awards the Distinguished Pol of the Week trophy to… Mitch McConnell.
No one has been more vilified by the D.C.-based far-right machine than Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). If you didn’t know better, you’d think outfits like Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, Madison Project, Senate Conservatives Fund and these groups’ top cheerleader in the blogosphere, Red State, were working for the “Keep Harry Reid Majority Leader” fund. McConnell has been attacked for opposition to the shutdown, for agreement on a budget deal and for supporting items like the farm bill. Yet he now is running away with his primary race against the hapless Matt Bevin. His off-beat video went viral, making his geekiness seem cool.
And is she wrong to think that there’s a bit of a new strut in Mitch’s stride? I suppose that depends which race you’re talking about. Barring some sort of parting of the Heavens, the Bevin insurgency seems to have gone down to a case of crib death, so he looks to be in the clear there. But Rubin’s assertion that he’s a happy warrior and potential majority leader relies on two other things. First, it will require six more seats in the upper chamber. (Certainly possible and quickly approaching the point of calling it likely.) But the second assumption is that McConnell still holds the seat he currently occupies.
Rubin refers to his Democrat opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, as being all sizzle and no substance, and the linked article certainly makes solid points in defense of that argument. But is a weak opponent a sure fire ticket to the winner’s circle? Real Clear Politics “poll of polls” still shows the race to be a dead heat, with Grimes actually holding a one half point lead within the margins.
Personally, I find it difficult to believe that Kentucky has swung far enough that the Grimes lead will hold till November and actually take the seat away. But mid-term years are always full of surprises. I can see why Rubin would feel that the party faithful would celebrate a clear field for McConnell and encourage maintaining the status quo in a previously safe seat because no matter how you may feel about Mitch, he’s got to be a safer vote over the long haul than Grimes. But the outlook may still be a bit optimistic. Be careful that the smile in question doesn’t start turning into a grimace around August.