McConnell Threatens to Oppose Some Trump-Backed Senate Candidates

February 14, 2021 Updated: February 15, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he will oppose Senate candidates backed by former President Donald Trump if he believes they are not credible.

“My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November,” McConnell told Politico. “Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability.

“I do think electability—not who supports who—is the critical point.”

It comes as several GOP senators have said they’ll retire instead of running for reelection in 2022.

On Feb. 13, McConnell lambasted Trump but didn’t vote to convict him during the Senate impeachment trial. Reportedly, McConnell also didn’t tell his caucus to vote either way. Seven Republican senators joined Democrats in convicting the former president.

In the interview, McConnell said he was focused on the 2022 elections and that the future of the GOP “will be determined in places like Wyoming.” He was likely referring to the reelection bid of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who faced intense criticism in her state for voting to impeach Trump last month.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) seemed to suggest that Republicans who voted against Trump during the impeachment effort are hurting the Republican Party.

“I think Sen. McConnell’s speech, he got a load off his chest, obviously, but unfortunately he put a load on the back of Republicans,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns.”

McConnell appeared to suggest in his Feb. 13 floor speech that Trump should face criminal prosecution. In his Politico interview, he demurred, “I’ve said all I need to say about that.”

So far, Trump hasn’t endorsed any Senate candidates for 2022. The former commander-in-chief, meanwhile, has not said what he plans to do.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, told Politico: “We’ll focus on what the Biden agenda looks like. … That will create some cohesion among the loyal opposition.”