APP Press - Elections

Frank Cannon: Why Conservatives Should Be Grateful for Mitch McConnell

October 15, 2018

From APP president Frank Cannon’s op-ed in The Hill:

It’s now official: with the successful confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has become the most consequential political figure of this decade. He has reached total cult hero status among conservatives. Moreover, his conference has never respected him more, and his president has never trusted him more. McConnell is the man, and everyone knows it.

One might not guess that by the media coverage. After all, it is President Trump who most often dominates the headlines, thanks to the bully pulpit which the White House (and his significant Twitter following) afford him. However, upon considering what Republicans have managed to accomplish in the three-plus years that McConnell has been majority leader, it is difficult to imagine how any of it would have happened without him.

Let’s first go back to early 2016, just after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. When President Obama moved to nominate Judge Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat, McConnell immediately grasped the importance of the moment, announcing that the Senate would not consider any nominee until after the November elections. Although it may not seem so in retrospect, at the time, this was a significant gamble. Pundits on both the left and right believed holding open Scalia’s seat would likely benefit the Democrats politically, with some conservatives even calling on McConnell to confirm Garland lest a more progressive-leaning alternative be nominated down the road.

Instead, McConnell’s maneuver became one of the biggest political assets for Republicans in the 2016 elections. Exit polls showed that among the many voters for whom the Supreme Court was the most important issue, Trump outperformed Clinton by double digit margins. Although Trump certainly did his part to capitalize on the issue by releasing his list of candidates from which he would choose a nominee if elected, it was McConnell’s unwavering Senate leadership which made the strategy possible. And as we now know, his gamble paid off  big time.


Read the full op-ed here.


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