Mitch McConnell bites his lip and looks down as he walks with aides behind him.

Mitch McConnell Says Republicans Might Not Take the Senate in November Because All Their Candidates Suck

He's not wrong!

Looking ahead to November elections, probably the biggest concern facing Democrats is whether they’ll be able to keep their extremely narrow hold on the Senate majority. Right now, the Senate is a 50/50 split between Republicans and Democrats (plus Independents, who caucus with the Dems). The only reason the Democrats are even considered to have a majority is because it’s up to Vice President Kamala Harris to break any ties. That means we cannot lose even one seat in the fall. Republicans have already made spiteful obstructionism their #1 priority—if they gain a majority, that’s the end of basically any hopes of passing meaningful legislation for the foreseeable future.

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Thanks to a number of factors ranging from inflation to President Joe Biden’s low polling numbers, Democrats’ chances of holding onto that slim majority have not looked great. But in recent months, a new obstacle has crept up for Republicans that even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has had to acknowledge: All their candidates suck.

At a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon (read: a big money event) this week, McConnell was asked for his November predictions. He responded: “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different—they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”

“Candidate quality” is such a pointed phrase. It would not be unusual for McConnell to make some sort of vague excuse for poor Republican voter outcomes that shifts blame onto Democrats. Here, he’s straight-up acknowledging, in the most polite way possible, that the candidates they have on ballots are not good ones.

Which low-quality Republicans are running in November?

Obviously, the lowest-quality candidate Republicans have up for a Senate seat is Dr. (Mehmet) Oz, who is running a disastrous campaign in Pennsylvania, despite famously living in New Jersey. Oz, a longtime TV wellness grifter, has spent months giving nonsensical Fox News interviews, going viral for embarrassing attempts at everymanism, and just generally being trounced and trolled by his opponent John Fetterman.

Dr. Oz might be Republicans’ highest-profile low-quality candidate but he’s hardly the only one bringing down the party’s chances of flipping the Senate.

In Georgia, former NFL star Herschel Walker is trying to oust Democratic relative newcomer Raphael Warnock, but his campaign has been plagued with negative coverage thanks to everything from his past partnership with a scammy energy company to the fact that a man running on “family values” keeps having a new secret, shunned child pop up every few months.

McConnell is also likely talking about J.D. Vance—aka the Hillbilly Elegy guy—in Ohio, who is constantly sharing terrible and out-of-touch takes online.

There are a few other Senate candidates across the country that have Donald Trump’s backing, which was clearly enough for them to dominate GOP primaries, but ultimately, hopefully, might prove to be too low quality to actually win in November.

Mitch McConnell is a horrible, self-serving, power-hungry grifter, but he’s also a realistic, numbers-driven politician. If even he thinks these candidates aren’t winners, that’s a really good sign.

(image: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.