As the 2018 midterm elections loom, Republican lawmakers are proving to be hesitant about allying themselves with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fearing a connection to him may hurt their chances with conservative voters.
According to Politico, MCConnell's inability to pass much in the way of legislation or advance President Donald Trump's agenda has made few candidates willing to voice support for the Kentucky lawmaker, with one candidate running for a Senate seat calling McConnell "toxic."
Adding to McConnell's woes as a GOP leader is the outside influence of Breitbart's Steve Bannon, who some Republicans are embracing because he can deliver hardcore conservatives who will show up for the midterms which normally see low turnout.
The problem for McConnell is that he is seen as part of "the swamp," despite the fact that Trump has embraced him as of a late, and his lack of accomplishments during the current session.
“If he can get health care, immigration, tax reform done, terrific,” explained Michigan businessman Sandy Pensler as he launched his Senate campaign. “Otherwise ... he shouldn’t be the leader. It’s a results-driven analysis for me. So far he hasn’t gotten it done.”
According to an aide to Bannon, McConnell not only brings nothing to the table in the way of votes, but is detrimental to a campaign.
“Why are Republicans candidates tweeting out selfies with Steve Bannon, while at the same time doing everything they can to publicly distance themselves from McConnell?” asked Bannon surrogate Andy Surabian. “Because they know that McConnell is an albatross, not only in GOP primaries, but more importantly in general elections.”
Corey Stewart, who recently lost a bid to be the GOP candidate for governor in Virginia, and is now running to replace Sen. Tim Kaine (D), claims voters are dismissive of McConnell as a leader.
“There’s no support for him, even among the establishment. He hasn’t been able to pass the president’s agenda,” Stewart said.
While not all candidates are disparaging McConnell, believing they may have to work with him some day, many are choosing to avoid talking about him and are hedging their support.
Missouri state Attorney General Josh Hawley, currently running for a Senate seat, recently took a veiled shot at McConnell without mentioning him by name, telling a local paper he "is not willing to tolerate the failure of the D.C. establishment any longer."
You can read the whole report here.