Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not worried about President Donald Trump backing primary challengers to the Kentucky Republican’s preferred candidates.
McConnell’s political operation has not been shy about engaging in primary politics in an effort to get the best candidate on the ballot for the general election.
“We intend to renominate all of our incumbents and we intend to play in primaries if there’s a clear choice between someone who can win in November and someone who can’t,” the majority leader said. “The idea, I always remind people, is to win the election.”
McConnell cited the 2010 and 2012 cycles, when a number of unelectable candidates emerged through the Republican primary process.
“I think it’s safe to say we will be looking for — in these nonincumbent races — the most electable candidate possible, and I think the administration will defer to our judgement on Senate races,” McConnell said at a news conference ahead of the Easter recess.
Trump administration officials have openly discussed primary challenges to members of Congress who do not back the president’s agenda, though those threats have focused so far on House Republicans who helped derail the effort to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and other campaign arms on both sides of the aisle have to, as one of their core functions, support incumbent members who help finance the committees’ operations.